Artist Katie Paterson takes over Scarborough’s South Bay beach with 'mountains of sand'

Katie Paterson – Photograph by Colin Davison. All images courtesy of the artist and Jeannie Swales. Via CB submission

A new artwork by a contemporary Scottish artist recently chosen by writer Margaret Atwood as one of "the women who are shaping our future" makes an appearance at Scarborough’s South Bay beach at the end of this month.

Katie Paterson was one of just a dozen women selected by The Handmaid’s Tale author alongside global figures such as Swedish climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg, Handmaid’s Tale actor Amanda Brugel, novelist Esi Edugyan and Yasmeen Hassan, the executive director of Equality Now. She praised the artist’s recent Future Library project, calling it "so hopeful".

Katie’s artwork First There is a Mountain has been touring the UK’s coast since March and ends on 27 October – the period of British daylight saving time. It involves the creation of buckets and spades in the form of world mountains, from which we – the public – are invited to build mountains of sand.

Do you fancy getting involved? Go along to Scarborough’s South Bay, below the Spa Bridge, from 11am to 1pm on Sunday 29 September where you'll be able to build sandcastles using pails which are scale models of five mountains: Kilimanjaro (Africa), Shasta (USA), Fuji (Asia), Stromboli (Europe), and Uluru (Oceania).

Of course, the artwork certainly points to concepts around gravitational attraction – awareness of Earth’s tilted axis during longer daylight hours and the UK’s eroding coastline.

Katie Paterson says: "From early childhood, we understand that sand marks time. First There is a Mountain builds on this concept, making us aware of mountain rocks’ erosion over millennia, rock shifting over continents’ evolution, forming unique fingerprints of sand across our modern coastline.

"The artwork invites the public to slow down, to consider the interconnectedness of the world, its immensity conveyed in miniature: the extraordinary existing in ordinary things, everywhere."

Paterson selected each mountain range via exacting research and data from NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. The pails are made from 100% fermented plant starch and are fully bio-compostable. At the end of the tour, they will be composted, reabsorbing into the natural environment from which they were created.

Image credit: Katie Paterson

Image credit: Katie Paterson

Image credit: Katie Paterson

Image credit: Katie Paterson

Image credit: Rosie Lonsdale

Image credit: Rosie Lonsdale

Image credit: Rosie Lonsdale

Image credit: Rosie Lonsdale

Image credit: Rosie Lonsdale

Image credit: Rosie Lonsdale

Image credit: Rosie Lonsdale

Image credit: Rosie Lonsdale