Maple leaves, trees and water were recurring motifs as 29 competitors devoted their creativity to the theme of Canada 150 in the 2017 Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition at Parksville’s Community Park last weekend.
In the end, the winning entries were those that focused on Canada’s people — particularly those of its First Nations.
Medals and cash prizes worth more than $40,000 were handed out by the Parksville Beach Festival Committee and various sponsors Sunday, July 16, during an awards ceremony that followed 30 hours of sculping by solo sculptors and teams of two.
Several familiar faces were among those collecting prizes in the annual competition, which draws an international field of sculptors.
David Ducharme of Winlaw teamed with Dmitry Klimenko of Russia to win the doubles category with Canadian Mosaic, a 360-degree series of pillars featuring five Canadian icons — Neil Young, Buffy St. Marie, Terry Fox, Chief Dan George and David Suzuki.
In 2015, Ducharme partnered with Marielle Heesels of The Netherlands to win the doubles competition.
“Dmitri knew Neil Young was Canadian, and that was one of his favourites,” Ducharme said when asked the inspiration for their sculpture. “And he liked Chief Dan George. The others were figures I respected, people from different backgrounds who have all made contributions to our culture.”
Heesels was back as well, teaming this time with fellow Nederlander Hanneke Supply to claim the Competitors’ Choice Award for their sculpture, A Coming Together. That sculpture, too, addressed the Canadian people with a nod toward reconciliation. It depicts a mould, with an indigenous figure on one side and a uniformed Mountie on the other, broken open to reveal a young woman in a contemplative, yoga-like pose.
The top prize among solo competitors went to Leonardo Ugolini of Italy, for Spirits of Canada. It is a panel with a relief of an Aboriginal chief reaching out for a European colonial-era sailing ship, surrounded by wafter-thin silhouettes of other faceless people. The sculpture also earned Ugolini the Competitors’ Choice Award for solo sculptors.
Second place went to last year’s solo winner, Wilfred Stijger of the Netherlands, for his whimsical and somewhat irreverent look at Canada’s recent 150th birthday party. It consists of a gigantic head — bald, wrinkled and wart-covered, complete with a party hat and Canada 150 noisemaker — atop a maple leaf-shaped base that appears to be “leaking” sand from several holes.
The three-day carving period, which ran from July 14-16, drew a visitor count of 14,122, which is the highest opening weekend attendance recorded to date, according to the Beach Festival committee. Those visitors witnessed master sculptors converting 345 tonnes of sand into sculptures based on the community-selected Canada 150 theme.
Parksville Beach Festival Society awarded a total of $43,000 to sculptors Sunday evening.
The results of the competition are as follows:
1. Leonardo Ugolini, Italy: Spirits of Canada
2. Wilfred Stijger, Netherlands: 150
3. Peter Vogelaar; Winlaw, B.C.: The Last Spike
4. Guy Beauregard, Asbestos, QC: Canadance du Soleil
5. Susanne Ruseler; Utrecht, Netherlands: Making a Wish
1. David Ducharme, Winlaw, B.C. and Dmitry Klimenko, Russia: Canadian Mosaic
2. Jacinthe Trudel and Jonathan Bouchard, Quebec: Oh Canada, we stand on guard for Tree
3. (tie) Marianne Van Den Broek and Daniel Belcher; St. Louis, Mo.: Eau Canada; and Guy-Olivier Deveau, Victoria and Damon Langlois, Quebec: Little Iron Horse
Competitors’ Choice Awards
Soloist: Leonardo Ugolini, Italy: Spirits of Canada
Doubles: Marielle Heesels and Hanneke Supply, Rotterdam, Netherlands: A Coming Together
Sculptures will be on exhibit until August 20 at Parksville Community Park. Gates are open from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. Entry by suggested donation of $3. Visitors may vote for their favorite sculpture and those results will be awarded to competitors at the end of the competition. For more information, visit parksvillebeachfest.ca.