By Cameron McCullough Photos Yanni & Supplied
Rosebud resident Meg Murray developed her love of art from an early age. Primarily a painter, she dabbled in sculpting and in the year 2000 stumbled across an exhibition of sand sculpting.
“It really fascinated me,” said Meg. “I looked at these people creating these wonderful works of art and wanted to give it a go”.
While her previous experiences sculpting was solitary and non-competitive experience, sand sculpting proved to be the exact opposite.
“The sand sculpting competitions introduced a competitive edge, but also the freedom to do what I wanted and express myself truly through my sculpting,” said Meg.
“And coupled with that was a vibrant community of sand sculptors that bought with them camaraderie”.
Meg had discovered her passion and her path was set.
It was five days before Christmas in 2008. Meg’s phone rang. Her son Jello had been riding his motorcycle to a barbeque. There had been an accident.
“Driving to the scene, I was filled with dread. I just felt this horrible feeling,” said Meg.
“When I arrived at the scene, I noticed there was no ambulance.
“There was just the body of my son. I lay with him on the road until the coroner came. I could not leave him there alone”.
So, five days before Christmas, with presents for him under the tree, Meg instead began planning a funeral for her beloved Jello.
Her funny, loving, and beautiful boy was gone.
“It was the most torturous time of my life”.
Where to from here?
Meg needed to grieve, but also found herself being pulled back towards her sand sculpting.
“I threw myself back into it. I needed the work, but I also needed the people. Over time, I realised the sand itself was part of my healing process,” said Meg.
Meg found that sand sculpting was a lesson itself in letting go.
“We are so obsessed with material things in life”, said Meg.
“People would come and take great interest in the creation of my sculptures. They would watch day after day the process of forming ten tons of sand into a wonderful work of art.
“But in the end, when all was said and done, after the competition, the sculpture would be knocked over.
“People would say ‘how can you accept that all your hard work is destroyed?’ to which I would reply ‘I know what it is like to make something beautiful only to lose it’”.
The sand has been Meg’s greatest teacher. It has taught her about her strength of character. It has taught her how to heal. It has taught her how to let go.
Sand sculpting taught Meg that it is not the destination that counts, but the journey that is filled with the richness of life.
Meg is widely recognised as one of Australia’s foremost sand sculptors.
Pandemics aside, she is often jetting around the world either competing in competitions or constructing sand sculptures for displays.
“In 2019, I flew to Portugal and Berlin to work on projects,”
“I am due to go to Florida and still have the ticket but will have to wait until travel is normalised.”
Just like any work, it can sound glamorous, but it can be tough.
“You have to stack up jobs to keep the work coming,” said Meg.
“And it is very physical, often working in the heat and without shade for many hours at a time.”
Of course, often you are performing under the gaze of the public, adding to the pressure.
“It can almost be like theatre,” said Meg.
“So much work goes into the design and preparation. You then have a limited amount of time to create your piece with all the components running through your mind, making sure the sand is neither too wet of too dry.”
After two decades sand sculpting, Meg feels she continues to evolve alongside her pieces. She continues to grow technically, but also spiritually and emotionally, as she continues along life’s pathway of impermanence.