Artist's fleeting bursts of creativity

00:42, Mar 23 2011
Murray Neill
TIME AND TIDE: Beach artist Murray Neill's brush is a rake and his canvas is flat sand at low tide. He is pictured working on a Celtic knot design.

Beach art – all it takes is a rake and an hour on the beach at low tide.

For computer technician Murray Neill, who loves to doodle in the sand at Rabbit Island, it's a great excuse to go to the beach, and he'd love to see others give it a go.

"Everybody has drawn with a stick on the beach writing their name, this just takes it to another level," he said.

He creates impressive designs ranging from a stingray to a Celtic knot – only to have them washed away as the tide comes in. "I fell in love with the temporary nature of it, whatever you create can only last 12 hours. It's art for art's sake," he said.

He has always liked to create and finds it a quick, cheap, easy way to do so.

He isn't the only one doing it. After creating a big stingray at the end of Rabbit Island on Saturday he drove home to Hira and on the way noticed another beach artist had created designs on Tahunanui Beach. He doesn't know who it is but is happy that others are also being creative. He also likes the idea of a beach art competition event.


"It's not as difficult as it looks and is something everybody should give a go, you only need a rake and an hour or two. Let your imagination run wild, it's rewarding."

His works are often admired. Yesterday on the beach at Rabbit Island, Brandon Haws, Laura Wolfe and Lena Wolfe were taking photos.

Mr Haws said it was the first time he had seen beach art. Lena Wolfe said: "It's an interesting form of temporary art but there's something beautiful in the simplicity which brings you back to when you played in the sand with sandcastles and drawing."

Sometimes Mr Murray just doodles in the sand but when he wants to do a big, 45-metre long design he sketches it on a maths exercise book, then at the beach paces it out square for square.

Mr Murray is impressed that nobody has ever walked across his work.

"People drift around and I think that's kind of lovely. It's not necessary but it's funny how people observe that little courtesy. I didn't expect it."

Mr Murray got hooked through his passion for kite flying and kite aerial photography. He was looking for more interesting things to photograph from the air, and so created the beach designs.

"It's just turned into a lovely combination of hobbies," he said.

The Nelson Mail