It's an ice time --- Sculptors Mark Berge and Cliff Vacheresse will be in town next week for virtual carving event

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Art as an icy medium will take shape on the Mamawe Concourse early next week as a pair of ice carvers demonstrate their frosty bit of winter craft.

Two Edmonton artists, Mark Berge and Cliff Bacheresse, will create well below-zero masterpieces, though they do have some business to take care of in Edmonton before heading north to the Swan City.

“They will be both be at Ice on Whyte.” said Catherine Ridgeway – Events & Entertainment Manager with the City of Grande Prairie. “Then they are going to come up after (Sunday and Monday).”

Ridgeway added the purpose is to get South Peace residents in a mindset to enjoy what sometimes can feel like a very long winter.

“That is kind of what we are building on — embracing the winter spirit,” Ridgeway said. “Celebrating is what makes us unique. We do want to build on this for 2022. We had ideas of having a winter festival this winter. but, obviously, with the (COVID-19) restrictions, we scaled it back to these two carvers who are local to Alberta. We can bring them here and get a taste for it and see what the interest is for next year.”

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Several other northern communities regularly have winter festivals, ranging from Edmonton to Jasper to Fort St. John and Carnaval de St. Isidore in the Peace River area.

“I think we really need to just tap into the winter spirit,” Ridgeway said. “I mean, we’re not getting away from it. (Winter) is happening regardless so we can embrace it, celebrate it, and find ways to enjoy it.”

Preparing for the arrival of Berge and Bacheresse and meeting their needs is a new experience for Ridgeway.

“I am actually learning a lot,” Ridgeway said. “I guess it has to be fairly cold for them to do the larger structures, so depending on the weather, (that dictates) what kind of sculpture they will do.”

If people want to watch the duo in action, constructing frozen testaments to celebrations of winter, Ridgeway recommends going online both Sunday and Monday.

“We are encouraging people to go online, either the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie’s social media or the Montrose Cultural Centre’s. We will do updates and live feeds. Then, of course, the sculptures will be all there for us to enjoy until the melt happens.”

The weather may work against the ice-carving duo, as Sunday’s forceast is for a temperature of 5 Celsius and Monday looks to be in the -4 Celsius range.

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