The Australian Snow Sculpture team is preparing to once again take on the world’s best at the Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido, Japan.
The Aussie team, made up of South Coast artists Scott Sheehan, Kylie Douglass and Paul Sheehan will take part in the 45th International Snow Sculpture Contest.
It will certainly be a long way from the warm, summer weather of the Shoalhaven to conditions of up to minus 20 degrees in Japan.
After making a huge impression over the past few years the local team is keen to impress again.
The Sapporo Snow Festival, is one of Japan's largest winter events with more than two million people visiting Sapporo to see more than 250 snow and ice sculptures that line Odori Park, in the heart of the city
For seven days from February 5-11, the local team will work to create a sculpture purely out of a three metre by three metre block of compressed snow.
Scott Sheehan said the team will also have to battle at times extreme weather conditions with heavy snowfalls up to 30 centimetres a day and average temperatures of between -5 to -20 degrees.
After gaining rave reviews for the last two years’ sculptures, Frog-o-zilla featuring the rare endangered Australian Green and Golden Bell Frog in 2016 and Opera-chidna last year, incorporating two Aussie icons that represent Australian culture, the Opera House and an echidna, this year the team has another eye-catching design.
Entitled The Breach, the sculpture incorporates an Australian and Japanese connection from the love of the ocean, marine life and creative Japanese art.
“It features the Great Wave off Kanagawa that stands tall over Mt Fuji and a whale. Both the water and whales have such a strong connection with the Shoalhaven, South Coast and in particular Jervis Bay,” Mr Sheehan said.
“The ocean connects us, crossing paths that bind our cultures together.”
The Sapporo Snow Festival started in 1950, with six snow statues made by local high school students.
It attracted 50,000 visitors and soon became a major winter event of Sapporo.
Australian participated in the very first International snow sculpture contest at the Sapporo back in 1974.
This year’s team will continue the relationship established 43 years ago with this cultural exchange between Japan and Australia.
At the 45th International Snow Sculpture Contest The 2018 Australian team will compete against 10 teams from around the world including Korea, Finland, Hawaii, Indonesia, Latvia, Macao, Poland, Portland (USA), Singapore and Thailand.
Ahead of their big adventure the team is busily fundraising.
While the team has paid their own airfares to Japan they are looking to raise funds for their specialised snow tools, site transportation and accommodation.
The team has a special fundraising raffle operating on its Sapporo Snow Festival page at www.whatajapan.com/what-a-japan-shop.html where you can also donate towards the team’s efforts.
Taking a look at the local team.
The 2018 Australian Snow Sculpture team has more than 30 years experience in creating amazing art and 20 years of understanding of the snow and its form and structure.
Scott Sheehan - Surfing and the snow took Scott to Japan over 17 years ago. He regards Sapporo as his second home.
Scott’s art reflects the environment in which he lives.
From photography, painting, drawing and sculpture, creating art and living in the snow has Scott back each year to Hokkaido and the festival.
Kylie Douglass - Kylie lives on the South Coast and works from home as an artist.
The coast provides her signature medium, the giant cuttlefish bone, which is carved and sculpted into major works.
Kylie has exhibited professionally for the past 16 years with works travelling nationally and internationally.
She is currently studying Auslan with the hope for the future to teach art to the hearing and sight impaired.
Paul Sheehan - Paul has an interest in art, music and the outdoors.
He has has spent time bushwalking, climbing the Snowy Mountains in Australia and trekking in New Zealand and 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.