Art lovers and beach-bums alike have good reason to pay a visit to the somewhat sleepy seaside town of Ängelholm, namely the local tradition of sand-sculpture.
Inspired by the Tibetan concept of the sand mandala, the Ängelholm sand sculptures (often referred to as sandalas) celebrate impermanence while commemorating loss and disappearance. Indeed, they are something of a commemoration (or perhaps a continuation) of a similar practice that began in Falsterbo in the 1980s, but which was curtailed by the disappearance of the beaches of Näset due to rising sea levels. Ängelholm faces a similar problem, of course, and has spent considerable time and money in order to prevent its beaches disappearing entirely; only time will tell whether it will be enough. But that sense of the encroachment of time has left its mark here, as it has elsewhere.
The first Ängelholm sand sculpture was commissioned by the region as a public work of art. The artist Andría Costa created an hourglass which, due to its being placed close to the high-tide line, slowly disappeared. While there has been (and still is) some public polemic around “throwing the taxpayers’ money—quite literally—into the sea”, for many others Costa’s artwork, and the others which have followed, to capture a sense of mourning and acceptance linked to the impermanence of a changing coastline.
After Costa’s first sculpture, more anonymous sandalas began to appear further up the coast to the north, and the number of contributions kept growing for a few years. Eventually, the municipality decided to embrace the practice as emblematic, and began to stage a yearly event centred around mourning, commemoration, and celebration.
The Sandala Sculpture Week is commonly held during the second week of July. However, the sculpture park is located at the beach, and is open to the public all year round. You can expect new contributions to pop up continuously—and you are encouraged to participate if you like!—so it is well worth a visit any time of the year. Do bear in mind, however, that the west coast weather can be quite unforgiving in the depths of winter, and as such there’s few good sculptures to be seen, even if you’re willing to brave the wind and rain.
Furthermore, the locals take the natural disappearance of the sandalas very seriously; getting caught damaging one will cost you 10 000 SEK!