When packing for a trip to the beach, it is still customary, regardless of age, to bring along your bucket and spade. Sand, after all, is a fascinating material. Why else should we still be so captivated by the idea of laying in it for hours while soaking up the sun’s rays? It is a natural exfoliant—is there any greater feeling than the sensation of micro-granules trickling through your fingers?—and, to one Spanish artist, the perfect substance for creating stunning works of art.
Andoni Bastarrika is a self-taught sculptor who works with one of nature’s most malleable and abundant resources. But that doesn’t mean that the projects are slapped together in a pinch. In fact, despite its seemingly simplistic reputation, sand sculpting can prove to be an extremely challenging art form. Unless, of course, you’re Andoni.
Operating across the local Basque beaches in northern Spain, Bastarrika molds the wet materials by hand before executing his hyper-realistic designs, remarkable examples of which have included both mammalian (dogs, elephants, cows, horses) and marine (sharks, alligators) wildlife—and sometimes, a hybrid of the two. And all of his subjects are meant to look as though they, quite literally, have washed up on land.
His typical process involves scouring the shores in search of a generously sized raised concrete plinth upon which he then dumps bucketfuls of sand. Though he’ll occasionally use sticks to shape his works, adding lines and folds to the figures, his technique is carried out almost entirely with just his hands. Found objects, like the genuine horns he added to the model of a bull, are sourced from nearby debris. And the results speak for themselves.