Description It had recently rained here and water was seeping out of the dunes above the beach leaving the sand glistening wet. As I carved, water seeped into the letters and they sparkled in the afternoon sun. The wind was blowing hard, bending the grass over to bow at the sun, like Joseph in his technicolour dreamcoat. That rainbow colour effect was thanks to some salty sea air which the wind had placed on the lens. My sharp, Nikon eye of glass would not have seen it if I had cleaned it first.
Andrew Van Der Merwe, Cape Town Member Since June 2009 Artist Statement You're looking the world's first beach calligrapher! :-) This is a unique art form using instruments and techniques developed by myself since 2000. You will not find anything like this anywhere else in the world. I also call it sand calligraphy. The letters and designs are carved directly into the sand and photographed before the ocean claims it.
I am a professional calligrapher and letter artist who does most of his work for other designers and agencies (see http://www.writtenword.co.za).
I got hooked on the art of writing at the tender age of 6 when I was given gold stars for my work by a very beautiful teacher.
I began freelancing on the side while reading for a social science degree at the University of Cape Town. I have been a keen surfer since high school and over the years, time spent on the beach always led to scratching in the sand with sticks, which I began shaping for various effects. That is how the beach calligraphy began.
I made my first major breakthrough with a new instrument in 2000 and began developing it with greater interest. In 2008 I spent the month of July performing on the beach at Zeebrugge, Belgium, on the invitation of the City of Bruges. In 2010, on the invitation of the Sharjah Department of Art and Culture, I participated in the Sharjah Calligraphy Biennial.
Sun, water, sand and wind are strong themes in my work. I particularly enjoy playing with African and other ancient writing systems in an asemic way. I also really enjoy carving names (see "People's Names" on my Behance portfolio).
I am an active member of the Cape Friends of Calligraphy (http://www.capecalligraphy.org.za), of the online group Cyberscribes (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cyberscribes/) and South Africa's premier photography group, outdoorphoto.co.za, where I have a small gallery: http://www.outdoorphoto.co.za/forum/photopost./showgallery.php?cat=500&ppuser=7734)
My Behance portfolio: http://www.behance.net/beachscriber/frame
Are your images Photoshopped?
No. The carving is done by hand, in the sand, using instruments and techniques I have developed. Of course, I do do things like cropping, adjusting of contrast, saturation, etc to bring out the best in the photograph. The most radical Photoshopping I do would be stuff like cloning out sensor dust or a piece of rubbish in the background, and an HDR merger of a bracketed image for a better saturated sky. The carving, however, is entirely natural.
Why are there no footprints?
I levitate. ;-) To be serious, its really quite basic and it would spoil it for you if I told you. Or should I say it would ruin our relationship!? :-) I use various down-to-earth techniques. One that I am prepared to divulge is that I allow the wind or water to work on the piece. If you look carefully at some of my pieces, you will see signs of slight disturbance in the sand showing where I stood. You will very seldom see a footprint. The difficult part is not avoiding footprints but getting the calligraphy right!