Visitors to Vancouver’s Kitsilano beach Saturday likely saw artist David Billings working on another of his sand sculptures, but may have been a bit taken aback by the image he crafted – a mother cradling her dead child.
The guerrilla stunt by Taxi Vancouver was to bring attention to National Drowning Prevention Week (July 16-23). A sign next to the sculpture said “the beach isn’t all fun and games. Educate yourself on water safety.”
Dale Miller, branch executive director of the Lifesaving Society of BC, said it’s important to hit people hard with a water safety message.
“It’s hard to measure whether [this sculpture] will change behavior, but it certainly will make people stop and think,” Miller said. “And if even just that has them paying more attention to safety around the water, then it’s been successful.”
The sand sculpture follows last year’s campaign where Taxi placed kickboards on the beach to look like gravestones. The serious tone seems to be making an impact. Miller said that a recently released national report showed drowning deaths were down by 12% in B.C. over a five year period, whereas Ontario and Alberta had both seen an increase.
The total cost for the project was $2,500, said Miller. Taxi did the work pro bono.