It should be frustraiting to know that you are a great artist, and everybody loves your work, but you’ll never have a gallery to show off your best pieces. With a simple stick and a rake, and with not-so-simple gift of vision, he paints elaborated works of art in the sand. And there are indescribably well done! Peter Donnelly is the ultimate street theatre artist. Fading light, before the tide returns to wash his mirage from the shoreline … you should be lucky to be there or very quick to catch the Sand Dancer, creating his masterpieces on the beaches.
People come from all over the world to see Sand Artist create vast artworks on New Brighton beach in New Zealand. Racing against the tide, Peter has only 3 hours to complete each work before the first waves wash it away. Because of the sheer size of the art, Peter can’t see the results of his work at ground level. He does not use any plotting tools or visual aids. This man spent his whole life creating art on the beach, which is washed away each day.
Donnelly has been creating his artworks (intricate, ornate, sometimes esoteric) for 10 years, over 780 hundred in his career. „Peter’s intricate designs look like they take days to complete, but in fact, he does them in less than four hours, and they last only as long as the next high tide – all the more impressive because at ground level, Peter can’t really ‘see,’ only feel, what’s he’s doing” says Phil Keoghan, the host of the well-known reality show “The Amazing Race”.
„It’s almost like a dance, it’s like you’re really connecting with where you are, like you’re really engrossed in the moment,” Phil said to Peter. „You’ve got to go through that . . . as an artist,” explained Donnelly. „There’s a healing aspect, like a love expression that occurs . . . I get emotional about it sometimes.”
As the day goes by and his work becomes more elaborate, the crowd of close to 200 people stands silently around, watching him create. After four hours, watching him closely, the piece is completed – and the tide begins to roll in.
„Well Peter, the tide is literally rolling up on your artwork now,” Phil said. Peter was far from disappointed. „This is the beautiful moment. It’s symmetry, a symmetry … it’s finished now, it’s born, it’s had its life”.
„More than anything, Peter sees his art as a way to release his creative side and thankfully for all of us, he does it in a place we can all enjoy it.”