Sydney Festival: Alice in Wonderland Sand Sculptures Provide Touch of Magic in Blacktown

The classic tale of Alice in Wonderland has been brought to life in a series of sand sculptures on display at Blacktown in Sydney’s west.

And the smiles were as wide as the Cheshire Cat as the crowds flocked to see the works of art.

The large-scale scenes of some of Alice’s most memorable moments, including the Mad Hatter’s Tea party, have been created using more than 250 tonnes of sand delivered to the site from a local quarry.

Professional sand sculptors from Australia and overseas worked for 10 days in scorching heat and some rain to produce large-scale scenes of some of Alice’s memorable moments.

Two people made out of sand talking to each other.

American sculptor Dan Belcher has been working professionally for 25 years after initially studying architecture.

“If you’re going to make a living making sand sculpture you have to get used to the fact that impermanence is part of it,” he said.

“So if you don’t enjoy the process, you’re not going to have fun.”

Peter Redmond, from Victoria, said he fell in love with sculpting after being introduced to it by a colleague.

“It’s a great office — generally it’s sunny, it’s warm, you get to talk to people, you travel a bit and [and] you’re always doing something different so in terms of a job it’s an amazing job,” he said.

A man stands in front of a sand sculpture.

The works are made from the top down, carved out of solid, compressed blocks of sand.

Once finished, they are sprayed with a biodegradable sealant which helps them withstand all but the heaviest of downpours.

Christina Mija, from the Blue Mountains, trained originally as a fashion designer, and now divides her time between creating sand sculptures and her own jewellery line.

“It’s satisfying to work in 3D and sometimes you need to use a little bit of trickery to convey the right sort of thing because it’s not always possible because it’s still sand,” she said.

“It’s nice just to create the illusion.”