Rick-Thomson Jones loves making people smile with his beach sculptures. (ABC News: Emma Siossian)
Quirky beach creations made by a man affectionately referred to as Rainbow Rick are bringing a community together and, in some cases, restoring people’s faith in humanity.
Rick Thomson-Jones moved to the New South Wales mid-north coast from Queensland about two years ago.
He began creating outdoor art on Port Macquarie’s popular Shelly Beach to mark events and public holidays, including Australia Day, Easter and Anzac Day.
In a world that is increasingly busy and complicated, Mr Thomson-Jones’s beach sculptures appear to be capturing imaginations and bringing out the best in people.
“It gives people a smile for sure, that’s why I do it. I figure if it gives people a smile it’s worthwhile,” he said.
“It’s surprising that silly little simple things can give pleasure and it gives me a smile too.”
Rick Thomson-Jones created an evolving beach sculpture on the Easter long weekend, which ended with a fun Easter Sunday display. (Supplied: Annette Grant)
Often dressed in a kaleidoscope of colours, Mr Thomson-Jones always makes time to chat with locals and visitors, and sometimes leaves a blank book out for people to leave comments.
He said many people stopped to leaf through the book, and it was surprising to read how his creations had uplifted people and helped strangers connect.
“I think one of the really lovely things about it is that when people stop and look at it, then somebody else stops and then they get into conversation, and a lot of times people say they met people that way.”
The artworks are also the backdrop of many selfies and family beach snaps.
“He’s made a positive difference to this community,” a Port Macquarie resident said.
“It’s great seeing this man come down and share this creativity and watching people share the work. It’s just amazing.”
Rick Thomson-Jones creates his sculptures for events and public holidays, including Australia Day. (Supplied: Rick Thomson-Jones)
Sculptures started as a gift for an elderly mate
Mr Thomson-Jones first created an outdoor sculpture while he was in Queensland caring for his father.
“I was caring for my father up at Sandgate in Queensland and he was in the beachfront area and couldn’t walk with his mates, so I did a funny little thing they could see near the water for one of their birthdays,” he said.
“They got enjoyment from it, and I saw others got enjoyment from them as well, and that’s how I started.”
Rick Thomson-Jones’s quirky beach creations are uplifting for people in his local community. (Supplied: Rick Thomson-Jones)
Artworks a labour of love
Mr Thomson-Jones said he spent hours creating his beach artworks.
“I do them at night-time and try and finish by daylight, and normally I put in at least five hours. Sometimes it will take me all night,” he said.
He also makes subtle changes to his quirky sculptures over a period of days so they are constantly evolving.
Fortunately, people seem to appreciate and respect his works.
“I hardly ever have incidents where people muck it up,” he said.
“A lady said to me at my first sculpture on Australia Day, that to see it remain untouched had improved her outlook on people.”
Some of the beach sculptures are created around a theme, including one that was done during Port Macquarie’s Hello Koalas Festival. (Supplied: Rick Thomson-Jones)
No art training
Despite his passion for sharing outdoor art with the community, Mr Thomson-Jones has no formal art training.
“I found my old school report from high school and I failed art,” he said.
“But I think everybody’s an artist in one way or other.”
Rick Thomson-Jones always makes time to stop and chat with locals and visitors, loving the connections between people. (ABC News: Emma Siossian.)