There was once a Little White Fox that had a secret mission given to him by Mrs Claus that the whole of Christmas depended upon. Santa Claus had already set on his way but had forgotten one very important thing that meant that all the children of the world would get no presents...
Thus begins a very special Christmas story which will be brought stunningly to life in central Bradford this weekend, thanks to the talents of artist Jamie Wardley.
Bradford-based Wardley is a renowned sand artist responsible for some amazing works of art – a giant bust of Charles Darwin for Centenary Square, a recreation of the Himalayas in sand, and sand drawings on the Normandy beaches to commemorate D-Day.
His company, Sandinyoureye, has expanded from their original sandy brief to incorporate other media, including a giant pumpkin carving at Halloween and ice sculptures, which form the basis of this latest innovative project.
From Saturday morning at 8am, Wardley and his team will set up in the City Park in Bradford city centre where they will, at 11am, unveil a series of nine ice sculptures which tell the story of the Little White Fox in Have You Seen Santa?
The story has been written by Wardley himself, and follows the adventures of the fox who is entrusted by Mrs Claus with a very important mission – delivering an important envelope to Santa which must be handed over to save Christmas itself. The only problem is, on the way he meets lots of animals who, he has been told, love to eat little white foxes.
Wardley says: “The story is a comment upon prejudice and tolerance. The Little White Fox is tolerant of all the animals he meets even though he has been told that they like to eat Little White Foxes, and it is only because of this that he fulfils his mission.”
On his journey Little White Fox meets a polar bear, a reindeer, a snow leopard, and a snowy owl, encounters all magnificently captured in ice.
The story was written specifically with the multicultural city of Bradford in mind where Jamie Wardley grew up as well as his travels abroad that opened up opportunities of becoming a sand and ice sculptor through meeting very different types of people.
The sculptures that tell the story along the trail have been created by Wardley and Andy Moss in the Sand In Your Eye ice studio in Bradford, which is kept at a constant -12 degrees. It took the pair 18 days to sculpt the nine dioramas that illustrate key points in the story, funded by Bradford Council.
Wardley says: “Ice sculptures are made from crystal clear blocks of ice that are carved with chainsaws to make the basic shape and then razor sharp chisels to make the details. Ice sculptures last for as long as it is below zero and eventually melt away creating wonderful shapes as they do so. The Little White Fox is made from ice that has bubbles in it which makes him appear more white than the other animals.”
There will also be a live ice sculpting demonstration at 10am, the unveiling of the other sculptures at 11am, with readings of the story by Mrs Claus herself at 1pm.
There will also be a theatre performance in the Fabric pop-up gallery at 2pm, brass band music at 3pm and the completion of the “live” ice sculpture at around 4pm, giving a full day of entertainment.
Wardley says: “Free Christmas cards of the sculptures will be handed out and people can enter a Facebook competition for the most ‘liked’ photo uploaded to the Sandinyoureye page. The prize will be one of the original pieces of artwork from the ice sculpture trail.”
Wardley discovered his talent during a chance encounter with a sand sculptor Daneel Foyer whilst on holiday in Norway in 1998. He then started to carve professionally in sand around Europe in 2003. In 2004 Jamie tried ice sculpture for the first time during an International competition in Finland and won first prize. Jamie established Sandinyoureye in 2005.
In 2007 Sandinyoureye developed ‘Sand Drawing’ and in 2010 made the largest beach drawing in the world and in 2011 the largest animation using sand drawings with Aardman animation, creators of Wallace and Gromit.
“Run Little White Fox, take this envelope to Santa and keep it safely tucked into your deep fur coat, you must save Christmas! But beware of the Polar Bear, he has gigantic powerful paws and I’ve been told that he likes to eat little foxes!” What happens next? Ah, you’ll have to wait until Saturday to find out...