From the Midlands to South London via North Devon and careers from pro game show contestant to magician, Andy Robertson travels the world creating sand sculptures including a record-breakingly huge sofa, and a shark that made front page news.
One day I made a sandcastle down on the Southbank, just for fun and someone chucked a pound at me! This was back in the day when no-one else did it down on the Southbank; no-one did it in London. I was busking at the time as a magician and I thought ‘This could be quite a lot easier than doing magic’, so I just kept building them and people kept throwing money and it turned into my full-time job and career! As a child I went to the seaside all the time, I grew-up in the Midlands but when I was a teenager; my parents bought a house in North Devon as we always holidayed along the coast, so I spent along time on Woolacombe Bay honing my skills.
What is the aim of Dirty Beach TV?
Dirty Beach TV has several aims. Firstly, it does promote cleaning Britain’s coastlines and [coastlines] all over the world, we have to clean up all the litter on the Thames before we can start work – we like to tell people that, so they are more aware of their own actions. We encourage people to pick-up their litter or not drop it in the first place. Dirty Beach is also there to entertain. We use the sand as a stage for live music and comedy. We are also building a live TV stream, online when we can get 4G networks in this country, until then we are just dragging our feet in the sand. We often get hired to perform or build works of art for photo shoots and TV. We also run workshops, team building events and private parties.
What had you done before?
Oh, I’ve had a plethora of other jobs. I started out as an engineer; I was Father Christmas once that was my first ‘weird job’ and then I went on to many other ‘weird jobs’. I was a professional game show contestant; I won about £26,000. I was a lap-dancer at Stringfellow’s that was also good fun. Yeah, I worked as a magician, I once opened a magic shop but that didn’t do so well. I sold double-glazing and cooked scallops. I have done quite a lot of things. I worked in TV and became a bit of an actor; I’d do anything for money and even worked behind the camera on a few shoots as an assistant camera person.
Is there a certain technique to making the sand stick?
Erm, just sand and water, it’s really easy. If I go to a festival then I might mix some PVA glue into the water and that will make it last for a few days. Down on the Southbank, where it’s tidal it doesn’t need to last longer than a day as the tide comes in and clears it all away, if it’s a really sunny day I spray the sculptures with water to stop them from crumbling.
You make it look easy! Do you travel much with your job?
We travel all over the world, the furthest we’ve been this year is Australia and you can’t really get further than that, they’ve got nice beaches there but we got into a little bit of trouble with our sand shark. Miami and Malaysia were also fun. The Bahamas was good. We went on a two weeks holiday but we hadn’t any accommodation booked so we went up to the biggest hotel with our buckets and spades and asked to speak to the manager. We offered to make them some sculptures in return for a room and they agreed.
What sculpture are you most proud of?
We set a new world record for the largest sand sofa in a Quarry in the Midlands that was really pleasing (see below). We also made a sculpture for Danny Hillis in tribute to the TED archive; my girlfriend is a scientist, so we made a massive brain and then a body with the brain popping out!
Where is the world's worst beach?
Hmmm, I’m not sure! The beaches in Australia are amazing but there are dangers lurking in the water, we wanted to warn the children by building something that would help them! We built a shark eating a woman, just to show the world that there are real dangers up and down the coast but before we could start our filming a guard smashed it up, it did make front page news though!
What are your plans for the future?
We are going to America soon, to California where they have really nice beaches; I will probably do some sand sculpture, though I might try my hand at something else! I have been to America before, I did a piece in front of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco (see above).
You can view more Dirty Beach past projects and upcoming events at dirtybeach.tv