The White Knight

The White Knight


The White Knight was the first sculpture attempted after a four year absence from sculpting. The subject matter was a little dull but that's because the key to this one was structure. That was the goal. We wanted to do things with snow that hadn't been done before (to our knowledge anyway). Keep in mind that the only thing you are allowed to use to make your sculpture out of is snow, ice and water. This sculpture combined mould-making, carving and scaffolding to exceed my own personal expectations.It's important to notice that the cape, the man and the horse do not actually touch in any more that a few places. They are not support for each other, which would have been the easier, logical way of doing things. We chose the more ridiculous, challenging way.One of our great joys of this sculpture came from the fact that it was photographed by Malek, the renowned Canadian photographer. To our knowledge, the pictures where never published, and other groups were also photographed, but it was still an honour.

To my knowledge, none of our team had ever really seen a horse, so we had a lot to learn. But, once you learn some basics, and then map everything out, it's fairly straightforward. We ended up doing a lot of planning, not only trying to get the muscles right, but also having to figure out how we could reconcile the structural requirements with the look of a horse. It meant we had to stick to a fairly static composition, but better to play it safe when you only get one shot.Originally, I had wanted to put a little more umph into it by having him on three legs, but some cracking started to occur in that very leg during assembly, indicating to us that there was indeed too much stress there to remove it. Pity, it would have been much more dynamic with a raised leg.The whole first day was spent on assembling pre-formed ice casts which were essentially ice 2x4s. They gave us the structure on which to build. Design, infrastructure, shape, carve. Sounds easy, doesn't it? It isn't rocket science. You learn a lot by doing and feeling and rebuilding.

Stopping for a team photo

The White Knight was created in January, 1994 on Dow's Lake, Ottawa. The sculpture won third prize in the general public category and also won the People's Choice Award for best of the competition.





Click to view the "White Knight" photo gallery

Daily Updates

Note: These daily records were not taken at the time the sculpture was being created. Notes for calendars, receipts and record books have been examined to re-create the events leading up to and involving the creation of this sculpture.

94/01/17 - Called around to see if there's interest in trying this whole sculpture thing again... Dave Fong and Andrew Henkelman seem keen.

94/01/23 - Did some sketches for the snow sculpture today.

94/01/28 - Begin sculpture with Andrew. Rained as we began to build the base. Go home and redraw plans to get man off of the horse - too warm to sustain that kind of weight.

94/01/30 - Very sore today. Very sore, fingers sharp pain, worry of frostbite, many pulled muscles, sore throat. Good feelings too though. All pleased with early success. New innovations, progress. Hopeful of outcome. Tonia and Mike Ferris came out for moral support. Grant and Andrew come to work. Would like more friends to visit but getting by on good wishes from strangers. If I live through this week, I'll be proud of the sculpture and the involvement of all my friends.

94/01/31 - Fingers blistering and painful, swelled, sore to touch. Body aches. Sculpture goes slow but well. (Working night shift at work the out to sculpt during daylight hours).

94/02/01 - News crews drove to ours and stopped, photographers wanted pictures, The Carleton paper offered us the front page if we'd work on the ass of the horse. Turned them down. Proud of the mighty beast (she is quite massive). Worry that the man will take away from the beauty and simplicity of the horse. Pray continually that she doesn't topple to the ground.

The finished sculpture from behind

94/02/02 - I feel so afraid for that sculpture. Hardest part of each day is the walk to the site and straining to see if it's still standing. You just never know. This is a new science to us, and frankly we're guessing. Educated guesses, but guesses nonetheless.

94/02/03 - Strangely nervous still on these final days. Intensely proud of what we've accomplished. I've not seen anything else like it made of snow. Realize these are great moments only after the fact. I know I will reminisce with great fondness but for now I am too tired and busy.

94/02/04 - I dropped to my knees when I first saw her in a near-finished state. The buzz around her can be intense. Everyone's talking about this horse. Malek the photographer took photos (an honour). If the sculpture fell down before judging, I would not be upset, for we had managed to accomplished what we set out to do.

94/02/05 - Confused as we took third. Disappointed a bit, but no big deal.

94/02/07 - Got a call that we won the people's choice award for the sculpture.

94/02/08 - Awards dinner. Got leftover door prizes as our award. Not terribly impressed.