Collecting seashells and pebbles on the beach is a popular pastime for many people, but for New York-based artist Anna Chan, it’s become “a bit of an obsession.” Chan is a jewellery designer, but her work slowed down during the COVID-19 lockdown like many others.
She and her 10-year-old daughter spent days at the beach, where they began collecting seashells and creating animal-inspired sculptures.
Chan shared: “Having worked on a small scale almost all my life, being able to use all of my hands to sculpt large pieces was really liberating, especially during such trying times. “I saw great potential with this new medium and was determined to keep perfecting my work, so I moved some sand and seashells to my garage, and that’s where I work today.”
Chan’s first sand and shell sculpture was a turtle, and now her portfolio is full of land and marine animals. She created a bird out of scallops, mussels, clams, and a horseshoe crab tail for one piece. In another work, a lion’s mane is sculpted from largely broken seashells.
Chan carefully chooses shells that match the real-life characteristics of the animal she’s creating. “For me, seashells are like little gems. Each one is a piece of the puzzle finding its place in the big picture,” she reveals. “I’m inspired by their colours, texture and shapes and even the broken pieces. I find beauty in it.”
What began as a must-do during the lockdown has become the main focus of Chan’s artistic pursuits. “My sculptures are inspired by the materials that I use. I’ve worked with clay, wax, metal, fabric, etc. in the past, but nothing is as intuitive as sand,” says the artist. “It’s the material with which I feel most connected, and my hands only know what to do when I’m creating with it.”
Check out Chan’s seashell artwork below and find more of her animal portraits on Instagram.
New York-based artist Anna Chan has sculpted exquisite animal portraits from found seashells.
She first started making them with her daughter during last year’s lockdown…
Chan carefully chooses shells that match the real-life colours and textures of the animal she’s creating.