Wooler artist bags top prize for UK at international ice sculpture event
A WOOLER artist has beaten off international competition to claim first prize for the UK in an ice cool contest.
Jonathan Lloyd and sculpting partner Piers Griffin carved the UK to glory in the 10-hour doubles competition at the prestigious London Ice Sculpting Festival, beating last year’s champions Portugal and fighting off stiff competition from Latvia and the USA.
Now in its fifth year, the London Ice Sculpting Festival made a spectacular return over three days from January 11-13, against the dramatic backdrop of Canary Wharf. The field included teams from Bulgaria, Hungary, Belgium, France, Spain, Latvia, Sweden, Portugal, Netherlands and the USA, as well as the UK.
Jonathan, who won the singles speed carving competition at the 2012 event, went all out for the big one this time, creating a design that judges - festival founder Carol Cordrey and internationally renowned sculptors Sophie Dickens and Adam Binder - hailed a “skilful and innovative” interpretation of the ‘Wonders of the Universe’ theme.
“We were given quite a short time to get our designs in, but the figure of Icarus, who’s wings melted, seemed an apt, if ironic subject for the competition,” Jonathan explained. “I also took a clue from a modern figure, Felix Baumgartner, who jumped from 25 miles and survived!”
Each team competing in the 10-hour doubles was given a two-metre block of ice weighing in at two tonnes. The designs had to be submitted back in November, with each team deciding whether they wanted blocks placed in a landscape or portrait format on the stage. Jonathan and Piers were the ony team to have their block placed horizontally.
“We took a strategic decision, given the mild weather, to put the block landscape so that we could get breadth into the piece without any joins,” Jonathan said. “The 20 or so inches we cut off the end of the block at the start contained all the material we needed to get up to nearly 8ft using only horizontal joins.”
By the end of the first day; a gruelling seven-hour shift, Jonathan and Piers’ sculpture had all the components in place, but was looking ragged and “way too chunky,” according to Jonathan.
Facing a dilemma, Jonathan had to make crucial decisions at the beginning of day two about how much structural ice to remove to make the piece more refined, given that he had to ensure enough remained to keep the piece standing for the half hour judging session.
“Ten minutes before the end of the carving time we decided it was all or nothing and made some bold decisions to cut away supports,” he said.
It was touch and go, with parts of the sculpture coming to grief only an hour after judging, but Icarus stood firm throughout the crucial half hour. “We came very close to Icarus’ fate with a lot of weight on the right hand wing and very little support,” Jonathan admitted. “The brief spells of sun have a dramatic impact, weakening the strength of the ice, but we had to take those risks.”
They certainly paid off, with the Icarus sculpture impressing the judges enough to take first place on the day, ahead of runners-up the USA and third-placed Latvia.
Judge Carol Cordrey, who founded the London Ice Sculpting Festival in 2008, said: “The UK team of Jonathan Lloyd and Piers Griffin should feel especially proud to have won the festival’s major challenge with such a skilful and innovative interpretation of the theme, The Wonders of the Universe, which instantly impressed the entire judging panel.”
“We were delighted,” Jonathan said. “A UK win in such a fiercely contested competition is no mean feat, especially up against the USA who work so cleanly and with such great technical experience.”
Although there are cash prizes to be won, Jonathan says the atmosphere is the real draw of the competition. “I think teams keep coming back because of the great international rapport that exists,” he said, adding: “Piers and I will be back next year to defend our title.”
But for now it’s back to the day job for Jonathan; preparing for his forthcoming exhibition of paintings and woodcuts at the Berwick Watchtower which will run from March 30 to April 26. To see more of Jonathan’s work, visit his website www.jplloyd.co.uk
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Weather for Berwick-Upon-Tweed
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 7 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: South west