I am standing on the edge of a 200-foot high sandy cliff of Fort Funston looking down on San Francisco’s southwest coast at low tide. Above me the clear skies, a hang glider and seagulls. Beside me my camera, securely mounted for a time-lapse. Down below Andres with a rake that seem as free as the numerous dogs running into the shore break – happy to know they can take leashes off here.
“Have you worked on this beach many times before?” I asked earlier when standing next to the tall, peaceful man on the beach, setting the parameters of the frame, holding on to my hat.
“Most of my work so far is in Northern California. I have been to the Channel Islands to work as well. Today is the first time for Fort Funston.”
Now, looking down, watching Andres’s rake etch designs onto the beach during the low tide and exposing the wetter sand, causing a color difference, I cannot help but feel a strange sense of sadness: As far as the design of nearly 100m x 60m grows and grows, the sun falls lower towards the horizon and the tide moves closer.
As my camera captures this world famous artist at work I realise again that everything, all of us, without exception, are transient, or in a constant state of flux.
“Does it leave you sad to know that your hours of work get taken by the sea?” I see the waves rolling over the shapes, leaving a clean canvas for tomorrow.
“Not really. Nothing is permanent. The joy lies in the creation of it.” He smiles at me and in his smile lies a joy and peace far greater than an artist whose work you to hang on your wall for generations to come. There lies a knowing in his eyes that life, like his art, is impermanent in nature and created to only be enjoyed temporarily.
I pack my gear and in darkness, the artwork now almost completely ingested by the sea. I follow Andres and the rest of the crew up the cliffs to the parking lot and as I hold on to my pictures of the day’s work I feel the moment. The blue darkness around us. The fresh smell of the beach. The now. And I give thanks. Knowing that the joy of it all lies in living it.
Let us live it. This life. Now.
Words and Pictures: Daréll Lourens