After my not so successful attempt in photographing the ice sculptures at the Lake Louise Ice Magic Festival last year, due to weather and timing, I made sure I had enough time and opportunity to capture them in their full glory this year.
What a venue, what a location, what amazing art!
Below the entry to the ice sculpture competition, framed by the majestic Rockies and Victoria glacier.
Every 3rd weekend in January ice carvers from all over the world meet here to compete. Ten teams of two, that are specifically invited for this event, transform 15 300 lb blocks of ice into a sculpture that represents a given competition motto.
This years motto, on the occasion of Canada's upcoming birthday:
"Canada - True North"
The rules are hard, the ice is cold, the time is short...
Intrigued about what "Clinebell" sculpting ice is, I did some research, this is what I found on the companies website:
Pretty cool, literally....just imagine the logistics of getting 150 300lb blocks of ice situated....
Altogether I visited the festival 4 times during the few days I stayed in the area. The first time Sunday night, right after the competition had ended. And I was just blown away.....
Please click on the images to appreciate the details!
"Training Day" by Team Biasas won 1st place and the people's choice award this year. The brothers Antonio and Ross Biasas, from the Philippines, delivered an amazing piece of art. Unfortunately the sculpture was located in a spot where it was extremely difficult to photograph it properly. I tried my best but feel I could not do it justice. It shows in unbelievable detail a mother bear catching fish swimming in a river, with her cub on the shore trying to copy the mothers hunting habits, while being challenged by what I believe is an eagle.
From the single scales on the multiple fish to the bubbles in the water and the intricate feathers of the eagle, the details are just mind blowing!
"Ancestral" by Team Russian Bears came in second.
The sculpture by Eduard Ponomarenka and Valeriy Batalov is very imposing and impressing
Clear forms and an exact execution make for a deep impact.
Team Jelgava made 3rd place with this monumental sculpture.
With "Memories of the North" Karlis Ile and Maija Puncule from Latvia created an epic piece of temporary art.
Looking at the sculpture from this angle one can indeed imagine how these majestic creatures roamed the area, they fit in just perfectly!
The Carvers Choice award went to another remarkable sculpture, "Lone Bison" by Team Ice Choppers. Even more remarkable that this was just a team of one, Don Lowing from the USA!
Again, a sculpture with lots of detail and meaning...
While I was strolling back and forth between the sculptures, I ran into this gentleman, a different kind of sculpture, but nevertheless, he caught my attention. Honoring the Canadian Pacific Railway Swiss guides centennial this statue is dedicated to the memory of the Swiss mountain guides and was put in place in October 1999. He didn't have an eye for the sculptures, though, his mind was on the mountains....
Back to the ice...apart from the winners there were more extraordinary sculptures that are worth mentioning.
"Northern Roots" from Team Scott & Kee, (Scott Harrison, USA and Kee Gawah, Sweden/Malaysia) depicting an imposing dream catcher, is another example of intricate and detailed craftsmanship.
The artists' statement about this artwork sure helps taking in the full meaning of the sculpture and the thought process behind it.
"Northern Descent" shows us one of Canada's' signature bird in an iconic way
Team Frozen Art, Dean Murray and Edwin Hutchison from the USA, absolutely living up to their team name!
I just had to play with light and detail on this one...
Last but surely not least, my favorite sculpture of the competition.
"The Guardian" by Team Sakha, Egor Stepanov and Alexey Andreev from Russia, Republic of Sakha. These two won the Carver's Choice Award as well as the People's Choice Award last year with their sculpture " The Beloved Blue Shore".
Majestic, elegant and and just stunningly beautiful.
I wish I would know the idea behind this sculpture...a Native Canadian version of Lady Liberty, holding a maple leaf in her hand, standing on a moose/caribou guarding Canada...that would be my interpretation...
Tips for visiting the International Ice Carving Competition at the Lake Louise Ice Magic Festival:
During the actual competition one needs to buy tickets to visit the site, the tickets are available at the Banff/Lake Louise website.
If you are not a friend of crowds, just wait until about 5.30 on Sunday, or any time thereafter on the weekdays following the competition weekend. Entry is free and way less people are around....
For twilight and night photography you will need a tripod!
The sun hits the area only between about 10 am to 11.30 am during this time of the year. Visiting the ice carvings during an overcast day is rather frustrating, as they just don't show as well. If there is no sun in the forecast, go at night!