Sandsational!

The island of Sentosa has just finished hosting “Sentosa Sandsation,” billed as Southeast Asia’s biggest sand festival. I have no idea what the competition might be for this title — I can’t pretend to be up on my sand festivals — but a quick Google search suggests that this may be Southeast Asia’s only sand festival. In any case, it’s pretty amazing.

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The whole festival takes place under one giant tent on Siloso Beach, erected to protect the sculptures from Singapore’s many rainstorms:

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The theme of this year’s Sandsation is Marvel comics, so you see a lot of familiar faces. Here we have Iron Man…

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… the Guardians of the Galaxy …IMG_4552

…. the Black Panther …

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… and Ant-Man (astride Ant-thony, his trusty steed):

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There were some lesser-known figures, too, like Captain Marvel (though she’ll be a household name when her movie comes out next year) …

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… and Medusa (she has prehensile hair — who knew? And where is her movie?):

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There’s only one bad guy, Thanos (who really should be called Biceps Man):

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I was amazed at the scale of these things. They towered over us, most of them about one story tall.

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The sculptures are all built on giant wooden forms, which, if you could see them, would pretty much look like big sand boxes stacked on top of each other. This leads to a lot of pyramid shapes for stability. (Especially necessarily here in Singapore, we learned that the sand, which is relatively coarse, is not very strong for building).

Asgard, the centerpiece of the show, rises up to a full 5.5 meters (that’s just shy of two stories):

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But while the scale was impressive, what I most loved were the details of these sand sculptures. When you look up close, you can really see how they’ve worked the sand. I spent a long time studying the different ways in which they render everything from buildings …
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… to Drax’s tattoos …

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… to the woody stylings of Groot …

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We also made sure to have fun in the exhibit:

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The creative lead of the sculpting team was from Singapore, but other sculptors came from all over the world (including Australia, Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, and the US) for this festival.

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The second half of Sandsation was the “golden shovel competition,” in which each of the sculptors was given free reign to build any sand sculpture of his or her choice. This resulted in quite a mix of concepts and styles. We had a pile of nuts and bolts …IMG_4564

… several heads …

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… a cliff diver …

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… a bullfighter …

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… and this guy:

IMG_4584IMG_4590If I had known about Sandsation earlier, I probably would have enjoyed the learn-to-build-in-sand workshop (though I might have been the only person over the age of twelve to sign up).

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My very favorite part of the whole festival was the castle that came at the very end:

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But it’s not just because this is the most amazing sand castle I’ve ever seen …

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… but because you could actual watch one of the sculptors building it!

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This is JOOheng Tan, a sand artist from Singapore, who was the lead sculptor for the whole show. While I stood and watched for about half an hour, he worked on one gazebo-thing the entire time, starting with the turret and then working down to the decorative border …

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… and then down to the long arched windows:

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Sand sculpting at this level involves lots of patience and painstaking detail. I think Tan spent at least ten minutes on this row of windows alone. But the final result was beautiful — where there had been only a mound of sand to start (you can see it toward the bottom right) …

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… there was now a complete sand building:

IMG_4648Prescott and I concluded the evening with a reasonable dinner at Coastes (great beach setting; pretty good Greek salad; mediocre fish and chips) and then a viewing of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on Palawan lawn. This was a truly Sentosa experience, because the “lawn” was made of something in the AstroTurf family. It seemed a fitting ending to a comic-themed afternoon.

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