Creepy Crawlies – Sand Sculpting Australia : Part 1

02/27/2011 at 7:31 AM (Art) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

The Frankston sand sculpture exhibition, made up of a heavy sand known as ‘brickies’ sand brought in from Graham Quarries in Langwarrin,  pays homage to Tim Burton with its depiction of insects and gastropods in their 2011 exhibit titled Creepy Crawlies. It makes sense to use the insect theme since apparently there are 220,000 insect species in Australia. But apart from the insect based constructions, there are displays of other creatures such as Annelids and Amphibians too.

1. The entrance display Creepy Crawlies greets us:

The entrance vignette at Creepy Crawlies sand sculpture exhibition

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

It provides an overview of the creepy crawlies that you are to encounter within the exhibit. This mostly shows insects under the arthropod classification and a group within the mollusc family called gastropods. The sand sculpture is completely solid and there is no foam or open space beneath them. To build it, the sand is compacted into wooden forms to create shapes and sizes of the structures in a form resembling a giant wedding cake with many layers. These layers help the sculptors to climb to the top, remove the wooden formwork from the uppermost layer and begin carving. They climb down the different layers to carve instead of using scaffolding or ladders. Once complete, a biodegradable sealant is used to repel moisture and preserve structures.

2. The second was an exhibit of a flea circus:

Flea Circus exhibit at Creepy Crawlies exhibition

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Fleas are parasites that feed on the blood of their hosts like mosquitoes. But fleas prefer four-legged hosts because fur is much more hospitable to them than human skin. Because they don’t have wings, fleas have adapted to jumping long distances instead. Flea circuses originally were sideshow attractions at travelling carnivals where spectators could watch them through special lenses but nowadays magicians and clowns are the only people who might use it as a sideline act. Even then, these days they are more likely to use mechanical devices rather than fleas. You shouldn’t blame them because in the 14th century, fleas caused the death of over 200 million people by spreading the Bubonic Plague from rats to humans.

3. Sewer Connection was the depiction of an underground sewerage system:

Sewer Connection exhibit at Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

There have been many stories of animal sightings in sewers that range from the credible to the absurd. Despite these stories, no evidence confirming these reports have been found making it far more likely to be an urban legend. The only animals found in sewers usually have been washed in during storms and conditions in the sewer make it hard for them to survive. The only exceptions might be rats, spiders and cockroaches.

4. The Boogie Man was the subject of the fourth sculpture:

Boogie Man exhibit at Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Remember The Nightmare before Christmas by Tim Burton? This is based on the character of Mr Oogie Boogie, the Boogie Man. Famous for scaring children into compliance in many cultures all over the world, this particular version resembles a hessian sack. In the film where he is the main villain, it turns out bugs have a lot to do with him. The word ‘bogey’ or ‘boogie’ originates from the Middle English word ‘bogge’ or ‘bugge’ which is also from where the word ‘bug’ derives its name.

5. Bed Bugs had pride of place in sand next:

Bed Bugs exhibit for Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

“Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite.” Have you heard this refrain? Bed bugs are wingless insects that shelter in dark places close to where people sleep. So I would check mattresses, floorboards, carpets and behind loose wallpaper since these bugs like to feed on human blood. Their saliva, injected when feeding, can make our skin react badly. During the mid 20th century, the incidence of bed bugs became low but now thanks to international travel, resistance to insecticides and the prevalence of central heating, the numbers are multiplying.

6. The Exterminator was next in line:

Exterminator exhibit from Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Technology has developed its electronics to become smaller with progress. Robots based on insects have become popular and there are many ‘robo bugs‘ in the toy market. Using the same principles, miniature robots have been created for rescue operations such as building collapses. With the use of an artificial antenna, these bugs can navigate in the dark through small crevices. Perhaps this pest control guy has the wrong address! Once the technology has been perfected, these robots can be used in emergency situations. You might have heard that cockroaches (plus other insects) could survive a nuclear blast but after a month or two, the effects of radiation will finish them off.

7. Beatlemania was a rather quirky one:

Beatlemania exhibit from Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

The Beetles was the name The Beatles originally had as a tribute to Buddy Holly and the Crickets when they decided to change from being The Quarreymen. Beetles make up 40% of the insect population and the 400,000 species of beetles classified depicts their ability to live in nearly any habitat. Beetles eat anything from hardwood to ooze from rotting fungi making them an invaluable asset to any ecosystem.

8. Lair of the Spider Queen was this one’s title:

Lair of Spider Queen exhibit at Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

In 1941, there was a Golden Age comic book character called Spider Queen. She was the secret identity of Sharon Kane, sworn nemesis of all evildoers. This modern take of her is surrounded with more spiders. An ancient source of fear and fascination, they range from the Armoured spider that has a body the size of a pinhead to the South American Goliath Tarantula – so big that its legs span a dinner plate!

9. The Hive was displayed next in its glory:

The Hive exhibit at Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Did you know it is estimated that one third of the human food supply depends on insect pollination? Bees have a big role to play because they are important in the pollination of plants. Beehives are constructed in that hexagonal honeycomb shape because it allows each cell to contain the maximum amount of honey for minimum wall space. These nests only have a single entrance.

10. Giant Scorpion was smaller than some other creations:

Giant Scorpion exhibit at Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Scorpions belong to the Arachnid family. Although mostly nocturnal creatures, they can be active in daytime during enduring wet weather. The ones in Northern parts of Australia are more venomous. Most live for 2-10 years but some have lived to the ripe old age of 25! Also scorpions glow in the dark under ultraviolet light.

11. A Closer Look was an interesting sight:

A Closer Look exhibit at Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

This is a sculpture suggesting we unwittingly eat a lot of bugs in our food. This includes tiny caterpillars in the salad lettuce and weevils in flour baked into cakes. But throughout the world, there are some cultures which consider them a delicacy. Well, why shouldn’t they? Insects are a rich source of protein, vitamins and minerals.

12. Enchanted Garden was an illustration of the less creepy insects:

The Enchanted Garden exhibit at Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Do you find every insect revolting? Butterflies, dragonflies and ladybirds can perhaps even be considered ‘cute’. This garden sand sculpture is home to creepy crawlies of the delightful variety. It also includes snails, crickets and grasshoppers but they are ‘good’ insects because they make gardens thrive.

To be Continued….

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