After the Snowfall, Snow Art Delights

  • Baseera Rafiqi
  • Publish Date: Jan 19 2017 6:02PM
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  • Updated Date: Jan 19 2017 6:02PM
After the Snowfall, Snow Art Delights

                                                           Photo: Social Media/ KI

       Talented youth used the recent snowfall to sculpt and display their snow art works 


The recent snowfall had much more than snow in store for the people. A thick, white film of snow covering the mountains, gardens and by-lanes came as a breather for the entire valley, ending the longest dry spell in recent times. The white blanket of snow spread happiness among people, for a while making them forget the past, bloody summer.

As the snow gathered everywhere, children came out to play and enjoy the snow. They also made snowballs and indulging in friendly snow fights. People shaped dolphins, Shikaras, cakes, elephants and other imaginable shapes and designs out of the accumulated snow. A new wave of self-proclaimed artists emerged from everywhere to try their hands at snow art and showcase their talent. Braving the cold, they shovelled the snow, delicately crafting art pieces which were appreciated widely after their photos began to spread on the social media.

Every year, Adil Mubeen Mir, 45, an artist from Natipora area of Srinagar, waits for the snowfall. “I am an artist and I have been doing it since a long time now. I have always been into 3D art and nature has been an inspiration for me,” says Mir. “These days I am working on making a dolphin out of snow,” he says as a crowd gathers to have a look at his snow art piece. A couple of years ago, he made a colored hen out of snow.

The younger generation is also trying to add little variations to the existing snow sculpture. They have come up with interesting and innovative snow art ideas. 

Andleeb Majeed, an engineering student, worked on her snow art piece for many hours in the cold. “I love winters more than summers and I couldn’t resist when I saw a thick blanket of white snow cover in my garden,” she says. “I gathered huge pile of snow, with no idea what to do but my hands kept going and I ended up making a three-tier cake with simple things available at home.”

From the interiors of the city to the far flung off areas in mountainous districts, the photos of unique snow art works were shared widely on social media after the snowfall.

“In times like these, when the world is globally connected through internet our kids also learned new ways to showcase their snow art works,” says noted poet Zareef Ahmad Zareef. “Technology helped them to do variations in the existing model of the snowman and now we can see different things coming out of the same snow, from ducks to cars to shikaras.”

Zareef says he would like to see annual events and competitions to appreciate the talent behind these snow art works. In future, he said, snow art competitions should be held and the best artists rewarded for their best works.

Aqsa Malik, a student of Islamia College of Science and Commerce, also ventured out to do some experimenting with snow and ended up building a shikara, which she says is the true representation of Kashmir. “This year I had decided not to make the old fashioned snowman, so I made what I love the most – shikara,” she says. “My brother and I are fond of shikara rides and we decided to try our hands at it.” 

Abdul Basit Parrey started making snow art work in 2011. He believes he was among the first few people who realized the potential of snow art form in Kashmir. He began by shaping a lump of snow near his window into a crocodile.

“Snow dropping down from the roof had accumulated on the floor and it had made a shape. I gave it a little nudge and I was able to make a crocodile out of it,” says Basit.  “And since then I have been making various things out of snow.” 

Snow artistry, however, is yet to be explored to its fullest potential. Senior artist Masood Hussain says it’s a good thing that people are experimenting with snow in Kashmir. “It speaks about the taste for art among people,” he says, adding that there are festivals in Japan, America, and Europe that showcase snow art works. “There they make it a huge event and artists from across the world exhibit their works and lots of people come to see and appreciate their work.”  He says in Kashmir there is lack of exposure and proper funding, “but we can make it a regular feature.” 

Snow has been an integral part of Kashmiri lifestyle for ages. Zareef Ahmad Zareef believes that the art form is as old as snowfall itself. “It dates back to the written history of people in the Valley. Since the inception of winters, children have been playing with snow,” says Zareef. “It was not that refined back then and limited to gathering of snow in huge balls called Sheen mayen. Every locality would accumulate snow in the form of huge spheres and it used to be a store for rest of the days. It was a way to clear up the land for use,” he adds.

Zareef says in the past huge snowballs at every other corner were given some shapes, preferably of their oppressors. “Children were asked to give shapes to this mass of snow. It was either in the shape of a policeman in cities or a Mukdam in villages. It had a face of their oppressor and it was a way of showing their anger,” says Zareef.

Some people have also taken up snow sculpting as a profession, and are excelling in it. Zahoor Din Lone, 29, a Jamia Milia Fines Arts graduate, who is participating in the upcoming Snow Sculpture Championship (SSC), believes that this form of art has tremendous scope provided some attention is paid. Lone will head a four member team that will be participating in the 27th SSC championship in USA on 21st January.

“It’s an art form at the international level and there have been competitions going on since past three decades. It’s very unfortunate that we came to know about it at a very late stage,” says Lone, adding that the medium of snow, readily available to us, can be put to artistic use as well. “We can train people and get our art recognized at the global level if the government and the concerned authorities take a serious note of it,” he says.

Lone believes snow art form has a bright future if taken up at the state level. “Snow artistry is such a unique and interesting form of art and our State can provide the best platform to avail this natural yet beautiful craftsmanship,” he says. “We can cash on this opportunity and turn the Valley into a beautiful artifact made of snow.” 

Events that can help talented youth to portray their skills are being organized by the state tourism department as a small step forward in this direction.  “We are seeing different kinds of things made out of snow,” says Naushad H Gayoor, who teaches Fine Arts at the University of Kashmir.  “We organized an event in 2014 and this year too we are planning to have another event in Gulmarg. We did it on a big scale back then and this year we are planning it with our students and faculty from outside the state.”