Every so often my partner Shani and I have what we call a ‘creative staycation’. We love where we live (and let’s face it if you don’t why would you choose to spend your life there?) so when we need a break we stay at home.

The idea is we get up pretty early and go to the beach for a swim, then work on a creative project until about 2pm when we go for a late lunch at any of the local cafes we’ve noticed but haven’t yet tried. It’s great as we don’t worry about the prices – it’s still so much cheaper than going away.

In the afternoon we do whatever whimsical indulgence we want to … maybe visit an exhibition, have an afternoon nap, write a letter, read a trashy novel – whatever.

At least that’s the plan. . . . .

The project for my latest creative staycation was to create a sand sculpture, without any pressure of time, success, or keeping a client happy. I decided to set it up under the morning shade of a eucalypt on the verge next to our house, figuring I would be lazing around somewhere in the afternoon. . . at least that was the plan.

24 sand (21)Working on the sketches for ideas I drew up a really mean looking bad-arse wolf with huge teeth and an evil grin. Then right next to the wolf but much smaller, a very innocent looking Little Red Riding Hood … with a 44 magnum hiding behind her back. It was sort of a play on those classic old Dirty Harry movies, “Go ahead, make my day!”

Anyway the creative project started off well (like all the best laid plans of mice, men and sand sculptors) but quickly got derailed by two things. First up, the wolf kept being mistaken for a dragon, mainly I think because my many attempts to make wolf like fur kept ending up looking like scales. I was also trying to capture a wolf whose ribs were so prominent, a wolf so starving he would eat the crutch out of a low flying crow . . . .yet at the same time very muscly and powerful. I think the main problem was trying to find a fur texture suitable for a scary wolf.

I got inspired one morning while I was at the beach swimming by looking at the texture of the sand on the bottom of the water and then trying to recreate it using a desert spoon. The resulting texture failed as a sea bed … but made great wolf fur.

22 helpers (2)24 sand (7)The second issue (and I say issue rather than problem) was the interest the sculpture generated from neighbours, friends and random passers-by. So many people stopped to look, chat and eventually join in, that the whole thing become more like a community art project. Shani abandoned her creative project and spent her days showing the neighbourhood kids how to pound up, and making cups of tea. Pretty soon the verge side sculpture had become the place to be on Livingstone Street.

While the whole thing became hugely social and therefore took more time than I was expecting (even allowing for a couple of hundred experiments in creating wolf fur out of sand) I have no complaints. I had so much fun, met so many people and got to see how much people wanted to get engaged, meet their community and get creative.

I’m sure I will do it again at some stage. One of my neighbours suggests I make it an annual Christmas event.

Who knows? – Maybe we’ll have another staycation earlier than that?