Sand sculptors attempt to build on positive aspects of Ireland
Works themed ‘the bright side’ go on display in Dublin Castle
Alan Magee pictured working on his sand sculpture in Dublin Castle. The sculpture is part of a series called The Bright Side which runs until August 28th. Photograph: Aidan Crawley.
They have been working together as a trio for over 10 years. Duthain Dealbh means “fleeting sculpture” in Irish, which is fitting for artists who work with sand. As part of a sand sculpture exhibition, Daniel Doyle, and brothers Niall and Alan Magee are carving three sculptures in Dublin Castle’s upper courtyard united by a single theme: “the bright side.”
“This year, because of the economic situation in Ireland and worldwide, things tend to be a little bit gloomy,” said Niall. “So we thought we would look at positive things about Ireland and being Irish.”
The ongoing project, which began on Monday and will be completed by next Monday, is open to the public. The vertical sculptures inspire awe.
Doyle admits people see the material first and wonder just how such structures can be created with sand. Alan contributes the sustainability of the material to the shape of the grain, sharp, and the clay content, unwashed silt clay.
“It’s the same sand used for building sites and construction,” he said. “It holds in moisture but it’s solid once it dries in the sun.”
Although a work in process subject to change, the guys keep the theme close in mind while sculpting. Niall’s heart sculpture is inspired by Irish generosity while Alan’s “Irish mammy” represents a pillar of Irish society - the one who holds the family together. While Daniel didn’t disclose the identity of his carving, he spoke about the ideas behind it.
“We are a product of everything negative that has happened and we haven’t turned out too bad,” he said. “They are all character building traits and that’s the way we should look at it.”
The trio met at Dublin Institute of Technology where they studied fine art with a focus on sculpting. In 2001, they decided to collaborate and form a partnership. In the summer they focus their efforts on sand, and in the winter they make use of ice and snow.
But sand holds a special place with Daniel. “It’s quite unique as an art form,” he said. “You can make a very large sculpture in a very short period of time. When people think of sand, they think of castles and mermaids they saw on a beach while on vacation. There are so many other possibilities.”
The trio are on track to finish up Sunday evening and the public is welcome to view the complete sculptures Monday morning. The exhibition will be open until August 28th.
“We hope that our work can speak for itself,” said Doyle. “We want people to see what’s beneath it, to see the thought behind it.”