Rainbow Dreaming  

sand sculpture

The Mer King & Queen
Image: © Steve Machell


I was born and grew up in Brisbane but at the age of 19 the magnetic pull of the ocean became too strong to resist. I left Brisbane and my studies in information technology and decided to travel around Australia. It was a few years later that I discovered sand sculpting.

It all started on St Kilda beach, Melbourne, in 1998. One of my traveling buddies had seen some sand sculptures on the Canary Islands, so we decided to give it a go.

At the time I was looking for direction in my life. I’d just made a new year’s resolution to find a career or way of life that involved making people happy, was fun and wouldn’t tie me to one place forever.

I had found it. I was hooked. My traveling buddies soon moved on, but I felt I had found my calling. I stuck at it and through trial and error evolved my own unique style.

After a couple of years traveling to different beaches, Byron Bay became my home base. My creations have taken me all over the world, from competitions, to conventions, to private commissions, to campaigns like Build a Castle Save a Reef, a fundraiser in Saipan run by the Light in the Eve foundation.

Then it’s back to my favourite place in the world, Byron main beach. Byron’s always had a special magic for me and no matter where I travel I’ll always come back there. It is where I developed my style and reputation, so without Byron I don’t think I would have ended up with one of the best jobs in the world.

On a sunny day if I’m in town you’ll find me down on main beach in Byron, molding the sand into magic. At sunset I light the sculpture with candles, which really brings my creations to life.

I’ve tried other mediums but sand is my favorite. Something about its ephemeral nature appeals to me; it’s a clean and quick medium to use. It’s a performance art and at the end of the day it gets washed away by the elements. It’s all about the creation and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

One of my dreams is to build a life-size castle...

Steve Machell, sandologist, Byron Bay

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