Beach art grand plan comes full circle

Optical Migraine, Aztec Illusion, and Interfering Butterfly — just some of the mind-boggling images which have been appearing on a West Cork beach in recent months.

The highly stylised geometric designs, some measuring up to 70 metres in diameter, are the work of the newly-formed West Cork Sand Circles, a loose collective who spend several hours every weekend on their art — only to see it washed away by the tide.

Some of the sand-art images are based on the designs of crop circles. Others are simply the creation of co-founder and local computer programmer Matthew Hart — and sometimes they’re just for fun, such as the group’s witch design for Halloween last week.

The organisation has attracted a large following on Facebook, as well as a dedicated team of up to 20 volunteers, who take it in turns to head to the picturesque West Cork beach at Inchydoney every Friday and Sunday, armed with string and rakes.

Matthew, 29, has been creating sand art at Inchydoney on an informal basis since December when a friend brought the idea home from California.

However, with the formation of the group and the creation of its Facebook page, the idea has caught the public’s imagination, and group membership has grown steadily.

Last Saturday, the group fascinated onlookers with a complicated design entitled Optical Migraine.

“It looks like an eye having a seizure,” jokes Matthew, who adds that members of the public enjoy watching the work in progress.

“The majority of people understand what we’re doing — occasionally we would get someone walking across a design because they mightn’t register that it’s there.

“It’s flat and on the sand and quite large. Sometimes the designs can be hard to see from the ground. Once they’re done, we go up on higher ground to get a better perspective and enjoy the complete image.”

The designs can take up to four hours from start to finish.

“If a good few people show up on the day the work goes faster and we can create something bigger and more complex,” said Matthew, a native of Wiltshire in the UK, who has lived in Clonakilty for 20 years.

“The best bit of it is watching the tide wash it all away. It gives us a brand new canvas to work on and, after all, nothing in life is permanent.”

* Search Facebook for ‘West Cork Sand Circles’.

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