Brian McArthur set the scene of a famous Canadian monument, falling snow and a cold snap.
After about five days of sculpting snow in cold Edmonton temperatures, -30 C before the windchill, he and his wife and fellow artist Dawn Detarando had finished up a 12 foot tall snowy Vimy Ridge memorial replica.
As snow softly fell, an honour guard helped open the Silver Skate Festival in Edmonton.
“We’ve done a number of sculptures for the Silver Skate Festival,” said McArthur. “It was one of the focal points for the opening of Silverskate.”
McArthur and Detarando own and operate Voyager Art and Tile, a private ceramic studio near Red Deer.
The couple was commissioned to create the sculpture at the festival.
Before they arrived, the forms were built and filled with snow, allowing the snow to settle. The forms were removed just before sculpting began.
For five days, they braved the weather to build the sculpture.
“Most of the day we had two tuques on and three balaclavas,” said McArthur. “You really just had to keep on going because we had to get it done.”
They worked from the top down, removing the larger pieces of snow using chainsaws and shovels. Then, for the smaller parts, switched to chisels and sanders.
After finishing up the Vimy Ridge monument replica, the couple started work on more sculptures.
They crafted a two-sided sculpture called first by the ribbons of water then by steel. It depicted voyageurs in a canoe on the water on one side and a train coming down a track on the other. It won the people’s choice at the international snow sculpting symposium, which was part of the festival.