A few weekends ago, we bused up to Lake Louise in Banff National Park, for their annual ice carving competition and some mountain snowshoeing. It is an international competition that’s been slowly gaining an ice crampon foothold with more intricate,
arresting sculptures this year.
After 14 km. of snowshoeing and straining a groin muscle, we hustled over to the lake edge by Chateau Lake Louise. Late blue-gold sunlight was falling slowly
over each sparkling ice sculpture. The ethereal sculptures were from North America, Europe and Philippines. Thrusting mountains and a glacier draping over the lake, provided a fabulous backdrop for these sculptures that tended to rise up or dance gracefully in celebration.
Even the sculpture that was titled, “You’re My Puppet”, was light, yet precariously hovered over visitors. Though the design wasn’t intricate, carving and erecting a slim 7 metre high woman with delicate fingering of strings for her marionette child puppet, probably was the reason for a honourable mention. Hard to know how the carvers kept the ice-woman from toppling over.
My favourite ice sculpture was from Russia, “Song of the White Cranes”. I loved the gentle, mythological-folklore depiction of a child musician sitting on a horse wading in a frozen pool. The surface of the pool was etched with snow crusted white cranes –a delightful detail that I didn’t even notice until the second time I strolled by. On the third
time at night, I noticed this whole sculptural tableau was cleverly held up by carved goldfish swimming underneath the icy surface waters. No wonder why this artpiece took the Carvers’ choice award –its execution was masterful on several different levels.
The guiding theme for this year’s sculptures, was a song. So one of the Canadian entries was “Ewe Make Me Feel Like Dancing”: it inspired a sheep ice skating couple. A joint Philippine-Canadian sculpture featured a King-Kong like gorilla by a bamboo grove.
Many people were riveted by the ice sculpture that was a take-off from “Song of Many Happy Valleys”. It featured a dancing aboriginal woman with her back arched backward. Several other icy art pieces featured a figure playing a violin—the Netherlands offered a group of skeletons while another Russian piece featured a buxom woman with also a violin.
Later, Jack chatted with one of the carvers. Apparently some carvers run ice-carving businesses on the side while others are amateurs. Not surprisingly, some carvers were wood and log carvers in the summer.
These sparkling sculptures were delicate, yet quick mastery of ice. Ephemeral,
transparent art that becomes a memory and another wintery wish whenever snow and bitter cold sweeps in.
More Reading and Photos:
Chong, J. Lake Louise: Snowshoeing Snow-Glazed Mountains, Ice Castles and Bison Reuben Sandwiches. In Cycle Write Blog. Jan. 20,2012.