The Ice Palace

If, like me, you are a fan of unique hotel experiences then nothing in the world can beat the Icehotel in Sweden. Constructed annually in Jukasjarvi each room is carved out of ice, yes you read correctly…ice. But more about that in a minute. First…

The Greenwich Arts Council will present an art exhibit entitled “Arctic Women and their Art: Paintings, Sculptures and Ceramics” with an opening reception on July 22, 6-9 p.m. inaugurating a display which will run until Aug. 27 at the Art’s Council’s Bendheim Gallery on Greenwich Avenue. For more information log onto Greenwicharts.org or call 203-862-6750.

This exhibit will bring together, for the first time in the United States, the work of three prominent Swedish artists. All are affiliated with the world-renowned Icehotel for which they each carve individual rooms in ice. Artist Anna Sofia works extensively in ice and snow, she is essentially a ceramic artist particularly noted for her sense of humor and whimsy. Her ceramic sculpture combines a variety of influences, both western and eastern as well as her experience of the Arctic. Nina’s multi-media art work includes painting and stone sculpture, which again demonstrates her facility with ice carving. She is a regular instructor at the Icehotel. Finally, Sofi will be exhibiting examples of her recent designs and paintings reflecting not only her home in Northern Sweden, but also her many years of traveling in Pakistan and Afghanistan

In Sweden, the building of the Icehotel starts in mid-November when large clouds of snow start to drift along the Torne River. The snow is sprayed on huge steel forms and allowed to freeze. After a couple of days, the forms are removed, leaving a maze of free-standing corridors of snow. In the corridors, dividing walls are built in order to create rooms and suites. Ice blocks are then transported into the hotel where artists from all over the world start creating the rooms. The interior design rivals that of any other luxury hotel!

The construction is done in several phases. As one section is completed, it opens to visitors and overnight guests, while the other sections are still under construction due to the ephemeral nature of snow and ice. If you are in Sweden during the building phase you may be allowed a unique look into the building process.

The artists displaying their work this season at the Greenwich Bendheim gallery come from a distant place and use materials that could not withstand our summer heat. They will bring, with their art, a gust of fresh air and frozen whimsy as they tell the stories of a land so different from this one. A story of an eternally mysterious country where the sun shines at night and great artisans go about sculpting a palace made of ice…like something out of a fairy tale the palace will soon disappear, melting back into the earth from which it sprang leaving us to wonder if it was ever real or just another fragment of our imagination…

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