SINGAPORE - For many of the sand sculptors who competed at the Sentosa International Sand Sculpting Championship, it is not just about living out a childhood dream of playing on the beach.
They are artists who have had experience with other materials such as clay, bronze and ice.
Dutch sculptor Marielle Heessels, who has been sculpting with sand for 11 years, turned to the material because she could use it to create huge pieces in less time.
Originally a sculptor for museums and parks, she discovered sand sculpting while looking for extra work.
"I didn't know it was so professional," said the 49-year-old.
"I worked with foam, clay and resins mostly. (Sand) has limits because you always have to think about support, but you can make huge sculptures fast. Other materials are also usually more expensive."
She is among 14 sand sculptors from 13 countries who competed in the inaugural Sentosa International Sand Sculpting Championship 2017 that concluded on Thursday (Aug 31).
The winner, Pedro Mira from Portugal, took home a cash prize of US$5,000 (S$6,800) with his sculpture Broken Heart; runner-up Bob Atisso from Togo took home US$2,500 and Wiaczeslaw Borecki from Poland was third, winning US$1,500.
The competition's theme was "Imagination".
Each work was judged on the subject and delivery of its message, design, creativity, technique and 360-degree carve - meaning that all sides had to be used for their sculpture.
All 14 works will be available for public viewing from Friday (Sept 1) to Sept 17 on Siloso Beach in Sentosa.
The sculptures range from personal ones such as a sculptor's children's dreams to environmental messages about protecting the ocean to commentaries on technology to cats ruling the world.
Mira said his winning Broken Heart piece symbolises a universal experience.
The 46-year-old, who has been sculpting with sand for 11 years, explained his preference for sand despite the fact that the works do not last long: "In fact, what I like about sand is that it's temporary and doesn't last.
"Everything is impermanent anyway, so it reminds me to enjoy the path and not the end. That's what we are all doing here in this life anyway."
The Sentosa International Sand Sculpting Championship is part of Sentosa Sandsation 2017.
The festival features two other sections: Our Sandsational Singapore, which features 15 sculptures that take on Singapore colloquialisms such as "So Jialat!" and "Jiak Zua"; and Shifting Sand 2, which features works by local professional sand sculptor Tan Joo Heng, who is celebrating his 20th year of sand sculpting.
Tan, whose works invite viewers to step into and be among them, said: "Sentosa will forever hold a special place in my heart as this was the place that propelled the start of my sand sculpting career.
"I would certainly love to see this event grow in the coming years and more Singaporeans inspired to shine on the global stage of sand sculpting."