Whenever I think of beach sand, the noise of the sea rushes into my ears. I have never lived near the sea. On one holiday, I found the constant breaking of the waves so comforting to the soul, I earnestly wished I could preserve that auditory memory forever. The memory does not last; it is merely revived when one visits the sea again.
I drove once with a friend for almost two hours just to stand on a pier in overcast windy weather to be at one with the elements and reinforce something we both knew so well: how insignificant we as humans are in the enormous scheme of things.
This weekend we visited what is considered to be the “world’s largest sand sculpture event” at Pêra, in the Algarve, Portugal, with this year’s five-month exhibition entitled Fiesa 2012. What I was not prepared for was the silence.
Forty thousand tonnes of sand, and no sea noise. In fact, no noticeable noise at all. Even the sound of people talking and the whirr of camera shutters seemed muffled.
Although the exhibition space is constructed in a loose amphitheatre-like formation, the absence of sharp sounds seemed to lend itself to intense scrutiny of the works on display.
No whispers required, as in the echoing exhibition halls in major cities. Just heat, sand, sheer enormity of scale, and one creation after another to exhaust the senses. I know I should not soak it all in so, but I do.
There we were in this seemingly vast space, baking in the dryness and sandiness of it all. I revelled in the lack of noise: the break from my noisy neighbour’s voice; the absence of the sounds of the television, the washing machine, and traffic, and barking dogs and cat fights; the absence even of my own fingers clicking away at the keyboard. I wondered why I had to come all the way to a place like this to encounter my own silence again. I upbraided myself for having wandered so far off the soul-track.
When we could no longer take in any more (and with me still slightly offended at a very inaccurate portrait of Martin Luther King Junior, despite my uplifting experience of silence), we returned to the starting point.
After that work-out, the ice-cold refreshments while sitting in the shady space provided seemed particularly well-deserved. Pulling and pushing a wheelchair through all that sand up hill and down dale is no mean feat. I am surprised I had a steady hand to take photographs!
It was then that my attention turned to something which does not qualify as artistic by any stretch of the imagination: all the sand on my sandals. Definitely worth a photo!
(whose sandals got thoroughly washed the next day)