By Emma Boyes
At first glance, sand and sci-fi would appear to have very little in common. But that would just be because you haven't been to Sandworld yet.
Yes, this year's theme for the annual sand sculpture festival in Weymouth is science fiction and among the gigantic sculptures you can admire this year are homages to Doctor Who, Superman, H. G. Wells' The Time Machine, Thunderbirds, Metropolis and Star Wars.
Each sculpture took somewhere between five days and three weeks to complete and the rules were simple… they should all be made of damp sand, and nothing else. The exhibits have each been created by a different artist and these include people that popped in from all over the world. And while some of the details are less than perfect, you still can't help but admire their size and intricacy, and the fact that, well, they're made entirely out of sand.
Our group's personal favourite was the Alien sculpture, which featured a terrifying looking Alien Queen, complete with slavering fangs and a deadly sharp tail. The level of detail in the work was absolutely amazing. Coming in second was an abstract piece which looked so deceptively solid you could almost swear you'd be able to pick it up and take it home with you.
Of course, picking up the sculptures or touching them in any way is a big no-no. The slightest touch will not only mean you have that awful Five Star song in your head for the rest of the day but could cause the entire sculpture to crumble back into a boring, featureless pile of sand. The sculptures really are extraordinarily fragile.
The ticket cost (£6.50 per adult) initially seemed a bit steep for the size of the exhibition, but the booklet we were given explained that, "We pay each sculptor to work for us. We pay their flights and accommodation and feed them, too." On reflection, I decided that I would rather pay a higher ticket price and know that the people that did the work have been properly compensated for their time and effort, rather than pay a bit less and have them be 'invited' to 'an exciting opportunity to showcase their work and add to their portfolio'. There's enough of that rubbish about already, frankly.
Weymouth's Sandworld is open daily from 10:30 am, running until November 3. Tickets are £6.50 and children £4.50. There are a variety of discounts offered for family tickets, online booking in advance and emotionally immature people called Rusty. The exhibition also has an area where you can try your hand at making your own sculptures (supposedly for kids, but who cares?) and a shop and cafe.