From beach to book

  • Nicky Gurret

  • Nicky Gurret has created a book with pictures of beach art created as part of the annual competition she ran here for six years (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Nicky Gurret has created a book with pictures of beach art created as part of the annual competition she ran here for six years (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

As the years pass, memory fades and sometimes, photographs, too.

Worried by that, Nicky Gurret decided a book would help preserve the art she and others had created in sand over the years.

Beach Art: Bermuda Beach Therapy is an ode to the designs they drew between the high and low-tide marks; a rake and imagination their only tools.

The creations all featured in the Bermuda Beach Art Festival, an annual event Ms Gurret started in 2011 and ran for six years.

“I did the book because I’ve always wanted to do a book [and] it’s a topic that’s so unique,” said the architect, who has a passion for floral design and “all forms of art”.

“Not many people could do a book like this and I was not doing the beach art festival any more. I decided to stop doing it and wanted a memory of it.”

Her husband, Tyrone Chin, got her interested. On the tube in London, England, he’d spotted a newspaper article detailing the worldwide competition of “this thing called beach art” in Jersey, the largest of the UK’s Channel Islands.

“He came home and said, ‘Nicky, I have something for you, I think you’d be interested.’ Beach art is drawing on the beach between high tide and low tide on a flat piece of sand that nobody’s touched if you get there early enough.

“In the article was images of what these artists had drawn on beaches all over Jersey, beautiful pieces of art. I said, ‘My gosh, we’ve got to do that in Bermuda where the beaches are so beautiful.’”

She read articles and watched videos and then, “just went out there and tried”.

“You do it with a stiff garden rake, it’s not that complicated. I love design, I love art, I do all forms of art and this was another form I could explore.”

At the time, she was president of L’Alliance Française des Bermudes and, as it so happened, the winner of the competition in Jersey was French. Ms Gurret brought him in to speak to the group; a workshop offered lessons to anyone with an interest.

From there came the idea of an annual competition with prizes and a ceremony. As the rising tide limited the life span of each design, people would e-mail pictures for judging.

As participation grew, Ms Gurret took on a partner, Lynne Matcham.

“She would come to my house at 4pm and we would look at all the pieces and decide and then we would go to Elbow [Beach] and have a ceremony. So it was really quick.”

Apart from the nightmare day when internet provider North Rock Communications didn’t work for an hour, the event was a success that usually pulled in about 50 people from around the island.

Beach Art: Bermuda Beach Therapy features many of their contributions as well as some by guest artists that visited the island and taught workshops over the years: Sam Dougados, Andy Coutanche, Andres Amador and Tony Plant.

According to the book’s synopsis: “Beach art is a process of drawing patterns and images in the sand between the high and low-tide marks, with nothing more than an ordinary gardening rake, to create beautiful works of art. Beach art presents a moment in time of ephemeral art, captured with the lens of the camera, before the tide rises and the washes it all away. Nicky Gurret has compiled some photos of hers and her friends and guest beach artists over the years on Bermuda beaches for all to enjoy, intermingled with contemplative quotes that not only reflect on the nature of a Bermuda beach, but beaches all over the world.”

Beach Art: Bermuda Beach Therapy is available at Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art, the Bookmart at Brown&Co and Bermuda Book Store.

Said Ms Gurret: “I’ve done it. I’m relieved and happy about it. I have a sense of fulfilment, finally.”

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Published Feb 24, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 24, 2020 at 11:51 am)

From beach to book

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