Ice sculpture fund-raising event benefits Women’s Outreach Society

Large chunks of ice, a storey in height, were transformed into a stylized eagle, a polar bear, a buffalo and other images in a unique fundraiser held in Red Deer this past weekend.

Johnny McMartin

Large chunks of ice, a storey in height, were transformed into a stylized eagle, a polar bear, a buffalo and other images in a unique fundraiser held in Red Deer this past weekend.

The Elements of Ice sculpture exhibit, at the corner of 55 St. and Gaetz Ave., brought around 10 sculptors to the community to raise money for and awareness about the Central Alberta Women’s Outreach’s plan to build a 10-suite affordable housing project for abused women and their children.

Developer Ken Wessel said he was talking to his colleague Morton Burke, who is creating a sculpture for the housing project, known as Julietta’s Place. Wessel wanted to find a way to let people know about the apartment building and he and Burke thought an ideal way would be to have an ice sculpture exhibit.

Burke has been a sculptor since 1983, working in stone, ice, clay, styrofoam and glass. He is known in Alberta for holding the Bergen Rocks Symposium the past couple of years, which is an event that has drawn sculptors from all over the planet to the Rocky Mountain foothills to create large artistic pieces out of rock.

Burke said the conditions for working with the ice were good this past weekend. The sculptors need the temperature to be below zero so the ice doesn’t get too soft and start to break too easily, but if it gets too cold it’s a challenge for the artists to be outside for very long. They cut through and shaped the ice using chainsaws, a clothes iron, a draw knife and other implements.

He said it’s always fun to create some forms. “It’s really fulfilling to see people come and enjoy what we have created,” he said.

All of the money raised at the Elements of Ice sculpture exhibit will go to finance the $1.6-million project, known as Julietta’s Place. The City of Red Deer has put $1.05 million towards the cost and the rest will be covered through fundraising. The project will allow women who are victims of domestic violence transition into independent life over a six-month to two-year period.

Wessel hopes to hold the ice sculpture exhibit again next year.

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