It doesn’t snow very often in this country and when it does, some people like to moan about the disruption and some people like to get creative. As I type, Facebook is being flooded by pictures of snowmen, snowdogs, snowmonsters and igloos. I even added to the plethora of amateur snow art by adding a picture of these wonderful three snowmen made by my eldest son.
Then an old school friend of mine posted a picture of a Lego snowman he’d made. His creativeness wowed me. This wasn’t an ordinary snowman, this was a Lego snowman that actually looked really pretty good. Of course this caught my attention also because it mixes Lego art with snow art. Genius!
The next day my friend made a dolphin.
And of course this all got me thinking about the use of snow as an art material. Snow is a transitional art material, but it is very versatile: one does not need glue, double-sided sticky tape or sharp implements. So long as one has the right sort of snow (not too powdery, not too slushy) then all one needs is two hands (with gloves on them, not mittens) and an idea.
If I search for ‘snow art’ on the internet one name keeps cropping up: Simon Beck. This man doesn’t make snowmen or igloos, he creates elaborate crop-circle like patterns in the snow using just a large flat piece of land, some snow and a pair of snow shoes. Actually that’s not strictly true, he also uses an orienteering compass and measuring tape to get his bearings and form the design, and then uses a clothes line and central anchor to create curves and circles. There’s a mathematical quality to his snow art. His patterns are said to have different effects when viewed from various vantage points in the varying light during the course of the day. His art only lasts a few hours, but this somehow adds to their magic quality.
Sculpting in snow is a serious business. The Saint Paul Winter Carnival which includes snow and ice carving competitions is the oldest annual winter carnival in the world, the first of which was held in 1886. Frankenmuth in Michigan hosts its own snow and ice sculpture festival towards the end of January with artists travelling far and wide to carve the snow. Frankenmuth’s Snowfest consists of ice carving competitions and snow sculpting competitions at primary school, high school, state, national, and international levels. However, being a snow artist is not always easy. In China, for example, artists have to work in temperatures of -30 degrees centigrade.
I might suggest to my Lego-snowman making friend that he considers taking his art further afield. It doesn’t snow very often in these parts. He might need to invest in some industrial strength thermals though.
Lori Zimmer, ‘Artist Creates Gigantic Winter Crop Circles Just by Walking in the Snow!’ Inhabitat (2 June 2012), http://inhabitat.com/artist-makes-giant-wintry-crop-circles-just-by-walking-in-the-snow/ [last accessed 21 January 2013]
Wikipedia on snow sculpting, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_sculpture [last accessed 21 January 2013]