Pierre Thibault

Winter gardens

Quebec, Canada

December 2003
The jury was entranced by the simplicity and power of Pierre Thibaults Winter Gardens, a land art (or rather ice art) piece on a frozen lake in the wastelands of the Canadian winter. Flat and almost featureless, the smooth lake was dusted by a fine layer of snow that swirled in the wind in front of the jagged skyline of distant dark mountains.
Thibault made a line in the ice, and in it he put 1000 candles. It was a powerful conjunction of ice and fire. The candles became an increasingly closely connected chain, linked by perspective, and becoming ever more powerful in the darkness of the forest land. Humans made a mark without destroying nature, enhancing it by making a Euclidean statement on the raw wilderness, which made its mysteries more awesome, and gave it dimension, direction, making it comprehensible. The ice glowed for a night, its primeval nature enhanced by fire. Close up, the work was clearly an artefact. Further away, its glowing line became part of the landscape in a way that Louis XIV would have appreciated. But he never had the gentleness, nor the humility in the face of the awesome power of nature that Thibaults transient moment celebrated.
Thibault was highly commended for his ice palace in Quebec in the ar+ d awards 2000 (AR December 2000). That was for a sparkling ice building, fine, but a translucent imitation in frozen water of what we do everyday in masonry. Here on the lake, and only for one night, he conjured the elements to make magic.

Pierre Thibault, Quebec
Project team
Pierre Thibault, Vadim Siegel, Charles Ferland, Katerine McKinnon, Jean-François Mercier