Childhood and School Years
My name is Uldis Zarins. I was born in 1976 in Riga, Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic. I was the only child in an artists family. From childhood I realized that I was completely different from other children. At school, I sat on the last bench and drew everything I saw around me, partly encouraged by the teacher.
During primary school years I could not adapt to Soviet school order and to this day cannot understand their educational system and what they wanted to make from me. As a child I never had a clear idea of what I wanted to do, but soon understood that work, education and learning would be fundamental elements of my life. Working only for money or just because I had to, made me bored. There is good saying about it:''Find a job that you like and you will never work a day!''
By the age of 17 I had already become qualified as a carpenter, working in a factory, construction, and even as a paper boy to support this. I then decided that I must study, but what? I wrote on paper all of the professions that I would like to do, striking out what appeared unattainable or unenjoyable. The thing that remined was Art.
At first I was uncomfortable with this as it is commonly thought that the rhealm of art is very difficult profession to be successful in. However, there was a growing environment of artists that were becoming successful, and not all of them good. I made the decision to take the risk and try.
First Art Studies
In those early days I needed a grounding in art eduacation. I applied to the Riga Applied Art College for a five year course and specialised in sculpture. This ancient and prestigious school concentrated on classical artistic traditions, with a strong teaching method. I also attended evening classes to learn to draw and paint.
At 19 years of age I was surrounded by younger collegues who did not know what they wanted to do. Half of the course was comprised of art history and theory, the other half classical art education with a focus on pre 20th Centuary sculpture.
During this period I met a sculptor known as Janis Barda and he opened my eyes! It was like in the movie ‘The Blues Brothers’: When James Brown screamed in church
‘‘Do you see the light?!’’ and after while Jack Blues replied
‘‘I can see the light, I can see the light!’’ Janis enlightened me to what can be done in sculpture.
I then spent a summer working in the studio of Janis Barda.
After summer when I came back to school, making replicas of classical sculptures suddenly became so easy, my mind no longer struggled with plastic problems. I was suprised by everything I made as I was greeted by sculptures that somehow exceeded my own expectations.
The Academy and New Life
I then studied in the Latvian Academy of Art and Sculpture. These next 6 years were a period of developing my professional knowlege and spiritual maturity. My understanding of human anatomy and it’s plastic values increased, complimented by clay work in the studio that took weeks and even months to make.
However, around the third year my motivation to take on challenging projects lessened as I began to doubt my future in the art world. I questioned whether I would be able to find enough creative projects to sustain a career after the Academy.
In 2004 I suddenly discovered Sand Sculpture through Sandis Kondrats. I had seen these miricles on television featuring sand artists such as Sudarsan but the artform seemed beyond my reach. However, Sandis had proved it possible as he returned from the Bornholm Sand Sculpture Festival in Denmark
''Yes!” I thought. ''This is what I need! To make a Large-scale sculptures soon”
There was no need for a workshop, I just needed some equipment and the time that it takes to make a piece. Then the very next summer I met Kimmo Frosti, who gave me my first opportunity to try sand sculpture. There was not a large difference in sculptural craft between traditional sculpture and this new medium. Quite soon, I began to work professionally in sand. Ice sculpture soon followed, in this I had already some experience with competitions in Latvia and Finland.
Since then Kimmo www.frostiart.com , Sandis and myself have formed our own sand and ice sculpture company, supplying the baltic region. I am also involved in the Baltic Sand Sculpture Association which organises the annual ‘Jurmala Sand Magic Festival’ (www.magicsand.lv) and other sand sculpture events throughout Latvia.
I’ve realized that in this short time I have in ice and sand created so many monumental sculptures that would have taken a sculptor in conventional materials a lifetime. I am pleased to be able to make a living creatively and to have the opportunity to develop myself, welcoming projects in human figure, architecture and abstract. I would like to see sand and ice sculpture become an integral part of art culture in Latvia. It is entertaining, and offers the oppertunity to discuss serious and complex topics. I have so much to do now!
I am happy to find myself an artist!
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