Northern Ireland

World wonder Giant's Causeway modelled in sand

Paul Hoggard shapes his sand sculpture of the Giant's Causeway in Belfast
Image caption Paul Hoggard shapes his sand sculpture of the Giant's Causeway in Belfast

A giant task to re-create one of the world's most famous landscapes using a bucket and spade has started in Belfast.

The 18-tonne sand sculpture of the Giant's Causeway is being built not on a beach, but in the middle of a busy shopping centre.

Yorkshire-born artist Paul Hoggard has started shaping the first distinctive hexagonal stones in the city's Victoria Centre after spending hours shovelling in his raw materials.

"It nearly broke my back," he said.

"Eight hours of shovelling, you need to have the fitness of an athlete. But now I'm getting on with the sculpture and can be a little bit more artistic; now I need the skills of a surgeon."

Working alongside his wife Remy and a student helper, Hoggard intends to have the huge temporary artwork finished by the end of the week.

The sand sculpture was commissioned in conjunction with the National Trust. They hope the model will inspire locals and tourists alike to go and visit the real thing on Antrim's north coast this summer.

Mr Hoggard, who now lives on a farm in Bulgaria, has been sculpting full time since first trying his hand at the art form in India 20 years ago.

He has more than 1,000 works to his name, in locations all over the world. But like any sand castle, they do not stand for long.

"That doesn't bother me," he said.

"I am totally dedicated to the process of making it, that's what I love, not the end result. And anyway I always make sure to take a picture when I'm done.

"I'm 45 now but I'm still the biggest kid on the beach."