Liv­ing Na­tional Trea­sure

Ice Sculp­tor

Country Life Every Week - - Contents - Pho­to­graph by Richard Can­non Tessa Waugh www.ices­culp­ture.co.uk

Ice sculp­tor

Peo­ple get very uptight about be­ing cold,’ muses Dun­can Hamil­ton of Hamil­ton Ice Sculp­tors, who’s sit­ting in an ice chair as we speak, ‘but, if you re­lax about it, the cold is all right.’

Mr Hamil­ton set up his com­pany more than 40 years ago, re­viv­ing a prac­tice that had all but dis­ap­peared in West­ern europe. In another life, he was a chef at high-class Lon­don restau­rants such as Mirabelle and Le Caprice, but it was when he was work­ing at The Dorch­ester that he was first asked to sculpt ice for a party.

The crafts­man be­gan slowly, cre­at­ing a few pieces here and there—he spe­cialises in clas­sic forms, such as swans and fish— but de­mand quickly grew and the com­pany’s reper­toire has since ex­panded to pro­vid­ing pieces for ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paigns, films, par­ties and large-scale out­door events. In­deed, Mr Hamil­ton’s client list reads like a Who’s Who of world su­per­brands from Coca Cola and Mi­crosoft to the Royal Fam­ily and pop­stars such as Justin Tim­ber­lake and Bey­oncé.

‘We be­gin by rough­ing out the de­sign at room tem­per­a­ture, be­fore com­plet­ing the fine work in a freezer,’ ex­plains Mr Hamil­ton. ‘Ice is such a beau­ti­ful ma­te­rial to work with and so for­giv­ing. We tend to em­ploy sculp­tors who are used to stone and clay, but they’re al­ways equally happy work­ing with ice.’

The com­pany has re­cently com­pleted its sev­enth Win­ter Won­der­land scene in Lon­don’s Hyde park, a vast pro­ject in­volv­ing 500 tons of ice and snow, where this year’s wood­land theme—fea­tur­ing uni­corns, fauns and wolves—is the cul­mi­na­tion of eight months’ plan­ning.

The com­pany may now be headed by his son Jamie, but Mr Hamil­ton is still very much in­volved. ‘No one re­tires these days and I love what I do,’ he notes with a smile.

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