Sand sculptor Jonathan Bouchard aka Jobi is trying to make the best of pandemic life. With CBC’s reality competition show Race Against the Tide having wrapped last summer and many travel restrictions still in effect, the Saint Calixte QC native is trying to branch out into other artistic mediums.
I had a chance to sit down with Jobi about his experiences on the show. Being a visual artist, myself, I had so many questions about sand sculpting and what it’s like to be on TV.
One thing I was dying to know was how he got into sand sculpting because after all, Quebec isn’t known for its beaches. Jobi explained that he was originally doing snow carving but got into sand sculpture because it generally allows him to work in nicer weather with fewer tools.
“Carving sand is really delicate. You have to really be smooth and I like these feeling of scratching the surface and making details. To me it’s like meditation.”
Jobi’s has been on the Sand Sculpting circuit for fifteen years, and while he mostly enjoys it, the travel restrictions have made him consider other, more permanent mediums. He told me that he recently completed an outdoor concrete sculpture in a neighboring town. He is trying to do less and less sand sculpture now but would still like to do a couple of competitions every year.
All artists have a preferred subject they enjoy featuring in their work, such as trees, portraits, and so on. Jobi especially enjoys sculpting animals with robotic elements.
“I like bio mechanic stuff… I like to do a lot of small details.”
As a fellow Quebecois, I felt obligated to ask him about whether he experienced any difficulties with language and culture while working on the show in the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. His fellow sculptor, New Jersey native Dan Belcher, seemed like an unlikely partner for the young Quebecois.
“I get more and more comfortable with English, but especially at the beginning when I started to travel to do sand carving, it was a big challenge. I’m a different person in English than I am in French, I’m less natural, so for me it’s a little bit difficult.”
With regards to Dan Belcher, Jobi sheepishly admits he initially tried to get a fellow Quebecois sand sculptor to be his partner in the competition, but when that didn’t work out he reached out to Belcher, whom he knows from the sand carving competition circuit.
“I know he knows what he’s doing. I can trust him as a good sand carver. He’s a nice guy and a nice carver. For me that was enough to make him a good partner. Of course the language made it difficult for me to have discussions all the time. My English is ok but still it was difficult.”
This was not the first time Bouchard has been on TV, having done some small interviews and children’s shows in the past. This was, however, the biggest show he’s ever done.
“It was really intense. The concept was already something really intense to manage the tide and all the production (crew) always on our back always asking, doing some little interview, especially with the timing. But still it was a very interesting experience,”
As to whether the pandemic affected the production of the show, Jobi said there wasn’t much. They were required to quarantine at first, and take their temperature every morning, but that’s about it. Now that the show has wrapped, he’s trying to make the best of things.
Race Against the Tide premiers Thursday, September 9 at 9pm Eastern on CBC
You can see more of Jobi’s work on his Facebook page
Featured Image of host Shaun Majumder looking at Jobi work via CBC