“I was dubbed the ‘Banksy of Barwon Heads’ by someone on facebook when Premier Dan Andrews, in early December 2019, posted my art on his Facebook page, to uplift Victoria. The nickname stuck for some reason. But I am simply Edward, and my handle on Instagram is Breathe A Blue Ocean – It means – that familiar and initial inhale and exhale one takes when we look at the ocean.
“My art explores animism. Animism – from Latin anima, “breath, spirit, life” – is the belief that objects, places and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence.
“I don’t embody the art in a public forum, hence the anonymity, however I fully embody the art in ratio and dimensions on the sand canvas I use. I have no particular reason for doing what I do. I try not to have thought obstruct the process of what I do.
“I draw under the cover of darkness with no lighting, with a single tool; a rake, a hoe, garden fork or stick, and prepare the artwork for sunrise. The artwork is on average 200m in length and has exceeded 600m in the past. In darkness there are no boundaries, so I create a sense of boundary in image when I etch into sand, it is an emotional process.
“I have a preference for equilibrium or better stated equality, meaning action focused on imbalance. Therefore, I have done art
- to bring awareness to the impact of plastic on the Ocean; e.g The Last Straw Campaign – Great Barrier Reef,
- equality in Sport, The Victorian Open,
- support for Surf Life Saving Australia – Draw the Line Campaign to prevent drownings,
- commissioned artwork for Live Wire Park in Lorne, an off the grid adventure park, all of which have been in the press, social media etc.
- most of the time I pair up with Adam Stan of Adam Stan Photography who photographs and edits the artwork.
“I am often approached by people who are easily marginalized by others, when death has occurred through disease, overdoses or suicide. They ask for a sunrise artwork and therein exists an opportunity to interact with the artwork using sand or chemical free rice powder to add to the artwork. The experience of a sunrise tends to offset the tragic experience of trauma related to death.
“Back to ‘Banksy of Barwon Heads’, in January 2020 I went out in the bushfire smoke and drew a Koala trapped on a burning tree, and wrote ‘Australia Burning’ under it. It was a large-scale artwork. The Melbourne I Love You Facebook page posted it and it went viral. The last count, by ABC Australia, three days after the artwork was released, was in excess of 120 million viewers from all around the world. I was interviewed online by various news agencies around the world. The BBC found out I was dubbed the ‘Banksy of Barwon Heads’ which became an international headline. I was interviewed via Skype by Kelly Clarkson, the singer, on her show, The Kelly Clarkson Show. Her viewership is over 2 million on NBC Universal. The experience was indeed angst provoking for an introvert like me who has no artistic statements and no real explanation for doing what I do. I think my art is much like waves as shown by water in the ocean, it’s a movement in response to all that is around us all the time.
“I’ve been active as an artist since 2017. I started doing sand art in 2015 across the Surf Coast and the Bellarine. Barwon Heads has a beach large enough for the scale I am comfortable with and therefore, I do artwork there more often than other beaches.
“I am just a regular bloke. I have a day job in an organisation not art related, I work 8:30am to 5:00pm and I am not a trained artist. We can’t love people if we judge them and we never know who we are sitting next to on a public bus, it could be someone who may change the world – I like to think that way of strangers instead of judging them. I wonder what they think of me? – Try live the life you envision not the life given to you by others.”
Story: Jacqui Bennett. Photos: Adam Stan Photography