The Entrancement of Sand and Chalk

Hundreds of drawings were created and then obliterated without a trace

‘My parents were both brilliant teachers who recognised the value of art, and encouraged my love of drawing. When I was 5 we lived in a charming old island house on Norfolk Island where my father had been appointed principal of the Central School. The principal’s residence was a fringed with verandahs on which I spent many hours in front of a large blackboard covered in chalk. If I was particularly proud of one of my drawings I would leave it there for an hour or so to show my family. However, if I wanted to keep drawing I would have to wipe the board clean. I was therefore relatively free from the fear of making mistakes. After all, it was only chalk which I could easily erase. Hundreds of drawings were created and then obliterated without a trace (these were days before cameras became ubiquitous). So, my formative years were spent engaged in a process of ephemeral art. I believe that this was crucial to my artistic development, fostering my confidence and spontaneity. 

Decades later I discovered sand. Like chalk, it didn’t last. Each image needed to be obliterated to make way for the next. Members of my audience sometimes gasp in shock when I wipe a picture away with a sweep of my hand. I draw their attention to the comparison between my performance and music. When a song comes to an end where is it? It exists only as a memory. The singer is entranced in a musical experience, and the sand artist is entranced in a visual experience. Both are examples of Ephemeral art accentuating the present. 

Like a boy on a faraway verandah, immersed in moments of delight and discovery, his hands covered in chalk.’ 

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