18th Aug 2020

Blackpill Beach, Swansea


18th Awst 2020

Bae Blackpill, Abertawe








Project Photographer/
Ffotograffydd Prosiect: Phil Holden

Our 16th annual Beach Sculpture Festival journeyed towards Swansea for the finale day at Blackpill Beach. Black Pill Rock Beach forms part of the vast expanse of sand and mudflats that make up Swansea Bay. The River Clyne enters the sea along this stretch of the bay, which is approximately midway between Mumbles Pier and Swansea Marina.This bay beach is a great place to find driftwood, exquisite shells of different sizes, shapes and colours plus other materials that can be used to make interesting and beautiful sculptures. Blackpill beach is a designated site of special scientific interest (SSSI) due to the rare birds that overwinter here. In particular, the Ringed Plover and the Sanderling, wader birds that work the tide to catch their favourite food. The birds are always inspiration for the sculptures that are created at Blackpill and the festival actively promotes the birds in the bay. Using different coloured selections of shells, participants created some really diverse pieces of work. They were enthused about their own work and also about what others had made around them.

A beautiful Ringed Plover sculpture is made. The plumage was an absorbing activity for lots of people to engage in using the many different shells on this beach. Most of the art works highlighted the bird life in the bay which acted as a reminder of their existence to passers-by. Many participants didn't realise it was a SSSI for overwintering birds so we showed them images of the birds and they enjoyed bringing them to life through collecting and making the sculptures. They enjoyed identifying shells too, such as oyster, cockle, welk, mussel, Slipper Limpet, etc. which are the food of the birds here.

Making the wings of a bird

All ages enjoyed working collaboratively alongside artists and members of their groups. They were noticeably impressed by their designs and that of others and expressed how doing the sculptures had opened their eyes to the variety of shoreline resources to make sculptures with as well as noticing the sea birds present on the far shore.

These youngsters were extremely happy with their lobster with the big pincers!

It was a very positive, jovial day with a lot of great conversations and laughs.

A beautiful Ringed Plover bird is created at Blackpill by these two happy children. They used different coloured and shaped shells to create a beautiful mosaic artwork. Perserverence in collecting and placing the shells and attention to detail was the key to creating something so exquisite. The common ringed plover or ringed plover is a small plover that has been recorded regularly at Blackpill helping to give the beach its SSSI status. The genus name Charadrius is a Late Latin word for a yellowish bird mentioned in the fourth-century Vulgate. It derives from Ancient Greek kharadrios- a bird found in ravines and river valleys. The common ringed plover's breeding habitat is open ground on beaches and they nest on the ground in an open area with little or no plant growth. They have a grey-brown back and wings, a white belly, and a white breast with one black neckband. They have a brown cap, a white forehead, a black mask around the eyes and a short orange and black bill. The legs are orange and only the outer two toes are slightly webbed.

A large scale heart in the middle of the sandy bay radiates love out to the birds.

Positive, Lovely, fun, engaging, Happiness!


A young girl works on a large scale site specific sculpture of a starfish

The Festival is an amazing experience each time we take part!


Carefully placing shells on the tail of a Swift. The swifts are a family,{Apodidae} of highly aerial birds. Swifts are similar to swallows andare placed in the order Apodiformes along with hummingbirds.

We came to the Festival again and they loved it as much as ever!


This wove macrame sculpture provided hours of fun for the children making it at the festival as they gathered 'holey' oyster shells to weave into the sea dreaming.

Fabulous outdoor activity!

A large scale Common Starfish (Asterias rubens) sculpture is created on Blackpill Beach at the festival. Cockle and Oyster shells were used to create the texture and markings of the starfish, which are abundant on Welsh beaches. Being gregarious they are likely to come ashore in their groups and their favourite food is mussels which is a bivalve. It attaches itself to rock face by means of a byssus thread and it lives in large colonies. Mussel shells are not as abundant here as oyster, cockle, welk, mussel, Slipper Limpet shells but you still find them occasionally and they are always much sought after at the beach sculpture festival each year to provide a beautiful blue suitable for eyes!

Lovely event!

Making a beautiful bird sculpture using driftwood and shells was very much enjoyed by these youngsters. They learnt about the different shells on the beach as the explored and gathered them in buckets.

For the Love of Birds



An engaging activity for everyone and a great opportunity to learn new skills and techniques for making beach sculptures.

The festival was an outdoor imaginative achievement!

A warm, summer's day brought lots of people to the beach where they were happy to find something so creative going on.

The Shell

And then I pressed the shell

Close to my ear,

And listened well.

James Stephens 1882-1950

Listening to the sound of the sea in a shell is something everyone should do, whether young or old!

The festival brought opportunities to share ideas, collect and place resources enabling participants to feel part of a community. Attention to detail was paramount.

Making a macrame reminiscent of the sea and waves from driftwood, oyster shells and brown natural twine was the perfect activity for Ffion.

The temporary sculptures were admired and prompted conversations about environmental art and it's ephemeral nature.

Education for local environment - wellbeing!



Positive, Lovely, fun, engaging, Happiness! Williams Family

Amazing experience each time we take part! Catrin Doyle and family

Team work and process. Making a connection between what you see and feel and what you can't see. Mathias Family

Gave us ideas to make other things. The festival was an outdoor imaginative achievement! Ian, Sophie, Jackson and Logan.

Lovely event! Coney Family

We made a cormorant and it was a great process for confidence. We enjoyed using natural materials and I think environmental art events like this get people to come to the beach, bringing them together and learn new skills. Lilly, Cory and Cath.

We remembered doing this 7 years ago and the children had enjoyed it so we came again and they loved it as much as ever! Chapple family

Fabulous outdoor activity! Louise and Ffion Linton

Fun, fun, fun! Rees Family

This year's School Workshops run as part of the festival are featured below:-


Our participants' creativity and well-being was enhanced through the festival workshops. Everyone was still involved using taught technique processes and developing ideas even when the event finished.

Thank you to everyone for making our annual sculpture festival such a success once again.

Look forward to seeing you again next year!


Diolch i bawb am wneud ein gwyl cerflunwaith flynyddol mor llwyddiant unwaith eto.






Each year, as part of the festival, a series of workshops are run also for local schools to teach them techniques and skills for creating beach or nature sculptures. Due to the Covid Pandemic this year, these workshops were run after the festival instead of before. Pupils from Mayals Primary enjoyed an artist led day workshop at Blackpill Beach where they created sculptures of the local rare wader birds found here. Whitestone, St. Davids, Newton and Oystermouth Primary Schools all enjoyed their workshops in their school grounds, creating sculptures and artworks from nature, such as natural paint brushes, mini environmental sketchbooks, garden sculptures, moth puppets, etc. See below feature on the day with Mayals Primary and some of the other schools' artworks. Thanks to Mumbles Community Council for sponsoring these school workshops.


The children had great fun creating sculptural mosaics based on the rare wader birds at Blackpill, using shells and found objects to create the features of the different birds.They enjoyed the teamwork and being creative in the fresh air. Lots of them said it was their "best school trip ever"!

Bespoke term time Environmental Art workshops are available for schools and groups - please contact us at for details and rates.



Nature Conservation Team








All Photos by Phil Holden. Copyright Art and Education by the Sea 2020 (Sculpture by the Sea UK)

Also see the five waymarking sculptures on the Gower coast path between Mumbles and Rhossili - see Sculpture on the Coast trail - click here
Dilynwch y Llwybr Cerflun ar y Arfordir - cliciwch yma

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