10 May 2013
Yesterday evening I gave a Sand House talk as part of the first ‘Turn the Page for the Doncaster Literary Festival‘. It was not the usual talk, as this time it focused on how I became interested in the subject and how the two books came about. The unusual venue was a packed Cask Corner Bar in Doncaster, partly so that the audience members could be offered a drink of Doncaster Brewery’s Sand House Blonde Ale.
The event seemed to be well received; I certainly enjoyed giving the talk.
3 May 2013
Yesterday I visited the Williamson Tunnels Heritage Centre in Liverpool, along with Colin Joy and Richard Young from Doncaster Council’s Tourism team. The purpose was to gain an insight into setting up and running a visitor attraction relating to something with clear similarities to the Sand House. I’d like to thank Dave Bridson and Sian Roberts for their hospitality and their advice, which will doubtless help in the proposed project for a Sand House attraction in Doncaster.
28 April 2013
Stephan Richeux has been in contact. A former journalist with Doncaster Free Press and Doncaster Star, he now lives and works in Nottingham. But the key piece of information is that Stephan has written a self-published book entitled “The Sandhouse”. It is a sci-fi novel, using the real Sand House as a key location in the story. I have yet to read it, but if you’d like to find out more information you can do so by clicking this link.
18 April 2013
The ladies of Finningley Women’s Institute were very attentive at last night’s Sand House talk. I thank them for their generous donation to the Stroke Association.
16 April 2013
Preliminary plans are in hand to try to establish a permanent visitor attraction in Doncaster dedicated to the Sand House. It is intended to incorporate a replica of ‘The Cloisters’ tunnel, with its remarkable carvings, as part of an exhibition about the Sand House. There will also be a permanent sand sculpture workshop, where people young and old can learn how to create art works of their own from sand. A potential venue for the visitor attraction has been viewed and work is in hand to generate interest from organisations who can support such a project.
12 February 2013
Two recent illustrated talks about the Sand House have been well-received. The Selby Antiques Society provided an attentive audience of almost 50 people last Thursday evening and yesterday afternoon it was return visit to Doncaster Central Library. The latter talk was part of the Doncaster Local Heritage Festival, which runs until Friday 22 February.
15 December 2012
Today Jamie Wardley, the sculptor responsible for the Elephant and Mahout carving at ‘The Elephant in the Room’ exhibition, showcased his ice carving skills. His ice trail at Bradford’s City Park told the story of a Little White Fox searching for Santa. The Little White Fox has to take a letter from Mrs Claus to Santa and along the way he meets many animals, as you’ll see below.
1 December 2012
A date, time and venue have been set for a Sand House illustrated talk during the Local Heritage Festival in February 2013. Please see the Events page for details.
24 November 2012
Many of the illustrated talks about the Sand House that Richard Bell presents are for private groups. However, there will be at least two opportunities in 2013 for anyone who wishes to attend one of the talks to do so. On the afternoon of Monday 11 February there will be a Sand House talk at Doncaster Central Library, as part of the Local Heritage Festival. On Thursday 9 May there will be an evening talk at Cask Corner, on Cleveland Street, Doncaster. That particular talk is part of ‘Turn the Page – for the Doncaster Literary Festival’. Please see the Events page for further details.
2 November 2012
Henry Senior, creator of the Sand House, was one of Doncaster’s notable people featured in a Halloween Walk around Hyde Park Cemetery, Doncaster. Seven characters from Doncaster’s past were portrayed by local actors, telling their stories to the large crowd of visitors. It’s estimated that about 200 people attended. You may like to find out more my visiting the website of the Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery.
15 October 2012
Gave my Sand House illustrated talk to the ‘Tuesday Group’ at Finningley today. They had kindly moved their meeting to Monday this time to accommodate my availability. They were both attentive and generous with their donations to The Stroke Association. If you are a member of a group in the Doncaster area and would like to hear the talk, please Contact us.
2 September 2012
Very best wishes to Ian and Alison Blaylock on the launch of their new Doncaster Brewery. Here’s to the success of the venture and thank you for recognising the Sand House in naming their blonde ale. Cheers!
29 August 2012
26 August 2012
Two important additions have been made to this website.
Firstly, a short video has been added to The Elephant in the Room page, showing the sand sculptures being dismantled.
Secondly, a Gallery of Exhibition page has been created (as a sub-page of The Elephant in the Room). This gallery displays photographs taken during the exhibition. If you wish to obtain a high resolution digital copy of any of the photographs details of how to do so are included on the sub-page.
25 August 2012
Further to the News item on 26 July, Doncaster Brewery, the new real ale micro-brewery that is about to open in Doncaster, will be including Sand House Blonde in their range of beers. We wish Ian and Alison Blaylock great success in their new venture. We also look forward to tasting the Sand House Blonde ale!
26 July 2012
Exciting news about a proposed link to the Sand House that will help to keep the subject alive and, indeed, bring it to a new audience! Keep watching for details.
19 July 2012
Most of the volunteers who carried out room steward duties at The Point for ‘The Elephant in the Room’ met up last evening for a meal to celebrate the success of the project. It was a very enjoyable gathering, spent at the Bar & Bistro, East Laith Gate, Doncaster.
10 July 2012
Richard Bell presents illustrated talks about the Sand House, in the Doncaster area. There are usually a few each year but, as it happened, two had been booked for yesterday. 39 members of the Doncaster Retired Teachers’ Association attended an afternoon event and 13 members of the recently formed Kirk Sandall Women’s Institute came along to their evening meeting. Both groups were very attentive and also generous in their donations to The Stroke Association, Richard’s supported charity. If you are looking for a speaker in the Doncaster area, please Contact us.
5 July 2012
We can now reveal that the total number of visitors to ‘Sand House – The Elephant in the Room’ exhibition, from 23 April to 29 June 2012 was 4459. There were 49 days on which the exhibition was open during this period, totalling 390 hours. The number of visitors averages out at one person every 5 minutes.
4 July 2012
Just over one week ago the area around The Point thronged with people who had gathered to see the Olympic Torch Relay pass by. Many of them were encouraged to go inside The Point to see ‘The Elephant in the Room‘ exhibition. As a result, during the 3-hour period between 10am and 1pm, an amazing 317 visitors entered the Gallery, nearly 10 times more than the average for such a period.
1 July 2012
Although we always knew that the ‘Elephant and Mahout’ was a temporary sculpture, it was still a bitter-sweet experience to demolish it today. It had become an old friend and seemed to have been there for more than the two months that it actually stood. The sand is to be recycled, so will not go to waste.
30 June 2012
After closing the exhibition doors for the final time yesterday, the process of taking down the exhibits began today. All the small sculptures have now been ‘recycled’ back into the bags of sand. The ‘Elephant and Mahout’ will go a similar way tomorrow, so the opportunity to be photographed on the elephant’s back was too good to miss.
23 June 2012
It’s interesting to note how the ‘Elephant and Mahout’ is gradually going back to nature. Over the course of the past few days spots of green lichen have begun to appear on the left-hand side of the sand sculpture, where it faces the windows. The sculpture is beginning to seem quite aged.
20 June 2012
Watch the Olympic Torch Relay pass right in front of The Point next Tuesday 26 June, at just after 11am. Then why not go inside and have a look (or another look) at ‘Sand House – The Elephant in the Room.’ The photograph below was taken at a sneak preview of the torch in York yesterday.
6 June 2012
Tickets are going well for tomorrow evening’s illustrated talk on ‘The Sand House – A Victorian Marvel’, but there are still places left. Visit the Events page for details. The Cafe at The Point will be open both before and after the talk (which will run from 7pm to about 8pm).
2 June 2012
Some really interesting information came forward at the Oral History Day on Thursday. We had a great chat with a lady who clearly remembered visiting the Sand House c.1936 and who also happened to be the last landlady of the nearby Alma Inn. Then there was the gent who had a set of photographs taken on the day that the final infilling of the tunnels began, in 1984. Fascinating stuff!
30 May 2012
There is now a trail of ‘Elephant in the Room’ logos through Doncaster town centre to The Point! With kind permission from Roy Dean, Town Centre Manager, Sprayaway Surface Restoration Specialists have early this morning jet-washed about one hundred (or more) elephants on to the footways! You will find them in St Sepulchre Gate, French Gate and Baxter Gate, then right up High Street and Hall Gate to The Point on South Parade. It’s a great way to publicise the exhibition, without any long-term consequences. The logos will degrade naturally as the surface becomes dirty, but they should remain until the exhibition closes on 29 June.
26 May 2012
Today was the final day of stonecarving demonstrations at Doncaster Minster. Andrew Bramley and John Swift of the West Riding Stonecarving Association showed interested visitors some of their fine skills and allowed those who were interested to have a go for themselves. The photographs show (left) Andrew working on a reproduction of a design from a headstone and (right) showing two interested onlookers how it’s done!
25 May 2012
The new Civic Mayor of Doncaster, Councillor Christine Mills, will be visiting ‘The Elephant in the Room’ at The Point on Wednesday 30 May. We had a visit from her predecessor, Councillor Eva Hughes, earlier this month, so are delighted to host our second mayoral visit in barely 3 weeks.
20 May 2012
For those who missed the live broadcast by BBC Look North on the evening of 1 May, you can view it by clicking on this link.
19 May 2012
14 May 2012
Last Saturday saw our 1000th visitor to ‘Sand House – The Elephant in the Room’ Exhibition, outstripping our estimates for visitor numbers. Some great comments being made in the Visitors’ Book, too. And don’t forget that the stone-carving demonstrations take place at Doncaster Minster next week (Thursday 24, Friday 25 and Saturday 26).
10 May 2012
Today was the first of two days of sand sculpture workshops for schools. The children loved them and so did the teachers! Don’t miss out. Book your tickets for the Family Workshops on Saturday 12 May and you too can have just as much fun, learning from the people who brought you the Elephant and Mahout. Tickets available from the Tourist Information Centre, 38-40 High Street, Doncaster, DN1 1DE.
5 May 2012
Over the first three days of the ‘Elephant in the Room’ Exhibition we had over 400 visitors! Judging by the comments in the Visitors’ Book it seems to have been very well received. If you haven’t yet visited, please come along and see the Exhibition for yourself. If you’ve already been, please come back after the full documentary film is available, in a few days’ time, and tell your friends and family to come too!
3 May 2012
Initial visitor figures for the exhibition are very encouraging indeed. The ladies at the Café at The Point had to work even harder than usual yesterday! Lots of positive comments being made and many memories being prompted. For those with youngsters, have you thought about taking part in the Family Workshops on Saturday 12th May?
2 May 2012
The Elephant in the Room exhibition was officially opened by the Earl of Scarbrough yesterday evening, in front of invited guests. The exhibition was very well received, with some very positive comments being made. We were also delighted to host Tom Ingall, of the BBC, who broadcast live interviews from The Point into both the lunchtime and evening editions of Look North. Great publicity!
28 April 2012
The five small sand sculpture exhibits that are inspired by the Sand House have been started by the training course students. The results are going to be entertaining and thought-provoking. In the meantime, the Elephant and Mahout is nearing completion.
27 April 2012
The trainees on the Sand Sculpture Course have begun thinking about their exhibition pieces. There have been some very interesting ideas discussed this afternoon. The bottom section of formwork has been removed from the Elephant and Mahout.
26 April 2012
A faithful re-creation of the 100-year-old photograph of the Elephant and Mahout means that the damage to the carving that had already occurred by that date is reproduced in Jamie Wardley’s version.
25 April 2012
More progress with the ‘Elephant and Mahout’ today and the training course for artists wanting to learn sand sculpture skills started, too!
24 April 2012
Removing another level of formwork
23 April 2012
Front view of intial carving, before detailing
22 April 2012
21 April 2012
Topping off the structure
Filling the formwork
20 April 2012
Base sand and lower formwork in place
19 April 2012
45 tonnes of sand arriving