Snow sculptors love creating art

Jodi Schellenberg
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Driving down River Street, Prince Albert citizens could see one of the unique competitions in the Winter Festival.

The snow sculptors were hard at work over the weekend, turning giant blocks of snow on the side of the street into amazing pieces of artwork.

All the sculptures were unique, with each artist having a vision in their head of what they wanted to create to honour the Winter Festival and the city.

Gary Natomagan, who has been in the snow sculpture competition for about eight years, slowly chipped away at his block to reveal the Olympic women’s hockey goalie.

Art is one of Natomagan’s passions -- he not only sculpts, but paints and sketches as well.

“I am a wildlife artist and I do soapstone carving and stuff -- this is bigger scale,” he said. “I just love doing stuff like this. It is something to do with art.”

 “I am a self-taught artist -- I just grew up with it,” Natomagan added.

There is a lot of difference between soapstone and snow, he said.

“Soapstone is really small and easy to carve,” Natomagan said. “It is not like snow, which is really delicate. You really have to watch where you are carving.”

The winner of the snow sculpting competition was Quentin Sylvester, who created a piece of work incorporating everything that was happening at the winter festival, from mushing and jigging to singers and an eagle eating a fish.

“I put whatever I could fit on there,” he said. “It is just to celebrate 50 years of winter festival, the mushing and dancing competition. It is celebrating winter.”

He also has a history of artistic talent and has been painting, carving and sketching since he was about eight years old.

The carving competition has become a family events for Sylvester and his family.

“I was here for a couple years and now my kids are joining me,” he said. “They built a cabin over there. We are all out here having fun.”

Although a third artist, Stephen Hordyski, has not been sculpting as long as Natomagan or Sylvester, he was excited to be at the Winter Festival.

“I have a bad back and am supposed to be going for surgery right away, so it took a lot of meds but it is a form of therapy for me,” Hordyski said. “I just wanted to get out, get exercise, enjoy the weekend and do something for P.A. for everyone to enjoy.”

Although he used to be into sculpting at a smaller scale, Hordyski stopped when he first had children because he didn’t want them to hurt themselves on wood sculpting tools.

“Last year I came and thought I would try something big scale and see how I would make out,” Hordyski said.

His sculpture was of a 50th anniversary dragon queen, he explained.

“I love doing dragons and mystical things. Everyone seems to like that type of thing,” Hordyski said. “I am kind of basing it towards children -- something they can come and enjoy.

“I picked something like this because no one can say whether it is wrong or not. It is my own vision and creation. In case my back gave out and couldn’t finish, no one would know if it was completed or not, only I would,” he laughed.

Since he doesn’t know how his surgery will go, Hordyski is thinking about getting into wood carving again.

“I don’t know if I will be able to return back into what I was doing before so I need to get into something and I am thinking about getting into doing carvings, but with wood,” he said. “I saw ‘Saw Dogs’ on TV last year and got inspired and thought, ‘Hey, I should get back into carving.’ I just hope everybody enjoys it.”

All three of the sculptors enjoyed being part of the winter festival, especially Hordyski.

“It was fun and I was glad I was able to be a part of the winter festival, especially on the 50th anniversary.”  

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