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Innocent is South Africa’s top sand sculptor at UAI2014-inspired event

Second place went to Sasha Ngidi who showed he was on the ball with current events when he added a woman's day message to his sandcastle.
Second place went to Sasha Ngidi who showed he was on the ball with current events when he added a woman's day message to his sandcastle.
Wanda Hennig

Sand sculpting is big business in the United States and top US sand artist is Mark Mason, 50.

Winner Innocent Zungu, forground, works on his sandcastle at Durban, South Africa's New Beach.
Wanda Hennig

Sand sculpting in Durban, South Africa, is more of a survival game. Ten permits are issued annually for which the artists pay. It is their livelihood. If you take a picture, the artists encourage you to give a donation. On a good day they earn the equivalent of $20.

Some sleep near their art, on the beach, to save it from being trashed during the night.

The artists are creative. The talent is innate.

But the city has gone some way toward promoting the artists and sand art. Last year they brought Florida-based Mark Mason to Durban to give lessons to the artists. To mentor them and to tell them about possibilities.

The passion of the artists was clear at the fourth annual Project Sandman Sandcastle Contest held at Durban’s New Beach on Saturday August 9, 2014. This year’s contest was inspired by the 25th International Union of Architects World Congress, which ended in the Indian Ocean city on Thursday.

“Build your dream sandcastle was their brief,” said Gabriella Peppas, co-ordinator of the contest.

“We asked them to take the idea of the traditional sandcastle and make it their own.

“All three winners showed great creativity along with amazing techniques with intricate details. At the end of the day all nine artists were winners as they all created amazing castles and were able to showcase their talent to the public,”

First place when to Innocent Zungu (number 8), the newest sand artist to be granted a concession; second place went to Sasha Ngidi (number 5), third place when to Thembainkosi Kole (number 1).

Prize for first place R5,000 ($500), second place R3,000 ($300), third place R1,500 ($150).

Sand sculpting is big business in the United States. Mark Mason is founder of Team Sandtastic. Their website shows some of the events they’ve been commissioned for, including corporate team building, theme parks, weddings and — you name it.

See more on the three-day workshop skills development workshop conducted in Durban by Mark Mason — current World Record holder and former World Champion art sculptor/ sandcastle builder.