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Finland architect's striking ephemeral lake art returns this winter

This is the sixth year the designer has spent hours creating these distinctive designs
This is the sixth year the designer has spent hours creating these distinctive designs   -   Copyright  AP
By Shannon McDonagh  with AP

Snow angels are enough excitement for some of us, but some need to go the extra mile.

This architect in southern Finland journeys to a frozen lake with a snow shovel every year to create bold, brilliant animal artworks visible from a birdseye view.

This year, Pasi Widgren drew a fox that measures about 90 metres (295 feet) on Lake Pitkajarvi, north of Helsinki.

In previous years, he used a shovel to sketch a bear and an owl, always using the same lake as his canvas.

He hopes the artwork will "make people happy and encourage them to go out to hike in beautiful nature.”

Widgren has drawn animals on local lakes every winter since 2016 near his home in a village not far from Lahti, a town of 120,000. The drawings disappear when more snow falls or when the ice melts.

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The sleek designs look as though they've been carved there foreverAP

How do you create such big, beautiful drawings in the ice?

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The lines and curves on Widgren's fox are highlighted as the sun setsAP

The idea for the ephemeral art came “suddenly a couple of years ago when I realized I may have a special ability of coordination to do this kind of things myself,” says the 40-year-old.

When he reached Lake Pitkajarvi this month, he tested the thickness of the nice to make sure it was dense enough to walk and work on. At 10-15 centimetres (4-6 inches) thick, it was.

“Of course, I had ice awls with me, around my neck,” in case the ice cracked and he had to rescue himself.

“Then I sketched the contours of the figure by walking and thinking it to match my image of the fox at the same time and then I started to ‘draw’ by using (the) snow shovel,” he explained.

Four hours later, Widgren was done.

“I walked to the top of the cliffs” 45 metres (about 150 feet) above the lake “to look at the end result, drank coffee from my thermos bottle and took some photos and videos as a memory of doing this.”

The fox was less visible by Monday because it has snowed a little, Widgren said.

And that's okay. He expects that nothing he creates should ever leave a lasting impact on the world around him.