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Czech artist at work on Poseidon beach in Torremolinos.
Czech artist at work on Poseidon beach in Torremolinos. / EFE

Sand sculptures, street art created on a beach

  • The detailed work involved in making large figures out of 15 or 20 tonnes of sand is arousing a great deal of admiration among passers-by and people who come to spend a day on the beach

Donald Trump is having dinner with Mariano Rajoy and Angela Merkel - not in real life, but in the sand sculptures which are on view to all those who stroll along some of the beaches of the Costa del Sol. This is a form of street art, through which Spanish and foreign artists aim to surprise and interest passers-by.

“Slowly but surely,” is the phrase that comes to mind when watching the laborious effort and the precise detail involved in creating figures out of 15 or 20 tonnes of sand, to entertain the people who, for whatever reason, decide to take a walk beside the sea.

One of these little-known sand artists is called José Emilio Martín; he is from Malaga and has been sculpting sand for 11 years now. His latest work is a scene created with busts of Donald Trump, Mariano Rajoy and ten other internationally famous names in world politics, including François Hollande.

Political figures

This work, entitled “The Last Supper” can be seen on the beach in Torremolinos, and the idea is for it to remain in place until the winter. This means that José Emilio has to look after it for 12 hours a day on the sandy beach beside the Mediterranean, sharing the task of guarding it with his Bulgarian assistant.

He says that all his hard work reaped its reward when he took part in the sand sculpture festivals in Mallorca, coming third and then second. His prize money has enabled him to continue his work, because on a day-to-day basis he lives from the tips left by tourists who admire his artistry.

It takes thousands of litres of water to make these large sand sculptures, as well as a process to refine the sand so it acquires the required texture, but of course the skill of these street artists who use their hands, spades and brushes to mould their creations, is also essential.

Just along the beach from José Emilio is 31-year-old Alberto. After working in retail and then becoming unemployed five years ago, he decided to try his luck as a sand sculptor.

The artist Afis works on a snowy scene depicting his Czech home town.

The artist Afis works on a snowy scene depicting his Czech home town. / Jorge Zapata / EFE

His current work is a pirate throne with fire-breathing dragons and mermaids to brighten up the scene. The idea is for people to sit on the throne and have photos taken of themselves, after leaving him a tip.

Another of the sand sculptors is Afis, a Czech who has been living for two years in Malaga, where he has now formed a family. His training as a carpenter, and his memories of the region of the Czech Republic in which he grew up, were the inspiration for his latest work.

Building his village

Afis has spent 293 hours working on this dedication to his village, where his parents still live, to keep it in his mind during his new life in Spain, which will enable him to provide better opportunities for his young son.

At 49 years of age and after losing his job in the construction industry, Jesús is another sand sculptor who is aware of how difficult it will be to find work again. He creates his sculptures in order to make a living, but he admits that he also enjoys doing it because he can mix his enthusiasm for football with his interest in jungle life and the Romans.

Jesús’ work contains a large Real Madrid badge beside some tiny Roman huts, and a jungle in which a toy monkey dangles.

He says he changes his works every day, depending on what inspires him, because he doesn’t want people to get bored by seeing the same thing for months on end.