Sculpting treasures in the sand

Michael Myekwa is a picture of concentration as he works on his sculpture last weekend.

Since September last year, thousands of visitors to Mariner’s Wharf have been treated to the magnificent sand sculptures of Strand resident Michael Myekwa.

Each week Hout Bay social media groups are filled with photographs of the artworks, with animals and the human form the 33-year-old’s subjects of choice.

The attention to detail and the patience Mr Myekwa exhibits while going about his work have made him immensely popular among locals and tourists alike.

Incredibly, this Michelangelo of the beach has no formal training, although he is hoping that will change soon.

“I have been making my sculptures in Strand, Blouberg and Mossel Bay for a few years already, but decided to come to Hout Bay last year,” he told the Sentinel while creating his latest masterpiece on Sunday January 29. “It really started off as a hobby. I was on the beach in Strand and the kids were playing, covering each other with sand. One kid was covered with sand, and I decided to sculpt a soldier’s uniform as he lay there. Then all the kids started taking photos. It really started from there.”

Like all naturally-gifted artists, Mr Myekwa, who is originally from East London in the Eastern Cape, turns to his imagination for inspiration. Recently he has begun to include both humans and animals in individual sculptures, as was the case on Sunday when he depicted infants embracing several big cats.

One of his proudest works in a scene depicting South Africa’s Big Five – a lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino – something he believes really made his name on Facebook.

“I actually didn’t do a lot of work over the Christmas season, as there were a lot of kids on the beach and you have to respect that this is a public space and people want to play.

“I am always happy for people to take photographs of my sculptures, and all I ask is if they like them they leave a donation or tip. I don’t expect payment. No one must be scared to come and have a chat to me or take a photograph while I work. I enjoy bringing joy to people.”

Working as a part-time gardener and handyman, Mr Myekwa would love nothing more than to pursue a career as a professional artist.

“I want to go to art school. I have put feelers out there, but I haven’t heard anything back. But I will carry on. I’m waiting for that call.”

In the interim, the entrepreneurial sculptor has produced a DVD showing how he transforms a basic mound of sand into something magical. He will be selling the film for R50 at Mariner’s Wharf each weekend.

Call him on 060 4123 235 or 078 5485 454.