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On Saturday afternoon, sand sculptor Zara Gaze came upon a pile of sand at a construction site in her rapidly gentrifying south London neighborhood of Brockley. Where most saw yet another overpriced high-rise in progress, Gaze saw a blank canvas. Later that night, she returned to the site with a spade and transformed the 40-ton sand pile into a piece of anti-gentrification protest art: A sculpture of a fat cat chewing on a piece of broccoli (get it? Brockley?).

At 3:30am, a security guard showed up at the site and questioned Gaze about her renegade creation. She said she’d merely rearranged the sand that was already there. Before they destroyed her masterpiece, they let her photograph it.

“The place used to be an old garage and somebody had daubed graffiti — ‘enjoy your quinoa,’” Gaze told the Guardian of the construction site. “I think it’s going to become flats that cost a ridiculous amount of money. I was on my way to a friend’s house and thought it too good an opportunity to miss.”

Sand sculpture is usually the purview of beachgoers, not urban protesters, but Gaze, who runs the sand art initiative Sandalism, aims to politicize the medium. She often works in the dark of night, sneak-attacking construction sites and turning them into everything from giant sand brains to pumpkin patches, but making overt protest art is new for her. “I feel like getting more political. People are pretty miserable at the moment, they are really pissed off at the government, so this is a call to other artists. People are not shouting enough,” said Gaze. “It’s very difficult to live in London and many people I know are making noises about moving out of London.”

h/t The Guardian 

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering arts and culture. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Baffler, The Village Voice, and elsewhere.

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