Castles in the sand

love-opera-victoria-baker“Even castles made of sand, fall into the sea eventually” said Jimi Hendrix.

There is something very poetic about the art of creating a sculpture using a transient material such as sand. The practice of building sand castles teaches us a valuable lesson…that nothing, not even the most beautiful creations, lasts.

All forms transform and return to their original sources in the end.

This July 20 at 1 p.m. with a rain date of July 21, the Greenwich Arts Council and the town’s Department of Parks and Recreation will host it’s annual “Sand Blast.” People in town know this beloved event but if you aren’t aware of this, know that it’s a family sand sculpture event at Tod’s Point.

Participants are encouraged to indulge their imaginations whilst creating art in the sand. For more information log onto

The most extraordinary form of sand sculpture is the Tibetan mandala. Made of vibrant coloured sand, these intricate works of art take weeks and sometimes even months to create. At the end of this creative process the mandala is destroyed and the sand swept aside to remind us that nothing lasts and life is transient.

Before a Tibetan monk is permitted to work on constructing a mandala he must undergo a long period of technical artistic training and memorization, learning how to draw all the various symbols and studying related philosophical concepts. In the early stages of painting, the monks sit on the outer part of the unpainted mandala base, always facing the center. For larger sized mandalas, when the mandala is about halfway completed, the monks then stand on the floor, bending forward to apply the colors.

Traditionally, the mandala is divided into four quadrants and one monk is assigned to each. At the point where the monks stand to apply the colors, an assistant joins each of the four. Working cooperatively, the assistants help by filling in areas of color while the primary four monks outline the other details.

The monks memorize each detail of the mandala as part of their monastery’s training program. At the end of each work session, the monks dedicate any artistic or spiritual merit accumulated from this activity to the benefit of others. This practice prevails in the execution of all ritual arts.

Of course you don’t need to be an enlightened thinker to understand the basic pleasures of creating sculptures in the sand. If you get a chance to attend the Greenwich Sand Blast festival this summer, indulge your inner child and enjoy every chance you get not to take life too seriously.

The art of creating sand castles teaches us that life is but a parenthesis in eternity, maybe that’s why children love making them so much…who knows, maybe they know more about life than we do and their simplest pleasures are our greatest lessons.


Victoria Baker, of Greenwich, is an opera singer. Winner of many prestigious competitions, she has performed and worked with distinguished artists all over the world (notably at Lincoln Center). Should you have any questions that deserve answers and may be in print please call 203-531-7499 or e-mail [email protected]

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