Hans Englund’s snow sculptures in Luleå’s city park have created a great amount of joy for both young and old. After 30 years, the last animal has been created.

It began when Hans Englund was 17 years old. A summer job for Luleå park management waited and before him he saw a few weeks of cutting grass. Little did he know that it would lead to a full-time job and 30 ice animal sculptures. But the creative feelings had always been there. As a child he could frequently be found with his nose in coloring books and his interest grew stronger with the years. Something that Hans’ former boss took advantage of.

“I had showed him some pictures and he then came up with a slightly different request.”

A request that led to the city park in Luleå annually being visited by a new sculpted ice animal for 30 years. Hans had never before sculpted in ice, but took on the work with honor.

“I had only played in the snow when I was little, nothing else. So it was a challenge.”

Hans tried simply mixing water and snow into a batter and then stirring, shaping and tweaking. After a few weeks it was completed, a full sized bear that was placed on the pedestrian street in Luleå.

“The next year we got a little more playful and made a slide. Then we started to make animals of a larger size, and moved them to the city park.”

Every year the ice animal, weighing between ten and fifteen tons, is visited by large and small with joy riding on its icy back. With the exception of a few sculptures over the years, it is Norrbotten’s regional fauna that has been portrayed by Hans Englund, Juha Palosaari and Urban Larsson. Being a one-man team became a distant memory as the work grew in size. However, there is also a downside to the profession as an ice sculptor.

The pain in his hands is now so evident that Hans can no longer ignore it.

“Let me put it this way, I have wrung out many pairs of gloves over the years, filled with icy cold water. I have long felt that it is time to retire but it has not happened. Now it felt like it was time to quit
in connection with the 30th animal taking its place. But of course it feels a bit sad, it actually does.”

His final creation was the beaver, Beatris (Beatrice), and family. Now he will change jobs and continue sculpting on a smaller scale.

“The response and commitment of Luleå residents has been absolutely overwhelming. I feel privileged to have been entrusted. It has been an incredibly enjoyable work experience".

Ice animals

1986 Rooster
1987 Cat
1988 Seal
1989 Eagle Owl
1990 Bullfinch
1991 Great Tit
1992 Squirrel
1993 Woodpecker
1994 Fox
1995 Bear
1996 Wolf
1997 Moose
1998 Lynx
1999 Hare
2000 Eagle
2001 Arctic Fox
2002 Wood Grouse
2003 Ermine
2004 Wolverine
2005 Siberian Jay
2006 Reindeer
2007 Salmon
2008 Lemming
2009 Otter
2010 Grouse
2011 Pig
2012 Frog
2013 White-backed Woodpecker
2014 Hedgehog
2015 Beaver.

Text: Vanessa Cicero

Photo: Fredrik Broman