Atelier NL is a design studio in Eindhoven. Lonny van Ryswyck is one-half of the duo behind the studio and their project, To See a World in a Grain of Sand.
As part of this project they built their own glass oven to create glass from sand samples from around the world considered defect by most glassmakers as they only use white sand and add colour later. Read my previous article for more info: https://josiepurcellphotographyma.wordpress.com/2017/10/24/atelier-nl-what-a-discovery/
In her TedX Amsterdam Women talk she says their work did not begin to create a solution for sand scarcity with their work, it was more about the sheer beauty of sand, but now it has become part of the conversation about the problem.
Her excitement and passion for sand reminds me, of me. I only found out about this particular environmental concern earlier this year but since doing so, it feels as though I need to continue to work towards raising its profile.
I truly feel there is much longevity in my photographic response to the problem. Although it has been sparked by a desire to highlight the sand crisis rather than simply an aesthetic design idea, I am not creating documentary images but I am calling on the beauty of sand and how it creates a cause and effect all of its own when used in certain photographic processes. The combinations of sand, seawater and UV swirl together through my hand to produce aesthetically pleasing work that holds a strong story at its core.
Van Ryswyck speaks about how the more she looks at sand, the more she learns about geology, history and the land we live on.
I wanted to find out what people felt about sand and asked for feedback via my social media channels.
Overall, most people shared very similar sentiments. They spoke of how it meant walking along a beach barefoot on a warm summers’s day; or that it lifted their spirits; or that it made them feel connected to the earth; reconnected to nature and, of course, happy.
Daniel Simon (Daniel Simon Photography) via Instagram said that, “I live in Dubai. Sand is everywhere. In shoes, drifting on balconies. Between buildings. Surrounding the shining glass city patiently waiting to reclaim it.”
This is the closest I think I got to any comment that related to more than how sand effected someone emotionally. But no one spoke about the sand crisis.
To that end I feel it is essential I begin to weave in stories from people who have been, or are being effected by the environmental issue.
There are a number of environmental organisations that I feel I need to connect with such as those mentioned by Denis Delestrac in his Sand Wars film, but also, I hope to be able to connect with the Water Integrity Network (WIN) to discuss its work in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka holds a special place in my heart. I became close to a family I met while visiting the country, and we have stayed in touch. I am hoping to travel back to see them again soon, but this time I want to hold a photographic workshop that explores their community’s knowledge of local/global sand use and how illegal sand mining can effect environments in various ways.
Their village was hit by the 2004 tsunami. In an article on the WIN website it states, “In Sri Lanka, it has been convincingly proven that excessive sand mining aggravated the impact of the 2004 tsunami. I want to find out more.
Water Integrity Network. Available at: http://www.waterintegritynetwork.net/2013/10/08/curbing-illegal-sand-mining-in-sri-lanka/ [accessed November 19, 2017]