My kids inherited their father’s obsession with making sandcastles. No beach trip is complete without a major construction project. We take a full-size garden shovel when we go to the beach—that’s how serious they are about it.
Their creations can reach well over a metre tall and cover twenty square metres of beach.
Last week, there were some families with preschoolers on the beach with us. When castle construction halted for lunch, the kids came over to investigate. They splashed in the pools and admired the turrets and bridges. They spent ages enjoying my family’s creations.
Later, as people walked past, many stopped, or walked around the castle complex to get a better look. Some stopped to chat or comment. All of them smiled.
This is what art does.
Not that sandcastles on the beach are Art with a capital A, but they are a form of creative expression like all art. And art is meant to be appreciated and enjoyed.
Art can make people smile. It can encourage strangers to talk to one another. At its best, it encourages interaction—with the art, with each other. It inspires. It provokes.
Too often, we step out our doors and put on our uniform—our “normal” face and behaviour. This is good, to an extent (norms of behaviour are generally there to help us all live together without excess friction). But all that uniformity is cold and sterile. Uniformity doesn’t encourage us to smile and talk to one another. I think that if more people expressed their creativity openly in public for everyone to enjoy, the world would be a better place.