Arts & Culture

The Sandman creates art to heal from tragedy

Lottie Twyford3 May 2021
man crouching on beach next to sand writing

Troy Purple, known by most as The Sandman, has remained strong in the face of adversity. Photo: Troy Purple – Simple Sand Scribes.

Like the mythical character said to sprinkle sand in children’s eyes, Troy Purple’s sand artworks and scribes can seem like something from a dream.

So much so that “The Sandman” has been accused of them being fake or photoshopped in the past.

But the Far South Coast man’s artworks are most definitely real and they are all created in less than four minutes.

“Most of them will take me between 40 and 50 seconds to complete. I don’t ever have a plan or a design in mind, I literally pick up the stick and start creating.”

After all, this Sandman is at the mercy of the waves.

“As long as I can create my inscriptions and get the required pictures, I don’t get too annoyed,” he said.


READ ALSO: ‘A town hall on wheels’: Sam’s Caravan is a stage that can roll up anywhere


When asked about how he feels about the fleeting or transient nature of the pieces, he is reflective.

“My home in Airlie Beach was destroyed by Cyclone Debbie in 2017 and then almost a year later, my home in Tathra was completely razed to the ground.

“In that bushfire, I lost everything I owned – cards from my parents for my 18th and 21st birthdays, awards from my time as a chef and my surfboards,” he said.

During the Black Summer bushfires, he saved his house in Brogo, although much of the surrounding area and property was destroyed.

“The sand writing is a way of me processing what has happened and of working through these events.”

riot act written on the sand

A special dedication from Troy to The RiotACT. Photo: Troy Purple – Simple Sand Scribes.

Mr Purple will usually rise around 4:00 am and head down to the beach. In any given morning he can create between 100 and 250 art works.

Each of these is washed away when the waves lap onto the shore.


READ ALSO: Meet Harden’s history-making four-legged emergency services recruit


He says some of them are harder to do than others.

“I’m often asked to do some writings for people whose loved ones have passed away and these make me emotional. I’ll often shed a tear when I’m down there alone on the sand.”

Another piece that was particularly poignant for him was a tribute to the Rural Fire Service for their hard work during the Black Summer.

“That was hard to get through because I was also there, living through the thick of it all and I still haven’t healed from all of that yet,” he said.

In another life, Mr Purple was a chef and he says many of the skills he acquired have transferred across to his new venture.

“Once my canvas was a plate and now it’s just the sand,” Mr Purple explained.

For him, for now, heading down to the beach in the morning helps keep him moving forwards.

“I don’t really like other people coming down with me. I like the solitude – watching the sun come up when it’s only me, my thoughts and the wildlife,” he said.

After the creating is done, he heads into the surf for a couple of hours before heading back to the farm.

Mr Purple says he has had some interest from bands and novelists regarding cover artwork for albums and books, but is yet to see any of this come to fruition.

He’ll often create sand scribes for wedding anniversaries, Valentine’s Day and more recently an Anzac Day tribute that garnered a lot of interest online.

He can be contacted via his Instagram page if you’d like to request a particular tribute or piece of art.

Original Article published by Lottie Twyford on The RiotACT.

What's Your Opinion?

Top