Man to build Nova Scotia's highest sand sculpture in Chester

6 April, 2021

A five-time world champion sand sculptor has many places to choose from when selecting where to build his next creation. But Paul Dawkins’ pick? The parking lot at the Chester Art Centre in Lunenburg County.

“I’ve travelled about 100 countries and just about everywhere throughout the states and North America, but it’s funny — I’ve never really gone to the Maritimes,” Dawkins told The Chronicle Herald Friday morning on a break from Day 2 of creating his latest sand sculpture.

After 44 years of sand sculpting, Dawkins moved to Nova Scotia to settle down.

“It was kind of like Alice in Wonderland. You didn’t know where you were waking up or what subject matter you were doing,” he said of his years of travel “It was fun, but now I can settle here rather than travelling like a cosmic sand gypsy.”

While it only looks like a pile of sand, with wooden boxes stacked on top, sitting in a parking lot, the finished product will draw inspiration from the South Shore.

“We came up with this idea of a giant lobster attacking a fishing village and then it just got carried away and now it’s three lobsters and a whole village,” Dawkins said with a chuckle. “There will be a lighthouse at the top of it and a lobster reaching up to the top, like King Kong.”

The sculpture will be about 2.5-metre tall, which Dawkins said will be a record for the highest sand sculpture in Nova Scotia. And he’s not building it alone.

Starting Saturday, Dawkins will be hosting two three-hour workshops for six consecutive Saturdays. Up to 10 people are allowed to participate in each session, as per COVID-19 guidelines.

The workshop, which costs $110 for six Saturdays or $20 for a single session, doesn’t require experience with sand sculptures.

“Someone who’s not even that experienced can be put on very simple things like measuring and cutting to carving little tiny figures,” Dawkins said.

The final project, sprayed with white glue to resist wind and rain, is to be unveiled on Thanksgiving weekend. From there, Dawkins will see how his sand sculpture handles Maritime weather.

“I’ve had them last up to two years outside, like in Philadelphia, but with the challenges of the storms here, I guess we’re going to find out,” he said. If the sculpture doesn't withstand the weather, Dawkins won't have to go far to create another sand sculpture.

"It's an artist's haven from Lunenburg to Halifax," he said. "I didn't realize you had the best beaches in Canada, so this is really exciting for me."

Originally published on Saltwire.