The Nottingham University Snow Sculpture team left from Birmingham Airport early Wednesday this week, and by Friday had flown via Schipol and Beijing to Harbin, northeast China.

The temperature there is today is around the -21C mark, so the cold weather gear they packed (one case tipped the scales at more than 30 kg) will have already proved absolutely essential clothing. Mind you, that's the daytime temperature - last night it was -30C! So it's no wonder that the Chinese can mine the local waterways for metre-size chunks of ice, and also that Harbin is aptly titled the 'Ice City.'

Emily Stapleton-Jefferis (second from left in the pic below) has this to say of the challenge, “...I’m currently in my second year studying Decorative Arts which I absolutely love! It means we get to explore loads of different materials from ceramics, to metal, to wood, and learn the skills to create beautiful and interesting pieces. I love all areas of Art and Design so when I found out about this competition I couldn’t wait to apply!”

Emily adds, “I’ve never worked on such a large scale before and know this is going to be a real challenge, which I actually find incredibly exciting as I love trying new things! I can’t wait to learn how to sculpt snow properly with all the exciting tools as I’ve only ever made a snowman before… The previous year’s entries look amazing and are really inspiring as to what we could possibly make.”

There’s enthusiasm for you, and right now that brio is being backed up by a course of practical skills, as the students are being taught the fine art of Chinese snow sculpture by mentors at Harbin Engineering University. The amazing snow sculpture shown at the top was hewn out of the white stuff at the last Festival, in 2011, so Nottingham Uni’s snow crew has a mighty challenge ahead!

You can keep up with the team at the Nottingham Uni blog, link at the top right of the main page.


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