Written and Photographed by: Megan Pasche

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You can see them towering high into the air as you enter the room, and the closer you get, the more detail you see, and the harder it is to believe that these creations are made out of sand. 6, 622, 517 pounds of it to be precise.

The Sand and History exhibit opened its doors to the public in August, and it truly is an impressive feat. The exhibit showcases the work of 17 world-renowned professional sculptors from all throughout Europe, Canada and the United States, who have carved 25 pieces, all with the unifying theme of The War of 1812.

The exhibit won’t only indulge your art loving side, but feed your inner history buff as well. Plaques accompany all the sculptures, detailing the history behind each of them. The sculptures delve into the history of the War of 1812 portraying such figures as Laura Secord, Tecumseh, Sir Isaac Brock, and events such as the signing of the Treaty of Ghent.

The sand used to make these sculptures was gathered from the Niagara area, sorted to get rid of any rocks or debris, and delivered to the Niagara Falls Memorial Arena, a building purchased in 2012 by a company called V2Niagara Inc.

It was a bit of a process getting the arena up to snuff for the exhibit, and significant investment (to the tune of several million dollars) was made by V2 Niagara. The arena received a complete facelift from the days when it was used as the home base for OHL teams. The walls and floors had to be replaced, the ceiling had to be repaired, and the outside of the building needed a bit of brightening up.

Now, the sculptures fill the room, with a historical banner serving as a backdrop all the way around the arena. A video presentation plays on a loop at the far end of the exhibit, and gives a nice behind the scenes look at the creation of these sculptures, as well as short interviews with all the different artists.

In order to create the sculptures, sand is patted down repeatedly until it is packed tight and piled high. The intricate details are then carved in. To finish it all off and make sure everything stays in place, a fine mist made of water and glue is sprayed over the statues surface.

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This is an exhibit that is worth the price of admission. The amount of artistry involved in making these sculptures is quite impressive. When somebody can take a giant mountain of sand and turn it into a sculpture of a person that conveys emotion through its facial features, that’s an impressive feat. As you stand there staring at the sculptors work, it is hard not to marvel at the details in their creations. There is no form underneath the giant sculptures, some of which stretch 22 feet into the air; it is all sand through and through. Each sculpture took approximately two to three weeks to create, with the entire exhibit being created in about five months. Artists worked from a simple sketch and were able to bring the drawings to life through an art form that is notoriously finicky. Anybody who has ever tried to make the perfect sand castle on a beach can attest to that; and these sculptures, well, they will put most sand castles to shame. This exhibit is most definitely worth checking out, and is a wonderful addition to the wide array of things to do and see in the city of Niagara Falls.

The exhibit is in the perfect location: just a short jaunt up Clifton Hill and onto Centre Street, and you’ll find yourself at the Niagara Falls Memorial Arena (at 5145 Centre Street). The exhibit is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 6pm.

Admission prices:
General Admission: $16
Seniors: $13
Students: $13
Children (9 to 15): $11
Kids under 8: Free

You can find more information at http://www.v2niagara.com/