Azuma Makoto’s Temporary Sculptures Freeze Hundreds of Flowers on a Snow-Coated Lake
On a frozen lake in the Notsuke Peninsula, a tendril of land that juts out from Hokkaido’s east coast, acclaimed floral artist Azuma Makoto (previously) has constructed the third botanical sculpture in an ongoing series called Frozen Flowers. The first edition was composed in this same location in 2019 and again in 2021, and every year, the conditions have been a little bit different. The artist is interested in how variables like temperature, wind, or snowfall can alter the surrounding environment and make every version unique.
An important facet of Makoto’s practice is working alongside and adapting to nature and striking a collaborative balance so that he’s neither trying to control it nor controlled by it. Arranged on a scaffold and surrounded by a field of snow, bunches of flowers and foliage in a range of colors and textures are doused with water before they solidify into thousands of icicles. The artist and a team of assistants worked through the night, waiting until temperatures were at their lowest so that the ice would form quickly. The following morning, the sun revealed the finished composition, and by design, ultimately melted it.
Through the seasons, Makoto sees how the area transforms and over time has witnessed the effects of climate change on the peninsula. He aims to continue installing new versions of the icy blooms for years to come in order to document the ever-evolving environment. Find more of his work on his website and on Instagram.
Share this story
Strong Winds Sculpt Frozen Sand into Otherworldly Pillars on a Lake Michigan Beach
Last weekend in St. Joseph, Michigan, tall layered pedestals and sloping tables sprung up from the otherwise calm Tiscornia Park Beach, turning the lakeside vista into a strange, otherworldly environment. Photographer Joshua Nowicki (previously) captured the ice-laden phenomenon, which is caused by powerful winds eroding frozen sand and carving dozens of towering shapes haphazardly placed along the shore.
The unearthly constructions, which look like miniature hoodoos, arise periodically during Great Lakes winters, although Nowicki says these 15-inch formations are some of the tallest he’s stumbled upon. “They do not last very long (usually only a couple of days). The wind completely erodes them or knocks them down. If the temperature goes up above freezing they crumble, and often in the winter, they soon get covered by drifting snow,” he shares.
Find more of Nowicki’s photos documenting the sights of the Midwest’s infamously frigid season on Instagram.
Share this story
A Kind Pine Cone Helps an Elderly Man Survive a Cold Winter in a Heartwarming Stop-Motion Animation
Sometimes help comes from unexpected sources, especially when you need it most. That’s the central message behind a heartfelt stop-motion short written, directed, and animated by Dunedin, New Zealand-based Claire Campbell. “Winter’s Blight” follows an elderly man named Bill, who struggles to heat his home during a harsh cold spell. After he runs out of wood entirely, he’s forced to chop down the lone evergreen still standing in his yard, only to encounter an enthusiastic pine cone that begs him to stop.
Produced by Jon Wilson of Shine on Films with music by Hanan Townshend, the animation took more than five years to complete and is replete with meticulously crafted details, like Bill’s hand-knit sweaters and an elaborate set built true to scale. Watch this making-of video and check out Campbell’s Instagram for a behind-the-scenes look at how it came together.
Share this story
Black and White Photographs Capture the Striking Appearance of Bare Trees Against Snow-Filled Landscapes
Swiss photographer Pierre Pellegrini is drawn to remote landscapes dotted by tree groves, snow-topped piers, and structures that have fallen into a state of disarray. Long exposure photographs force Pellegrini to sit quietly with these scenes, meditatively taking in the high contrast landscape as his camera processes the deep blacks and brilliant whites that emerge in the dead of winter. “I simply photograph what I feel, and am always looking for moments and situations where everything is in its place,” he explains to Colossal. “I try to find a sort of harmony between what I see and what I feel.” You can see more of his square format black and white photographs on Instagram.
Share this story
New Ceramics by Heesoo Lee Capture the Ephemeral Beauty of Seasonal Woodlands
Artist Heesoo Lee (previously) uses multi-layered techniques to form intricate trees, complete with leaves and branches, that seem to grow out of her functional ceramic vessels. Lee’s careful use of color establishes a seasonal mood in each of her works, some evoking the warm tones and fallen leaves of autumn, while others capture the barren beauty of winter. Each woodland scene is drawn from Lee’s imagination. The artist shares that she happened upon her current style of work by chance: her background is as a painter, and she used clay more as a smooth canvas until one day she was working on a tight deadline and was attempting to repair a broken pot, which inspired her to build three-dimensionally.
Lee explains that she uses translucent porcelain because its “beautiful clarity and color and is the perfect canvas for the bright underglaze and glazes I use.” The artist begins by forming each tree individually, starting with the closest and largest trees as she builds perspective by filling in the background with progressively smaller trunks, each of which is individually formed with a clay coil. Next, for her non-wintry pieces, each leaf is individually formed and applied to create the dense foliage that further increases the sense of depth on the surface of her ceramics. After an initial firing, Lee applies colored details using painted underglaze, which must be applied without overlapping different glazes to prevent discoloration after firing. Lastly, she chooses from a range of finishing glazes, selected depending on the desired effect, like an icy blue vernal pool or clearly defined leaves.
Lee shares that she first came to the United States, looking for freedom and adventure and with little knowledge of English, first living in Berkeley, California. She started re-exploring ceramics outside of the strictures of traditional Korean ceramics, rediscovering her love of the tactile medium after studying painting in college. Lee has been a working artist alongside her partner, a fellow ceramic artist for many years, and cites her time in residence at the Archie Bray Foundation as a seminal experience:
My work, mostly in medium-range porcelain, expanded beyond painted surfaces, my mainstay for many years. I pushed my work beyond the motifs I had been using for many years–flowers, mostly–and built larger than I had before. I was inspired by my children, the landscape of the places where I lived, and my own childhood in Korea, and reflected these themes in my work. I found that working in a place like the Bray, surrounded by other artists who created a supportive, inviting, and welcoming community, gave me the freedom to grow as an artist.
Lee lives and works in Helena, Montana, where she has a home studio and kiln. You can see more of Lee’s in-progress and finished work on Instagram, and she also keeps her Etsy shop updated with new pieces available for purchase.
Share this story
Frozen Landscapes Tell a Winter’s Tale in New Photographs by Kilian Schönberger
German photographer Kilian Schönberger (previously) is known for capturing otherworldly images of his natural surroundings. His latest series, Winter’s Tale, was shot in the mountain ranges of Germany and central Europe and showcases the desaturated, hushed landscapes of snow-covered forests. Schönberger describes the mystical quality of his Winter’s Tale series: “Winter was the time when tales and legends were told at home, the whole family sitting around the tiled stove. The mystic figures are just waiting in front of the doorstep, snow and frost seem to make trees alive.”
The photographer shares with Colossal that challenging conditions are part of the game when shooting outdoors during the winter. Schönberger treks in with snowshoes or cross country skis, and sometimes waits two hours or more in frigid temperatures for the right shot, while battling shortened battery life and fickle sunlight that is needed to illuminate a scene without melting delicate frost. In addition to his Behance portfolio, you can see more of Schönberger’s work on his website and Instagram.
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Animation
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.