The people behind the ice

By | Travel
"Mind the Gap" Ice bedroom, 2014. credit@gemma_IceBedroom

Jukkasjӓrvi, a remote village located 200km north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden, is a land of contrasts. In winter, temperatures drop to minus 40 degrees Celsius and the magical aurora, also known as the northern lights, creates a panoramic light across the winter sky. In summer, the intense sun burns for 100 days and nights without setting. This is home to the Ice Hotel- a remarkable and unique art project and hotel made of entirely ice and snow- rebuilt each year on the Jukkasjӓrvi river-bank.

The ice on the river (known as the Torne River) turns into art, design and architecture that then become narratives of people and travellers around the world. Due to warmer weather, the melting period in April and May sees the Ice Hotel melt away in the River Torne. This means in November, a new incarnation of the hotel is built each year (from ice blocks collected during the winter months and stored throughout the summer), so like a snowflake, each hotel is unique. Hundreds of travellers head to Jukkasjӓrvi in winter months to see, and sometimes spend a night, in the Ice Hotel. The 2014 hotel, which has now melted, was a total of 5,500 square metres, which formed 65 rooms, 15 hand-crafted ice art-suites, an ice bar, an ice reception and an ice church.

Drinks served in ice glasses in the Ice Bar. credit@gemma_IceBar.

Drinks served in ice glasses in the Ice Bar. credit@gemma_IceBar.

Dedication, determination and patience is behind the making of the Ice Hotel each year, and 2014 involved just as much. A hundred people – builders, artists and light engineers- came together to create the hotel that thousands travel across the world to see. So who are these imaginative, creative and devoted people behind the twenty-forth rendition?

As each hotel is unique, artists base ideas on events that will be a reflection of that year. The design of the reception was therefore centred on the 2014 FIFA World Cup that is taking place in Brazil this summer. It was overseen by Brazil’s most famous street artist, Speto, and Arne Bergh, Creative Director at the Ice Hotel. Speto imprinted the World Cup logo, the sun and the football into the ice walls to aim to unite the world with its daily international visitors.

The art-suites are the luxury, top of the range ice bedrooms in the hotel. They are created by artists from all over the world who want to share their personal interpretations.  Each suite is designed by one or two artists and is then given a name based on the story behind it. The artists of “Mind the Gap”, a bedroom in the shape of a London Underground carriage, aimed to place an icon of urban life in a wilderness environment. The artists aimed to question our increasingly urbanised life-style.

An ice art-suite in the 2014 Ice Hotel. credit@gemma_IceBedroom.

An ice art-suite in the 2014 Ice Hotel. credit@gemma_IceBedroom.

Other artists were more playful in nature, which is seen in the room “Pole Dancing”. Ice poles, dancing ice polar bears and glittering ice disco balls were the centrepieces of the room. Light engineers worked alongside the artists to create atmospheric blue lighting, replicating that of a night club. The artists of this room were mother and daughter and both wanted to create an art-suite that would make people smile.

The people of Jukkasjӓrvi and the nearby city Kiruna (Sweden’s northernmost city) are proud of the Ice Hotel they see come and go each year. Living in such a vast area of untouched nature, the people feel a connection to the Torne River as it is part of everyday life. They are passionate about the Ice Hotel and its production and some locals even help with the process of ice storing throughout the summer months. Although the artwork lasts only a few months, compared with the years of planning beforehand, it is seen by thousands and leaves travellers with a lasting impression of their artwork.

What would be your inspirational artwork?

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