For whatever reason, the people of Italy love themselves some Lord Of The Rings. Something in the air guides the nation’s populace toward displays of fandom as extraordinary as living as a hobbit while constructing a new version of the Shire or, in the case of artist Leonardo Ugolini, building intricate versions of Middle-earth architecture from sand.
Throughout the year, Ugolini has been posting YouTube videos of his work. He started off with a model of Bilbo Baggins’ house in the Shire, which looks fantastic but seems a bit less cozy when you imagine how much sand would get into your clothes just trying to relax and enjoy second breakfast.
He then moved on to the Tower Of Mordor, which both looks great and features Ugolini play-acting like he’s wandered into the evil realm and must avoid the gaze of the Eye Of Sauron.
And, lastly, there’s a sandy Mount Doom, which Ugolini ignites by throwing in a ring so that he can film himself destroying the nearby Tower Of Mordor and move a paper bird around while saying, “Thank you eagle, you saved my life.”
Each of these videos is narrated by Ugolini, who explains how to make your own versions of his Middle-earth sand castles. Not everybody watching these clips is a highly skilled architect with Ugolini’s years of training under their belt, but his gentle voiceovers are well worth listening to even if you don’t intend to use his instructions.
Ugolini’s YouTube “About” page explains that the artist grew up making sand castles before becoming a professional architect who’s spent “the past 30 years ... mastering the art of making sand sculptures and organizing sand (sculpture) events around the globe.” With these events canceled during the pandemic, Ugolini began making his work for the internet, which is good because, hey, at least now we’ve seen these things before they’ve been washed away by the rain.
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