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Posted 2015-01-13
Written by Janna

YK ARCC is accepting submissions from artists with an interest in developing a site-specific project for the annual Snow Castle.  We are looking for projects that examine and explore themes connected to the Winter Festival itself and/or the surrounding landscape of Great Slave Lake and Yellowknife Bay.  


This is an opportunity for artists to consider how their art practice might respond to and consider some of the environmental, cultural and the political factors of Northern Canada. 

Below is a description of the site, as well as details about the application requirements, travel, deadlines, artist schedules, responsibilities of the artist and the YK ARCC, artist fees and resources provided.

Late Call: Deadline for submissions is February 1st, 2015.


Yellowknife Bay

Extreme Climate

Every November Yellowknife Bay on Great Slave Lake becomes a bleak and frozen field of ice and snow, the gateway to a vast and rugged sub-arctic landscape. The daylight hours diminish to a mere 4 hours a day and temperatures fall to around -25 Celsius but can snap to an extreme -45. Despite this, Yellowknife Bay has become a place of community for many.


Until recently, Yellowknife Bay had been considered federal property and was patrolled and ruled by federal laws. Included in these laws is the “right to moor any registered marine vessel”. The law's definition of a marine vessel could also include floating homes, and this inspired a houseboat revolution in Yellowknife as a place of refuge for DIY homebuilders. What followed was experimental, inventive, and sometimes dangerous.  Now over two decades later there is a vibrant community of houseboaters, consisting of nearly thirty houseboats, all of which are completely unique, self-sufficient and off grid.  

The Snowcastle

Every January 1st on Yellowknife Bay, the Snowking's crew sets to work for months to build a new magnificent Snowcastle. On March 1st it becomes the venue for a month long arts festival featuring music, theater, fine arts and more. Every April, without dispute, the year's beloved Snowcastle melts away.


The Snowcastle covers approximately 4000sq/ft of space and holds up to 400 people.  The Castle itself is constructed of snow and ice and features winding corridors that lead to ice furnished rooms, a giant slide, stage, a dance floor and a cafe.

Symbolically, the Snowcastle represents a part of our inner child. It is the nostalgia of building a fortress in the snow; the freedom to build a space of one's own; the awe of working and playing with a natural resource so moldable, strong, abundant and white.

The Snow

The Snow in Yellowknife falls only a little at a time but each accumulation is kept by the cold until bbq lids are toped with over two feet of white stuff.  It is with this modest yet significant annual accumulation that the Snowcastle is built. A bobcat equipped with a power auger harvests thousands of tons of snow from the YK Bay’s ice surface.  It breaks the snow into tiny particles before blowing it into forms to freeze and bond with incredible strength.  

Reality TV

In 2013 American television producers called Animal Planet caught wind of the unique houseboat community on Yellowknife Bay.  Despite resistance from the community (including no engagement from Snowking), the tv show managed to employ enough houseboaters to start production.  The title of the show is Ice Lake Rebels and is in its first season of production.


Specifics for the selected artist

Artist Schedule

The scheduled date for completion is March 25th, 2015.  
The selected artist must complete their art works and be available (in person or by skype) to attend their art opening on this date.

Working on site

The selected artist is required to practice and install on the Snowcastle site.

Within the Snowcastle walls is "The Snow Gallery" an art gallery 16ft x10ft with a vaulted arch ceiling running length ways, a regular sized door way on one end and an ice window on the other end made completely of hard pack snow and ice.   


Snowking’s crew assist

If the artist should want, snow blocks up to 10X10 feet can be made by pouring snow into forms using a snow blower, pre-cut snow bricks for building and small-medium sized ice blocks are available.    


An indoor artist studio with sink and tables is also available at YK ARCC if the selected artist should want to work indoors as well.

*Other resource may be available upon request.

Travel and Fees

Yk Arcc is a young organization without much funding and can therefore not cover all travel related expenses (if a visiting artist) nor pay full CARFAC fees. Yk Arcc will however supply the selected participant with a letter of support and acceptance to help the applicant solicit funding or travel grants from their local Arts Councils. Yk Arcc will also offer financial support to the following level :
  • Artist fee - $1000
  • Artist talk fee - $100
  • Shipping (or extra baggage fee) -  Up to $150
  • Travel contribution – Up to $500
  Also, keep in mind that through YK ARCC networking, there is a very friendly open door artist community, making billeting a good option.

Application requirements

The following list of requirement must be submitted by email to: by: February 1st, 2015

  1. Project Proposal (500 words max)

  2. Artist CV (2 page max)

  3. Images of previous work (up to 10 images sent as jpgs or links to a website)

  4. Description of Images including title, year, medium and dimensions.

    Project Proposal

    Applicants must submit a brief description (500 words max) of their proposed project describing which of the site-specific elements and/or themes they would be exploring with their work and how they plan to do so. What is it about these themes or elements that you find interesting?  Where do you envision such an exploration going?  What mediums will you be using?  Is your work time based?  What might you require for studio space and resources?  What might you need for exhibition space and technical gear?   


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