Local Heart, Global Soul

February 14, 2011

Defying Logic and making the Impossible Appear Possible.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The last of the Sand Sculptures deserves it’s own post because it is made up of three of the artists works… and for many people the style is instantly recognisable because the artist is:

Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972)

Better known as “M.C. Escher” is certainly the most famous Dutch Artist of the recent past. Escher was a graphic designer most well known for this woodcuts, mezzotints and lithographs which feature seemingly impossible constructions based on mathematical formulations.

Maurits Cornelis, nicknamed “Mauk”  was born in Leeuwarden but in 1903 the family moved to Arnhem. A sickly child he struggled academically, excelling only in drawing. He studied carpentry, piano and architecture briefly, before switching to decorative arts.

In 1922 Escher travelled though Italy and Spain, then back to Italy with wife Jetta Umiker,  who he married in 1924. and they lived in Rome until 1935 when the deteriorating political climate under Mussolini forced a move to Switzerland.

However Escher wasn’t happy in Switzerland and the family moved to Ukkel (Belgium) until  events during the Second World War forced them to move again in January 1941, to Baarn, back in The Netherlands.

Most of his better known works were produced here and he lived in Baarn until 1970, before entering Rosa Spier House in Laren which was a retirement home for artists (complete with his own studio). He died in Rosa Spier on 27 March 1972,  aged 73.

The  Sand Sculpture incorporates three of his well known works:

Waterfall (1961) is a Lithograph that appears to show water falling in front of a waterwheel, going underneath it, logically running uphill.before falling in front of it again. This paradox is achieved by taking advantage of  quirks of human perception and perspective.

Wikipedia tells us:

The aqueduct begins at the waterwheel and flows behind it. The walls of the aqueduct step downward, suggesting that it slopes downhill. The aqueduct turns sharply three times, first to the left, then straight forward and finally to the left again. The viewer looks down at the scene diagonally, which means that from the viewer’s perspective the aqueduct appears to be slanted upward.

The viewer is also looking across the scene diagonally from the lower right, which means that from the viewer’s perspective the two left-hand turns are directly in line with each other, while the waterwheel, the forward turn and the end of the aqueduct are all in line.

The second left-hand turn is supported by pillars from the first, while the other two corners are supported by a tower of pillars that begins at the waterwheel. The water falls off the edge of the aqueduct and over the waterwheel in an infinite cycle.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Reptielen (Reptiles) (1943)

Escher made several different reptile prints. the most famous of which, depicts a desk on which is a drawing of a tessellated pattern of reptiles. The reptiles come to life and crawl around the desk and over the objects on it to eventually re-enter the drawing.

The reptiles in the sand sculpture are not an exact replica of the 1943  “Reptielen” so must belong to some of the other ones, although I couldn’t find exactly which one.

“Wentelteefje” (Curl-Up) (1951)

This is the only work by Escher which consists largely of text. The text, which is written in Dutch, describes an imaginary species called “Pedalternorotandomovens centroculatus articulosus”, also known as “wentelteefje” or “rolpens”. He says this creature came into existence because of the absence in nature of wheel shaped, living creatures with the ability to roll themselves forward.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The creature is elongated and armored with several keratinized joints. It has six legs, each with what appears to be a human foot.

It has a disc-shaped head with a parrot-like beak and eyes on stalks on either side.

It can either crawl over a variety of terrain with its six legs or press its beak to the ground and roll into a wheel shape.

It can then roll, gaining acceleration by pushing with its legs. On slopes it can tuck its legs in and roll freely. This rolling can end in one of two ways; by abruptly unrolling in motion, which leaves the creature belly-up, or by braking to a stop with its legs and slowly unrolling backwards.

The word wentelteefje is Dutch for French toast, “wentel” meaning “to turn over”. Rolpens is a dish made with chopped meat wrapped in a roll and then fired or baked. “Een pens” means “belly”, often used in the phrase beer-belly.

There is a diagonal gap through the text containing an illustration showing the step by step process of the creature rolling into a wheel.

This creature appears in two more prints completed later the same month, ‘House of Stairs”  and “House of Stairs II.”




Whilst we are on a more modernist theme there was another sand sculpture, but the name of the artist I really don’t know…  if anyone knows the title and/or the artist then I’d be very pleased to hear from you… and so with this little mystery I conclude my Sand Series photos but  my admiration for these amazing Sand Sculpture artists remains. Stunning,  wouldn’t you agree?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)


  1. Wow those sand sculptures are awesome, when I see one I rememeber my childhood where we always go to beach and make our our and wait for the waves to flatten it all out when the high tide sets in

    Comment by rsmacaalay — February 14, 2011 @ 8:13 am | Reply

    • My “sandcastles” at the beach as a kid were more mounds of crumbling sand with a moat around it. I liked to dig a deep moat out to the sea and to watch the incoming waves slowly travel up and then surround the “castle”. Usually the water channels were far better built than anything else LOL.

      Comment by kiwidutch — February 14, 2011 @ 5:35 pm | Reply

  2. It’s the last photo you’re unsure about? That’s actually not modern at all; it’s a compilation of bits of works by Hieronymus Bosch. He did some truly weird and nightmarish images. Dalí has nothing on Bosch. 😉 This particular sand sculpture seems to be drawing mainly from various scenes from The Garden of Earthly Delight triptych, particularly the Hell panel. http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/bosch/delight/

    Comment by Alison — February 14, 2011 @ 9:23 am | Reply

    • Thanks Alison!
      As soon as I saw the “Hell” painting in the link you sent I realised that I *did* know this artist after all from my Art History days. (I didn’t particularly like his work though, it’s very creepy and I never spent time drooling over his work like I did the others LOL) You Are SOOOO right, Dali has nothing on Bosch for winner of the weird prize! Thanks so much for filling in the gaps and jogging my memory!

      Comment by kiwidutch — February 14, 2011 @ 7:10 pm | Reply

  3. I was about to compare the last image to one by Bosch and see Alison has beat me to it. I always found his work to be a little creepy. However, I do love Escher’s work. Thank you for sharing these marvelous photos of such beautifully rendered sand scuptures. Art certainly does inspire art doesn’t it?

    Comment by flandrumhill — February 14, 2011 @ 1:19 pm | Reply

    • There is an Escher Museum here in The Hague. One day (with or without the kids) I aim to get there and when I do you can be sure of a looong blog post on the works I find. The sand sculpture artists are to be commended because their woks are considerable works of art in themselves.

      Comment by kiwidutch — February 14, 2011 @ 7:25 pm | Reply

  4. Yep. Bosch. It’s the “Tree Man” detail from the right panel, with slight alterations in perspective. The work’s in the Prado Museum in Madrid. Bosch is pretty unique and not easily categorized into a school or style. You might call him a Medieval Surrealist – more related to Dali, since both re-expressed a sort of extreme Catholicism through personal dream and vision filters.

    Great series of posts.

    Comment by Invisible Mikey — February 14, 2011 @ 6:54 pm | Reply

    • I might have recognised the “tree man” if I had seen the ladder… but I missed seeing it in the sand sculpture and only recognised it now after seeing the painting in Alison’s link. The boat and the three birds also threw me…I don’t recognise them at all.
      I never studied Bosch in any depth (and glad of it at the time because I don’t particularly like his work and if he was trying to scare sinners by painting his visions of Hell, well I think it still works today LOL) Ouch…If these were his dreams then what must his nightmare’s have been like???

      Comment by kiwidutch — February 14, 2011 @ 7:38 pm | Reply

  5. I’d be interested to know the name of the sand sculptor(s).

    Comment by doc reiss — February 26, 2011 @ 7:47 am | Reply

    • I found a small plaque that says that the first Sand Sculpture is by Susanne Ruseler (Nederland) and Baldrick Buckle (United Kingdom) but I didn’t manage to find out if they did all of them. These are the only two names I have, I hope it helps, sorry I can’t offer more information.

      Comment by kiwidutch — February 26, 2011 @ 9:01 am | Reply

  6. […] while back when some of his work was featured in a sand sculpture  in the city center last summer; https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/new-304/  I’m looking forward to the day when I can get out and about and enjoy places like this […]

    Pingback by Good and Bad blending seamlessly together like an MC Escher… « Local Heart, Global Soul — August 3, 2011 @ 1:04 am | Reply

  7. […] I previously wrote about wanting to visit this exhibition:  https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/new-462/  and Escher also featured on my blog when he was one of the chosen artists who had works displayed as a detailed sandcastle  piece here:  https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/new-304/. […]

    Pingback by A Very Palatial Art Exhibition… | Local Heart, Global Soul — January 31, 2014 @ 1:00 am | Reply

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