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B.C. man's sand sculpture park a lesson in creativity, catastrophe and resilience


When Damon Langlois visited the beach as a boy, he never would have imagined how significant sand would become in his life.

“I never really looked at the sand as an artistic medium,” Damon says.

Back then, Damon preferred drawing people, before growing-up to design products.

“That’s very permanent though,” Damon says. “Whereas sand sculpture is ephemeral.”

But then Damon met a co-worker who sculpted with sand and was invited to try it, he connected with a creative process he calls “intense relaxation.”

“Its just you and the sand and everything washes away,” Damon says.

Even when hundreds of people are watching you.

“I basically dove into the deep-end of competitive sculpting,” Damon smiles.

Damon went on to win five world championships, and earn a Guinness World Record for Tallest Sand Castle, before being hired to travel to Kuwait and design the biggest sand castle park ever made.

“It immersed people in the best stories from the Arabian Nights,” Damon says. “It’s like a graphic novel that you went through.”

Over seven months, Damon researched the stories, and designed dynamic scenes to tell them, before working with more than 70 of the globe’s top talents to build the equivalent of six football fields worth of awe-inspiring wonder.

“You’re looking up at the sculptures that are towering above you and tears were coming from my eyes,” Damon recalls. “I can’t believe this is happening. This is my life’s work.”

And then the storm hit. Damon was told it was the worst in 50 years. It rained relentlessly for three days.

“We watched the park literally get destroyed in front of us,” Damon recalls.

The team was defeated and Damon wondered how they could possibly recover.

“I gave an underdog football coach speech to the team,” Damon laughs. “The Europeans all rolled their eyes and the North Americana where like, ‘Yeah!’”

But like the characters in the epic stories they were sculpting, Damon inspired all the artists to be part of a real-life tale about overcoming adversity.

“It was an opportunity to be heroes,” Damon recalls saying. “To come back from this devastation and still make some things beautiful – which we did.”

Now a decade later, Damon is publishing a book about the project titled “Stories in Sand," featuring his versions of the Arabian Nights tales, illustrated with pictures from the sculpture park.

“I would say it’s masterpiece of sand sculpture,” Damon says of the team’s work.

And the story behind it is proving to be a master class in resilience, plus — after all the beauty that the artists re-built eventually blew away — a lesson in letting go.

“Nothing is forever,” Damon says. “Everything has its cycle and returns to the earth.” Top Stories

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