British artist uses snow as canvas for massive geometrical designs

By Thomas Peipert, Associated Press reporter

A British artist has said he hopes the spectacular designs he created in the snow in America’s Rocky Mountains will make people more aware of the environment.

Simon Beck carefully plotted his course before shuffling through a windswept snowfield high in the mountains.

Using a compass, snowshoes and his background as a cartographer and competitive orienteer, the 61-year-old Briton and a handful of volunteers recently tromped across a frozen reservoir near the ski resort town of Silverthorne, west of Denver, to create a massive, geometrical design on a fresh canvas of snow.

The result after more than a dozen hours of labour in freezing weather and under an unrelenting sun was a spectacular spiral pattern the length of about two football fields.

British artist Simon Beck rests after completing a large geometrical design in the snow (Thomas Peipert/AP)

“I hope it makes people more aware of the snow and the environment and the beauty of it and how we need snow,” Mr Beck said after completing the drawing. “And I think it’s a really beautiful and unique art form.”

He finished his day with high fives from his volunteers and congratulations from people who gathered on a nearby hillside to watch his progress.

But it has not always gone this smoothly. It’s never clear how many workers will show up and if bad weather rolls in, an intricate piece of art can quickly disappear.

“It’s very frustrating when you plod around for hours and hours and hours and then the wind blows it away before you’ve finished it,” he said.

Simon Beck used snowshoes to create a massive geometrical design (Thomas Peipert/AP)

Mr Beck started making fractal drawings in snow in 2004 outside his winter home at France’s Les Arcs ski resort when he trampled out a five-pointed star spanning more than 300 feet “just for a bit of fun”.

He did not realise how good it looked until he rode a ski lift the next day and saw it from above.

“Snow drawing, which to me seems like a fairly obvious idea, was not something anyone else had ever done as far as I could tell, and I was really surprised by that,” he said.

He has completed about 330 snow drawings and 120 in sand, and has set a goal of 1,000 total drawings by the time he is 80. His drawings are commissioned around the world.