It’s a long way from the sunny climes of Jervis Bay in February to up to minus 20 in snow covered Japan but that is the journey four local intrepid artists are preparing to make.
Clayton Campion, Scott and Paul Sheehan and Rob Duff are heading to Japan to compete at the Sapporo Snow Festival.
The quartet form the Australian Snow Sculpture Team (ASST) and will compete at the 44th International Snow Sculpture Contest as part of the 68th Sapporo Festival.
The 2017 Aussie team has more than 30 years experience in creating amazing art and 20 years of understanding of snow, its form and structure.
Scott, Clayton and Rob were actually school mates and are part of the Jervis Bay and Basin Arts group and will be joined by Scott’s father Paul.
All teams will have a three metre high, three metre wide and three metre deep block of compressed snow to work with.
Scott, Clayton and Paul will be the snow carvers, while Rob is co-ordinating the team’s efforts.
Carving out their design will be a challenge in -5 to -20 winter conditions.
Mr Duff said it would be an exciting adventure.
“It’s a pretty incredible event, we will be one of 10 international teams from around the world taking part,” he said.
“And there is a real camaraderie between the teams. They get together at the end of each day and compare progress and designs and even swap cultural experiences.”
As for the design idea, he said the team wanted two Aussie icons that represented Australian culture.
“There’s nothing more Australian than the Opera House or an echidna,” he said.
“We also tried to come up with a design that didn’t take a lot of snow way from our block.
“It’s on display for a few days and if we get a few sunny days we don’t want it melting away.
“The echidna, with its short stumpy body and the sails of the Opera House met that criteria.
“In typical Aussie fashion our team meetings have been held in the backyard, under the Hills Hoist in the summer sun.”
They have made a scale model in clay and will be using it to create their final snow masterpiece.
“Snow sculpting tools are quite expensive, so we have been fashioning some of our own and have taken them to local beaches to see how they work,” he said.
“Two million people visit the festival, so it is a good chance to also showcase the Shoalhaven and in particular Jervis Bay.”
They will start their sculpture on February 5 and have four days to complete their work. The festival runs through until February 12.
The team has self funded their airfares and accommodation and is raising funds for some of the speciality snow sculpting tools and would certainly welcome any local support.
You can follow the Aussie team’s efforts at the 2017 Snow Sculpture LIVE @ Facebook Australian-snow-sculpting-team or on Instagram @aussnowsculpting
A closer look at the Aussie team
Clayton Campion - Clayton is an sculptor and painter with a background in signwriting.
He has spent snow seasons snowboarding in Australia and endured working in the snow through the European winter.
His art has lead him around Australia including Byron Bay, Melbourne, North West Western Australia, Wagga Wagga, Cocos Islands and to the Ukraine where he was engaged to paint murals throughout a new palace.
He is currently working on a mural in his home town.
Clayton is looking forward to his trip to Japan to expand his sculpting skills and to take the time to learn traditional Japanese calligraphy to partner with his traditional signwriting skills.
Scott Sheehan - Surfing and the snow brought Scott to Japan 15 years ago and Sapporo is his second home.
His art reflects the environment he lives in.
From photography, painting, drawing and sculpture, creating art and living in a snow has Scott back each year to Hokkaido and the Sapporo Snow Festival.
Creating the “Frogzilla” snow sculpture for the 2016 International Snow Sculpture Contest was a great achievement.
Paul Sheehan - Having an interest in art, music and the outdoors Paul has spent time bush walking, climbing the Snowy Mountains in and trekking in New Zealand.
He enjoys creating ink drawings of Australian wildlife and carving wood and stone sculptures.
His interest in music has taken him from learning the trumpet to traveling to Japan to study the Japanese musical instrument the Shakuhachi zen flute.
Rob Duff - Rob has been designing and creating unique timber furniture for more than 20 years.
He uses natural and recycled timber in his sculptural furniture pieces and has a passion for photography.
Rob’s design, building and project management skills are a great asset to the team.