Walking along the pavement (sidewalk) in Bear Street to do a bit of minor shopping, head down to watch out for undulations which would indicate patches of black ice under the trodden snow, I didn’t notice the barriers across the road. But I couldn’t miss the six 3-metre cube wooden crates sitting in the middle a few yards further on. It was if they had been beamed down from space. I overheard one grumpy Brit from the Sarfeast complaining “They’ve just dumped them in the middle of the street”.
An A-board next to the crates announced that they may have something to do with Banff SnowDays, an annual celebration of winter in January.
SnowDays usually features come-and-try-it ice skating on the playing field alongside the high school, flooded to create an outdoor rink in the winter, music provided in case you fancy yourselves as Torvill and Dean. For a few years there has been ice-climbing on an artificial ice-wall in Banff Avenue. One year, ice-sculptures were dotted around the town.
This year was obviously different.
Over the next few days the sides of the crates were dismantled to expose huge cubes of compacted snow, barriers were set up and artists from North America and Europe moved in armed with power saws, handsaws, rasps, files, scrapers and polishers.
The lumpen cubes of snow were transformed into giant works of art. When finished the barriers were opened to allow people to get close to them. Fire-tables were lit, sparkling and crackling, giving off an unbeatable smell of wood-smoke. After dark, coloured floodlights picked out the features. Great experience.
I heard nobody else complaining. Everyone loved it. All ages waited their turn for a photo opportunity in front of the skier, or the buffalos, or the explorer in a rowing boat, or the winter-visitor-with-binoculars. Most popular seemed to be the wolf’s head with the magic wonderland in the back of it.
I don’t offer comment on the sculptures, I don’t know enough about art. But, in my philistinic opinion, as a municipal/community/international artistic event it was right up there with the best.
Maybe inspired by the idea. Maybe anticipating it. A nine inch high child’s creation on a tree stump alongside the frozen, snow-covered river.
Across the planet and the seasons see: Nisyros: Beach Art