Lonely Planet Writer

Meet the artist creating intricate and ephemeral sand murals across the UK

Everyone knows that whatever mark you leave on the sand, whether it is footprints while taking a stroll along the seashore or a writing you draw with a stick, will eventually disappear. And maybe that’s exactly what makes sand artworks so fascinating— the fact that they’re not going to last except in photos. Marc Treanor of Sand Circles knows very well that “the only thing we can rely on in the three-dimensional world is impermanence,” as he writes on his website.

Marc Treanor draws inspiration for his sand art from the crop circles of South West England. Image courtesy of Marc Treanor

Calling what Marc does “sand circles” might be a little reductive— you can see his intricate designs up and down the beaches of the United Kingdom, and especially in his native Wales. “I had been studying the crop circles of South West England for a number of years,” he told Lonely Planet when he explained how he started, during a family holiday in Cornwall about nine years ago. “I had also been following the work of sand artist Peter Donnelly of New Zealand.” His first design, which he described as a “rough geometrical sand drawing pattern,” was born out of those influences.

Geometric patterns are the first designs Marc experimented with. Image courtesy of Marc Treanor

“I find inspiration everywhere,” Marc explained. “From patterns in nature to drawings on the Internet, and more recently from pushing myself into new areas by accepting commissions that challenge me.”

“I find inspiration everywhere”. Image courtesy of Marc Treanor

It’s those commissions that have been very popular over the past years, especially pieces meant to feature in a wedding proposal. “I did one for a lovely Australian guy who wanted to propose to his girlfriend,” Marc recalled. “When I asked him if he had any ideas for the drawing he said the only thing he could think of was her car, and I suggested this might not have the romantic effect he was hoping for!.” Eventually, the two created the design of a pair of horses nuzzling into each other— and of course, she said yes!

Wedding proposals are some of the most frequent requests Marc gets. Image courtesy of Marc Treanor

While wedding proposals are very in demand, Marc’s work spans other events and occasions. He worked for the National Theatre of Wales by creating a work on Tenby beach to promote their production of the Tide Whisperer; partnered with Ceredigion Council by drawing eight images to celebrate Wales’ Year of the Sea; and he also worked together with three other sand artists in different parts of Europe on a commission by the European Environment Bureau to bring awareness to the issue of plastic and ocean pollution.

Marc worked with three other artists on this commission by the EEB. Image courtesy of Marc Treanor

Some of Marc’s future works include a piece for the 70th birthday of a retired musician, another birthday piece (this time for a group of young women in North Wales), and hopefully some time to dedicate to his own works to include in his calendar. “This year has been very full of making pieces for others,” he said, “not that I’m complaining!”

The best way to catch Marc’s artworks is keeping an eye on his Facebook page. Image courtesy of Marc Treanor

If you want to stay updated on where Marc’s sand art will pop up next, you can follow him on his website and on his Facebook page, which he tries to update regularly with information on his next artworks.