Artist to create world’s largest sand portrait from a balloon

Sylvain Tremblay will attempt to create the world’s largest sand portrait depicting the UAE’s iconic founding father from the confines of a hot air balloon.

Come early Monday morning, innovative artist Sylvain Tremblay will attempt to create the world’s largest sand portrait depicting the UAE’s iconic founding father, Shaikh Zayed — all from the confines of a hot air balloon.

Taking the challenge on with open arms, Tremblay told Khaleej Times on Wednesday that nerves were setting in, but compared the feeling to an actor on stage.

“There is a lot of pressure beforehand, but much like actors, when I step out on my art stage, I feel alive and the nerves just fade away.”

Tremblay working on the portrait of Shaikh Zayed.

Tremblay working on the portrait of Shaikh Zayed.

And if the pressure of time, weather and height wasn’t already enough, the decision to create a portrait of one of the UAE’s most prized figures has the butterflies churning too, he said.

“There is a lot of pressure to do a nice portrait because Shaikh Zayed is such a charismatic icon. Throw the weather elements and hot air balloon into the mix and you can imagine the nerves I’m feeling.”

Armed with a 10×10 metre canvas, some glue, and three shades of dark, medium and light sand, Canada-born Tremblay will be working against the clock on Monday as the quick drying glue could mean the difference between failure and success.

“I will first have to trace the portrait with the white glue before jumping into the hot air balloon, ascending mid-air, then dropping the sand down. My time-frame for this will literally be a matter of five or 10 minutes.”

Floating about 20 metres above the golden dunes of the Dubai desert, Tremblay will have to repeat the process three times with each shade of sand, so he is hoping everything goes “all right on the night.”

“Hopping in and out of the balloon will be challenging. I remember I went up the Burj Khalifa once and I didn’t really like it. Height is a bit of a challenge for me. It’s kind of scary.”

A lecturer in Modern Art at the Canadian University in Dubai, Tremblay decided to take on the feat in tribute to the 40th anniversary of the Canadian Embassy in Dubai, which is being celebrated throughout 2014. Using a technique created by Tremblay himself, preparation for the big finale has been pretty smooth sailing so far, although he’s been unable to try his hand at the true size canvas.

“Due to space constraints, I have only been able to practice on smaller canvases, but I have done a few portraits so far, and people have reacted well to them.”

And praying that the sand reacts well with the wind, the brave artist is hoping mother nature will be on his side on the day. “So far the weather has been stable, but the natural elements could always play against us, if not in regards to the sand, it could still affect the team operating the hot air balloon.”

Admitting there has been a instances where he’s asked himself “what am I doing”, Tremblay said he is excited to see what the future brings for him in terms of performance art.

“Before, I just used to paint but I love performing in front of people now.” And he said he has one dream he wants to fulfill involving another Dubai icon.

“I would love to produce some art atop the Burj Al Arab’s helipad platform, so if someone wants to invite me, I am game. Maybe something for the Expo, but for now, I’ll keep my concept under wraps.”

via – Khaleej Times.