Hamilton-based artist Nancy Tschetner has a unique technique to create art using over 60 different shades of natural sand and crushed glass.
Usually working on canvas, she has now created her first sculpture as part of WWF's Whale Tale Project 2022, a public art trail in Auckland featuring 80 whale tail sculptures designed by different artists from all over New Zealand.
The love of art has been running in Nancy's family with her uncle and dad also being creative minds. Originally from Germany, she says she has always been into art.
"I was always drawing or working with acrylic paint. [In] New Zealand I discovered the black sand and started sprinkling it onto acrylic paint."
Nancy usually works on three paintings at a time as she needs to wait for layers to dry to prevent the different areas and colours of an artwork from mixing up. She also needs to be careful with the layers of adhesive that make the sand stick to the paint better.
"[They] need to be even. And I need to sprinkle the sand carefully [to] not drop too much ... in one place as that makes an area darker or more intense in colour."
Nancy says some people are worried that the sand will fall off.
"But that won't happen. The sand is glued down and [when finished] the artwork gets varnished or I put clear coat or resin on it. No one has ever asked me to redo something."
She started using the black sand from Taranaki.
"Everyone says that Raglan also has black sand, but if you hold the two next to each other, you see that the Raglan sand is more of a dark grey with brown, while the Taranaki sand is actually black black and more sparkly. Every beach has a different sand shade."
When she came to New Zealand in 2003, Nancy focused on using only sand from New Zealand, but over the years she added sand from international locations, gold leaf and crushed glass to add more vibrant colours that are not available in sand.
"I also offer commission [pieces] and had some people send me sand from a place that was special to them, like from the place they are from or where they got married."
She has been exhibiting her work all over the world, including Germany and Australia. In 2018 she was invited to Dubai to represent New Zealand in the International Women's Art Exhibition for World Women's Day.
Although Nancy says it is difficult for her to name a favourite artwork, the piece Together that she created for the Dubai expo is definitely in her top selection.
"I didn't have an image, I only had words that I designed the piece after. I created a circular artwork with [a character] that is half lioness half young girl. Every piece in this artwork has a different meaning."
For the whale tale exhibition, she is the only Hamilton artist whose design has been selected for a sculpture. It took her about 120 hours over roughly one month to complete her whale tail design.
"It was a unique project [for me], I have never done a 3D sculpture before. It was definitely challenging, but very exciting," Nancy says.
To give Waikato residents a little sneak peek of her whale tail before heading to Auckland, Nancy will host an open weekend at her studio this Saturday and Sunday. Another Waikato artist whose design has been chosen for the Whale Tale project and whose tail will be exhibited at Nancy's open studio is Raglan's Aaron Kereopa.
"Originally, [the exhibition organisers] weren't keen for me to show my whale sculpture before the official opening, but due to the border restrictions, I got them to allow me to do a sneak peek.
"The Waikato doesn't really know sand art and I have been in Hamilton for about four years now, so I thought I would take this opportunity to introduce myself."
For her open weekend, Nancy also organised live music and a coffee cart "to give people more things to check out than [just] the art".
After the whale tail art trail closes, the tails will take centre stage at a charitable auction in May 2022 and be sold to bidders. Proceeds will go to WWF-New Zealand towards their efforts of protecting and restoring Aotearoa's marine environment in and around the Hauraki Gulf.
For more information on the Whale Tale Project click here.
To find out more about Nancy's sand art click here.
What: Open weekend at Nancy Tschetner's studio
When: December 18 and 19, 10am to 5pm. Entry is free.
Where: 22 Tupelo St, Pukete, Hamilton.