Aussies warm up Winterlude

By Matthew Harrison
Strolling among the European ice sculptures adorning the snowy lawn of Festival Plaza, one can also catch a sneak peek at next year’s Winterlude theme: A Gateway to Australia.

Wielding a chainsaw, and wearing a hard hat, ear protectors, and steel-toed boots, Glenn Smith, an Australian ice carver, sculpted with painstaking care, a kangaroo, a sailboat and a koala bear sitting atop a globe on the Australian continent.

Also included among the Australian sculptures is the Olympic trademark logo, a reminder that Sydney will be the host of this year’s Summer Olympics.

Preparing us for Win-terlude 2001, Australia has flown over three ice from carvers, Glenn Smith, John Brady and Viktor Cebergs.
Both Brady, a renowned Australian chainsaw wood carver and Cebergs, an artist who works in wood and stone, are new to ice carving.

They consider this year’s event as a practice run for next year’s Winterlude.

Smith, however, has been carving in ice, his main medium, for 20 years.

He has sculpted at the world championships in Japan seven times, attended ice sculpting competitions at the past two Winter Olympics and has previously created works of art in Canada: once in 1995 for the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, and in 1991, when Australia was the feature nation at Winterlude.

“This year we’re working with 150 blocks of ice, each a metre by a metre and roughly a quarter of a metre thick, but next year we’ll be working with 2,500 blocks of ice,” says Smith, chuckling.

“In Australia there’s not much call for outdoor work,” he adds.
“Generally, I carve ice sculptures for cocktail parties, indoor festivals, and product launches.”

“This is a good opportunity for Canadians to look at some of Australia’s culture in the context of Winterlude, although this year is strictly limited to the sculptures,” says Frances Lisson, of the Australian high commission.

Smith finds carving for Winterlude rewarding.

“In Australia the ice starts to melt as soon as you present it. Here, it doesn’t start melting for days which allows you to get more detail and concentrate on larger and more complex designs,” he says.

Next year’s theme for Winterlude, A Gateway to Australia, was chosen because Australia will be celebrating the 100th year of it’s Centenary of Federation.