Sand art washes away Edward’s worries, then gets erased by the tides

The artist arrived at Torquay’s back beach at 4am on Tuesday and got to work, drawing a 100-metre long face decorated with whales’ tails, flowers and swirls.

At daylight, early risers standing on the surf life saving club balcony saw the ethereal image come to life, the artist using a rake and garden fork.

The delicate piece was flanked by the rust-coloured cliffs and dark scrub on one side, while white foam and the light green swell of the ocean framed the other side.

Within hours, the piece was gone, wiped out by the tide.

But thanks to a camera on a drone, this particular image will survive the rising water.

Edward takes a break from executing a giant sand drawing.Credit:Jason South

It was the latest of more than 500 sand drawings that Edward, a self-described “ephemeral artist”, has created in the past eight years on Victoria’s Surf Coast and Bellarine Peninsula. Some are 300 metres long.

Edward, aged in his late 40s, emulates enigmatic British artist Banksy in not wanting to be identified. He says only that he lives in Greater Geelong and has a full-time desk job.

He follows the philosophy of 13th Century Persian poet Rumi, including this sentiment: “Find your place and close your eyes so your heart can start to see. When you give up feeling self-absorbed, you build community.”

He posts photos of his installations on his Instagram page, breatheablueocean — a name inspired by the rhythm of the waves.

Ephemeral artist Edward’s latest piece outside the surf life saving club at Torquay. Credit:Jason South

Thanks to social media, Edward’s images are seen around the world, depicting everything from butterflies to mythical snakes, geometric shapes and the solar system.

One of his most popular images, drawn at Point Impossible, Torquay, in January 2020, during the Black Summer bushfires, depicted a koala in a burning tree.

Edward was interviewed by US talk show host Kelly Clarkson about the koala piece, and the video of his BBC interview has been viewed 132,000 times.

One of Edward’s artworks depicting a koala in a burning tree.Credit:Instagram

Tourism Australia has used Edward’s sand drawings to promote Australia in China, reaching a social media audience of more than 15 million people, and to the UK market, reaching more than 12 million people on social and other media.

On Tuesday, he drew a second face, not far from the first, on a sandbank between the Torquay Surf Life Saving Club and a boardwalk.

Edward starts drawing before dawn, when he won’t be disturbed. He works free-hand, using his body to gauge dimensions.

A second piece drawn near Torquay Surf Life Saving Club on Tuesday.Credit:Jason South

Edward recently started exhibiting photo prints for sale, taken either by himself or his friend, photographer Adam Stan, at the Hello Birdie Cafe in Ocean Grove, and at Anglesea General Store.

From this month, the public can download images from for $5 to $500 each.

He has done a handful of corporate commissions but says he was paid less than $5000 for each, and is not seeking fame or fortune.

Edward treats sand drawing as a mindfulness exercise.

“When the drone doesn’t work and no one’s around, two hours of work washes away, I’m completely at peace,” he said.

“I don’t go, ‘oh damn, that was a good one, I worked on that and people should see it’.

“It’s to get out of my life experiences, my emotions, my self.”

Torquay Surf Life Saving Club caretaker Tod Walker said he had admired Edward’s images on Instagram, but watching one being drawn from the club balcony on Tuesday was “awesome”.

Mr Walker was amazed the artist could create a “perfect picture” on such a large scale, that made more sense when seen from above than from the beach.

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