Stories of the Finnish Arctic Expertise
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Celebrating the art of snow

ARCTIC STORIES Top snow sculptors from around the Baltic Sea are braving the cold in Nallikari, Oulu. The stunning sculptures they create will form a transient winter art exhibition.

The Baltic Snow Call 2018 invited three-member teams from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Poland, Austria, Latvia, Estonia, Russia and China to compete for snow sculpting gold and glory.

Each team started with a 3-meter-high block of snow, and they carve unique sculptures using only hand tools. When the sculptures are ready and the winners are announced, the contest area will transform into Winter Art Park.

Is there any point in sculpting works of art that will soon turn into water?

“I think the best thing about snow sculpting is exactly the fact that it is momentary art. You have to come and see the sculptures before they melt”, replies the head of the contest, designer Janne Andberg. He is an experienced snow sculptor himself, just returning from the Sapporo Snow Festival.

“Many also appreciate the fact that the material is free, and the whole process is ecological.”

The Baltic Snow Call participants are experienced snow sculptors with international merits. Even though they are competitors, they seem to enjoy each other’s company – the experienced contestants know their peers from around the world, and reunions are  joyful.

“Competition may be fierce, but it is always fair. The teams help each other out, lend tools to each other, and there is always a happy banter”, Janne Andberg notes.

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Temperatures in Oulu are around -15 degrees Celsius, but the frost does not bother the contestants.

“The conditions are optimal. Sculpting is quite physical, so you get warm when you work. We also have great cooperation partners who provide us with nice places for breaks.”

In fact, the Baltic Snow Call participants praise the quality of the snow, and even the weather. Many competitions suffer when temperatures rise above zero or the sun shines bright because it can cause the sculptures to melt even before they are finished.

The public is welcome to watch the artists at work and to cheer their favourites. The sculptures are taking shape, and they look astounding. On Saturday and Sunday, the Lumo Light Festival will illuminate the sculptures.

Another wintry material is also bringing people to Oulu this weekend with Ice Climbing European Cup Finals 2018 and Finnish Ice Climbing National Championships. While the athletes climb the icy towers, the audience can test their strength in a Ice Axe Hanging Contest.

Snow and ice are turning into popular tourist attractions. The Kemi Snow Castle welcomes guests for the 23rd time, this year the theme is Animal Wonderland. The Lainio Snow Village in Kittilä is attracting international attention with fascinating sculptures depicting the world of the Game of Thrones.

There is now snow everywhere in Finland. Feel free to put your own creativity to work and start sculpting.

Photos (c) Jaani Föhr 

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