Every morning, regardless of the weather Troy Purple treks down to Moon Bay to create his own style of therapy.
With nothing but a small stick and the camera on his iPad mini, Troy is creating something extraordinary in the sands of Mimosa Rocks National Park, just north of Tathra.
His artistic writing – inspirational sayings, people’s names, business logos, favourite bands – are all sketched into the wet sand at the water ‘s edge, the sun rising in the background.
His artworks can last mere seconds before the tide wipes his canvas clean ready for another – but that’s all part of the enjoyment – and catharsis – Troy finds.
Now a Tathra resident in his early 40s, Troy was living in Airlie Beach when Cyclone Debbie struck in 2017, wiping out much of what he had.
Twelve months later, almost to the day, he again lost everything in the Tathra bushfire.
His daily sessions on the beach, with the local wildlife (and occasional ‘clothing optional’ bather) his only companions, Troy is carving out a little bit of paradise for himself, and easing “a troubled mind” in the process.
“The tragedies over the last couple of years I guess inspire me,” Troy says.
“I find coming down here and doing what I do, having it all to myself ever morning other than the wildlife around me, I can sit here, listen to music and zone out and just write whatever comes into my head.
“It is helping me, but I admit I do sometimes have tears rolling down my cheeks for unbeknown reasons. I think I still have underlying issues involved with the events of last year and the year before that
“But this has a calming effect on me.”
That solitude is coupled with the growing acknowledgement of the online community, where Troy is finding plenty of admirers.
Captured before the waves clear them away on an early Friday morning as the clouds turn pink and orange overhead are the phrases “To be or not to be” and “Live, Love, Laugh”.
However, Troy also has several names and phrases on a scrap of paper in his hand, requests from a growing legion of fans across the world.
Whether I’m making money out of it or just doing it for myself to ease my thoughts in my head, I’m just loving what I do
Not only those smaller more personal requests, he says he has had commissions from businesses wanting their logo, or big name bands like Birds of Tokyo, Pink, and Richard Marx keen for Troy to scribe an image for an album cover or write their songs into the sand. His “therapy” has become a nice moneyspinner as well.
“This is a passion for me, I’ve been a chef for 30-odd years and I’m finding now that this is where I want to be, where I want to spend my mornings.
“Whether I’m making money out of it or just doing it for myself to ease my thoughts in my head, I’m just loving what I do.”
He says he regularly gets people asking whether he uses Photoshop editing to capture his words and one business wanting its logo done by Troy asked for it to “be more realistic”.
“Do I take that as a compliment or an insult?
“That is my backdrop, this is my stick, this is the sand – how do I make something real ‘more real’?”
Troy says his work as a chef over many years – at the moment a casual in the Tathra Hotel kitchen – designing menus, as well as “fancy pants” cooking, has parallels in his new passion for sand scribing.
“This is what I prefer to be doing most mornings rather than sweating my butt off in the kitchen!”
“I’ve always been one of those fancy pants chefs, food that you put on the plate and it’s something you’d like to hang on a wall.
“I like the artistic creation and building something, a structure. I guess you can transfer that to this [writing in the sand], it is very similar. Art is in so many forms.”