Monday, February 13, 2012

Ice sculpting at the Helsinki Zoo

Last weekend on Sunday our family went to the Korkeasaari Zoo in Helsinki.   People living in sunny California might be thinking, Zoo in the middle of winter in Finland, really?  Yes, the Korkeasaari Zoo in Helsinki is open year round, even in the coldest of winter days when the barometer is -20 Celsius or less.  We happened to go on a balmy 19 F (-7 Celsius) day, which actually wasn't all that bad.  We had been to the Zoo many times before and enjoy watching the animals, but the main reason for this trip was to see the Ice Sculpting contest, "Art meets Ice".

This International ice sculpting contest featured ice sculptors from all over the world.  They had both a solo and couples competition over two weekends.   The 12 competitors in the solo competition hailed from India, Mongolia, Finland, Latvia, Spain, Slovenia, Germany, UK, Portugal and Russia.  The 24 teams from the couples competition featured a couple from Norway and France as well as some of the solo competitors mixed with their fellow countrymen.  The solo competition challenged the competitors to commemorate the declaration of Helsinki as the capital of the Finnish Grand Duchy.  Its elevation to capital status occurred 200 years ago and represented the most significant turning point in the city's history.  In the couples competition international and mixed teams carved ice in celebration of the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012.  Nature itself is a design incubator that has thoroughly polished processes and innovative end products

Since I have never lived in a Nordic country before, this was the first time I had seen a unique event as this one.  We first looked at all the amazing finished pieces sculpted from the prior weekend.  There were all sorts of interesting shapes and colors, including yellow and clear ice.  Later, we ventured over to the couples competition where we saw them creating their teamwork inspired masterpieces.  They were about half way into the process when we arrived.  The artists used chainsaws, chisels, hand saws, and all sort of other tools to establish their creations. They even melded some pieces together to form certain types of objects. It was quite amazing watching them turn inanimate blocks of ice into wonderful pieces of art.

Later the kids had their chance to be little artists in the Zoo's snow sculpting workshop.  Snow is a raw material that can be used in many ways.  I have been told it can be used to build playgrounds, slides or beautiful artwork to decorate your garden.  The kids had a blast carving away in the snow.  It was a very memorable day at the Zoo in the middle of Winter.

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