Portraits on Ice returns to Winterlude - Metro US

Portraits on Ice returns to Winterlude

He may only be 30 years old, but he’s already a veteran when it comes to ice carving.

For the launch of Winterlude this weekend, Ottawa’s Suguru Kanbayashi will be competing with fellow Ottawa carver Kevin Ashe to create “a circus scene gone wrong” in the international ice carving competition at the Crystal Garden.

“You want your carving to tell a story,” Kanbayashi said. “You want to be able to draw your audience in.”

At 11:30 a.m. Friday, Kanbayashi and Ashe begin 28 hours of work among dozens of other professional carvers at Confederation Park. Kanbayashi fell into ice carving after watching his father, Ikuo — who was one of the original carvers at Winterlude — work.

“I was fortunate to start at a very young age,” Kanbayashi said.

Ice sculptures at Winterlude have grown in popularity over the years, he said.

“Back in the early ’80s, they had about 30 blocks of ice,” he said. “Now, we’re allotted about 2,000.”

“It’s an art form that is quite unique,” he said.

Something that might surprise people is that unlike wood and stone, “ice is extremely easy to cut,” he said. “As long as the tools are sharp, they cut through ice like butter.”

Ice carving is also an art form that you have to see in person, Kanbayashi said.

And although his work of art will melt away in a few weeks, he’s not sad to see it go.

“As long as I have a couple of hours to enjoy it, it’s OK,” he said.

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