Irina Titova: Queen of Sand
- Kelly Apter
- 13 August 2018
Stunning pictures made from sand tell the story of a global voyage
Words can't really do justice to the artistry of Irina Titova, aka 'The Sand Lady', her talent has to be seen to be believed.
Standing in front of a rectangular box containing a few handfuls of sand, she runs her fleet fingers through the grains, as her efforts are projected onto a large screen behind her. With Scottish comedian Fred MacAulay providing the recorded narration, Titova re-creates Jules Verne's classic novel, Around the World in Eighty Days through pictures.
With each tweak and flourish, she creates something new and wonderful, taking us from Paris to London to India and beyond through each city's iconic buildings. You never know quite what's coming next - lines of sand are poured and manipulated until finally the picture begins to emerge in a series of wondrous 'Ah!' moments for the audience.
As Phileas Fogg and his valet, Jean Passepartout traverse the globe Titova uses her incredible artistic skill to shape faces, buildings and the various modes of transport the men use, from hot air balloons to boats. Every now and then she steps back from a particularly impressive image to allow for applause, but much of the time one picture morphs unbelievably into the next.
Just as if she were using a pencil or charcoal, the artworks are tinkered with to give the impression of emotion, movement, light and shade – only she's not using a pencil, pen or paintbrush, she's using sand. And for a whole hour, our amazement at that fact never stops.
Gilded Balloon at the Museum, until 16 Aug, noon, £9.50 (£8.50).