Some people bring home mini Eiffel Towers, "I Heart NY" t-shirts or locally woven handicrafts when they return from their travels. Designer Marian Bantjes brings home samples of dirt. After travelling through exotic destinations such as Brazil, South Africa, Thailand and the Philippines, Bantjes has to explain to customs officers why her suitcase contains small jars of soil or sand. This year, she used a small part of the collection to create a mandala-like poster for Alliance Graphique International (AGI).
The painstaking process started with a pencil drawing of the geometric pattern and lettering that says “Coexistence”. She then added the soil and sand, using a variety of methods. She was able to pour some from a spout, while others had to be added in an even layer and then moved with a paintbrush. “The materials vary in size of grains and evenness,” Bantjes told Co.Design. “The smoothest sand from Thailand was the easiest to work with. Other sands were lumpy or sticky with salt.”
“Everyone who has seen this mentions the Tibetan sandpaintings,” Bantjes said on her blog. “I can’t say I had Tibet in mind when I made this. Merely Coexistence.” However, like sand paintings and traditional mandalas, the sand in Bantjes’s striking work was not glued down. After photographing the design, she swept the sand away, destroying the original artwork.
Her intricate designs have been collected in two books: the 2010 volume I Wonder and the 2014 monograph Marian Bantjes: Pretty Pictures.
Images via Marian Bantjes