Hands in the Sands

24 October 2010

All over the world sculptures have used terra firma is a visual metaphor for water.  Hands reach out from the sands in the most unexpected places.  We thought we would show you a selection. We will start with The Awakening which can be found on the Maryland shores of the Potomac.  The creation of J Seward Johnson Jr it consists of five separate parts, made from aluminium.

It had been the large statue rising from the ground in residence in the East Potomac Park since 1980 but was moved to the National Harbor in George's County in 2007.  At the time many people objected to its going, particularly the male members of the community who had been unable to resist, when boys, clambering in and out of the gian't mouth.

They still get to play with the statue in its new home however.  The overall impression we get from this statue is one of panic - it is as if the giant (who would be 100 feet high if he was standing) is drowning, a theme which many hands in the sands share.  The right foot and left hand are barely above the surface.  The right art, however, reaches out further - 17 feet all told.  Some think that the statue is of the sea god Neptune, others think it's just a great big aluminium impression of a man being buried alive.  The former explanation is best for the squeamish.

It also gives photographers the opportunity for some trick photography.

In Uruguay the sculpture Monument to the Drowned (Monumento al Ahogado) is know locally simply as La Mano or The Hand.  It is just that - a single hand protruding from the sands on Brava Beach in Punta del Este - one of the country's popular beach resorts.

The hand is the creation of Chilean artist Mario Irarrázabal and was made during a competition on the beach in 1982.  The competition was held on the public square but there were no places left so Irarrázabal decided to create his on the beach.  It serves as a warning that the waters at La Barra (part of the beach) are not safe for casual swimmers.

Irarrázabal completed the sculpture in only six days.  It is made from plastic and concrete reinforced with bars made of steel.  Although it occasionally falls foul of graffiti artists it is enjoyed by most (including it seems the local dogs) and is the only sculpture from the competition still in situ.

Irarrázabal  returned to his home country of Chile and to the Atacama Desert for his next project.  Entitled simply Mano del Desierto (Hand of the Desert) it is simply a hand protruding from the sand, but perhaps not quite human.  Is it a sign of greeting?

div style="text-align: center;">Image Credit Flickr User Teosaurio
It looks like something Fox Mulder may have used to claim that the truth is out there.

The scultpure is not in danger of being stolen.  It stands eleven meters (or 36 feet) and is too heavy to be taken away in the night unless by the most organised of art thieves.  Inuagurated in 1992 this statue too has been the victim of graffiti (which must be annoying, disappointing and perhaps distressing when you reach it).

It is near Route 5 which is part of the Pan-American Highway.  As such it has become a focal point or meeting place for on the road tourists, including these bikers from Compass Expeditions.  The guys certainly enable us to get a real feel for the sheer size of the Hand in the Desert.

Homigot in Korea is home to The Hand of Harmony. Not only is this hand on the beach but each day the waves lap around it.  Made of bronze and granite it is one of a pair, the other being safely on land.  However, to this writer it looks suspiciously like something Charlton Heston might find at the end of a film featuring talking apes.

It has proved difficult to discover the originator of this work.  Korean websites maintain that it was a gtoup effort and is a symbol of the pursuit by all Korean citizens of a better quality of life.  It certainly looks impressive in the light of dawn. Waving or drowning?

Help!
Do you know of any sculptures that would fit in with the others in this post?  If so, either leave a message below or contact Kuriositas using the Contact and Submit Links tab at the top of the page.  If we can find good quality Creative Commons pictures, we will add on to this and make it an ongoing 'project'.  Thanks!

First Reply!

Kuriositas reader Axton Nichols dropped me a line with a picture of the sculpture above.  He says "Your Hands in the Sands post reminded me of a statue here on campus at the University of Oklahoma.  Obviously it's not a hand, or in the sand, but I see it everyday when I go to class and have always thought it was neat."

It certainly is that. - OK it isn't quite hands in the sand but it is magnificent. It is called Pastoral Dreamer and is a triple life size bronze sculpture by David L Phelps originally commissioned in 2003.  Phelps is an internationally collected sculptor known for monumental contemporary figurative artwork in bronze, cast concrete and fabricated steel. He also creates small and medium sized sculptures as unique pieces and in editions of bronze castings.  Thanks, Axton for the picture.


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