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A competition without consequence- Tourism sponsored Snow sculpting competition at Gulmarg makes mockery of artists, students of art

A few days ago, JK tourism Department announced a ‘snow Sculpting Competition’ to be held in Gulmarg and invited artists, students to take part in the event. The art fraternity, having already very little avenues and meagre occasions to celebrate here in Kashmir, jumped to the invite and began their week-long tryst with snow in the sub-zero temperature. The ambitious artists knew that it was not going to be easy for them as they had to work with very little tools at hand- since such competitions aren’t very common here- and embarked upon this journey with warm feelings and fresh hopes. They would have thought that- finally- the tourism department had begun to acknowledge the existence of artists and given them a chance to create something for tourists to see and remember. But their ambitions and their hopes came to a screeching halt when, after completing the snow sculptures, all the teams of artists waited for the judges to turn up and they didn’t. It wasn’t a pleasant thing and rather portrayed the amount of non-seriousness the department had shown with regards to the artists and their art work. One is amazed to see the amount of deprecating attitude of tourism department with the artists who were waiting for the judges to arrive and see their work and nobody turned up. Well, call it irony or a paradox- the award for this definitely goes to the tourism department.

Here are the views expressed by some of the participants and judges (from the art fraternity):

Ill planned, badly executed, ill equipped- tourism deptt. will have to learn a thing or two

I recently participated in snow sculpture competition which was held at Gulmarg. It was organised by JK Tourism. It was my first experience to work with the medium and I was overwhelmed by the thought of it. But, as we proceeded, we found that there were many loopholes from the organizer’s side. The program was mandated to be conducted in just 4 days in which arrival as well as exit days were counted. Technically, it was just two days of work and anyone in the world will not design such a programme where artists are given just two days to come up with snow sculptures. It is a joke and the joke is definitely on tourism department which, having exposure to winter destinations across the globe and having a good know-how of snow sculpting should have planned it well.

Anyways, we are Kashmiri artists and know full well that in Kashmir we don’t have even a single platform to showcase our works and therefore we shouldn’t expect any better deals from tourism or any other department.

And adding to this displeasure, the arrangement for such competition was not up to the mark. The blocks through which we had to carve out the sculpture were not ready and due to this many of us were only left with one day to work. Many of us were new to such experience and would have loved it to be an art camp rather than a competition. But unfortunately it neither remained a competition nor a camp in the end as the work produced by the artists was seen by the artists alone and no official came to see or judge the work.

But we did our best and created our art piece in just one day. It was very challenging and I am proud of whole team that, to some extent, we did beyond our expectations. And the interaction we had with the senior artists was very helpful and informative. I personally feel such events will help the budding artists to showcase their talent and also it will open new door provided that ‘tourism’ isn’t written on that door.

Mehak Mubeen Qadri

Final year student of Applied arts at IMFA Kashmir University

Tourism Department keeps its date with traditional insensitivity towards art

The snow sculpting competition 2021 saw thirty artists from all over Kashmir coming together in teams and performing to the best of their capabilities. The worst of it was that the ambitious artists were not backed up by a well planned event and the department of tourism showed its insensitivity not just about the event and the artists but towards ‘art’ in general. This is what has been traditionally happening in Kashmir- artists are good people, but what do they do? A common question that we often have to answer- the departments have never paid due regards to the artists and never wanted to engage them as learned creators who have invested everything in the study of art.

The material required for snow sculpting competition was missing and the time frame for it was too short. Out of four days, artists got only three days to work on their blocks as they had to count the day they reached the venue. Moreover, few of the participants could not even start the work due to the unavailability of the snow blocks on which they could have brought their handmade sketches to life. It therefore was neither a competition nor any appreciation for art work.

It was unfortunate for the artists that none from the tourism department paid a visit to see the art work until it started snowing again on the third day.  Artists had to vacate the accommodation provided to them without completing the event as tourism stayed away from the scene until the scene was buried under fresh snow.

Fiza Yousuf Zargar, 2nd year painting student.

Too time constrained- an event of this nature needed better planning

I recently participated in snow sculpture competition held at Gulmarg which was organised by JK Tourism Department. It was my first experience taking part in such kind of a competition. The program was conducted in 4 days in which the department included the day of reaching and coming back from the venue. So actually it was a two day affair for the artists to work on the sculptures. The blocks through which we had to carve out the sculpture were not ready, other material support was not provided and the entire activity was conducted in a hush-hush manner having no regard for art or the artists. The tourism department may have blown it out of proportion on the papers, but in reality it was a badly planned event and could have been done in a much better way.

Irtiqa Bazaz, Applied Arts, 2nd year at IMFA Kashmir University

Need better planned events in future

It has always been a privilege to be a student of fine arts as I am following my passion and doing what i love to do. Unfortunately, Art is extremely under-appreciated in Kashmir valley and at times people do not even understand what it is. Recently a snow sculpting competition was organised by JK tourism, which was first of its kind and, like all other participants, I was very excited to be a part of such an innovative competition and I’ve never experienced anything quite like this before. Though I wouldn’t hesitate to say that I enjoyed the work and the company of my fellow students as well as seniors, the event however was plagued with serious drawbacks from the organisers (Deptt. Tourism) side.

The competition was to last for 4days including the day of our arrival and departure. So, basically, we had only two days for creating the snow sculptures. The tools which were required by the competitor’s were not ready due to which we were not able to create what we desired. So, it didn’t look like a competition at all. But, inspite of all the shortcomings, we did our best and created beautiful pieces of art. I personally feel that competitions like this, with proper arrangements, should be held every year in Kashmir as these are the events necessary to motivate young artists and help them to develop creative skills.

Beenish Geelani, student of Applied Arts

For internationalizing snow sculpting in Kashmir, we need better plans

I am a snow sculpture artist and have had the privilege to be the captain of the first ever International Snow Sculpture team from South Asia to represent India in United States. Today, I am here attending this snow sculpture competition as a jury. I believe snow sculpting is such a form of art that works with a natural medium-snow- which has no wastage neither any pollution. It is a different medium of art as compared to other artistic mediums. However snow sculpture is not a matter of two or three days. This is a different process. First you have to make a snow block, then have to compress it. Then you have to keep the compressed snow block on freezing before you begin carving on it.

It is good that the tourism development started this snow event. But the blocks were not properly processed neither artists were given appropriate time to work on them. We started this snow sculpture art in 2014 with the intention to provide platform to artists and add another attraction for tourists in Kashmir during winters. Team Callisto with the support of E-Planner (event management) in collaboration with tourism department attempted a mega snow sculpture camp with nearly 30 snow blocks. We carved artistically these blocks to showcase Kashmiri culture and tradition and the show was mega hit. It attracted lot of national & international media attention besides visitors also found it exciting.

I was trying to internationalise this attempt of snow art by attracting international snow Sculpture artists but unfortunately lack of support from the concerned department discourages any such ambition. I believe tourism department can be of great support in promoting this snow adventure activity which in return is significant for J&K tourism.


The four day long snow sculpture competition organised by tourism department could have been better. Tourism failed to manage the event as the first day of the competition was lost to travel and artists reached the venue in the evening and could not start their work. Even on the second day of the competition, Tourism Department failed to provide enough snow blocks for participating artists to work on and among 32 artists only half got their blocks and others were left wondering.

It was only on the day 3rd of competition that tourism department managed to provide snow blocks to all artists and artists began sculpting. Despite all the problems faced by artists they managed to carve amazing snow sculptures attracting visitors- local as well as tourists from others parts of India- although the sculptures were not yet complete. On the fourth and final day, artists faced yet another obstacle the fresh snowfall had covered all the sculptures and as some artists started to repair and remove fresh snow from their sculptures, Tourism Department, instead of extending the competition,  declared ‘pack-up’ even before lunch.

In the whole event, artists barely got a day and a half to work and hence not a single sculpture was completed and the unfinished sculptures were covered in fresh snow.

I think tourism department completely failed to manage this event.

Nadeem Mushtaq, Artist

Let Tourism Deptt. Organise better events in future

Artists participated in the event with the intention to showcase the tremendous talent that we have here and to tell the world that despite lack of opportunities, we aren’t lagging behind. The struggle for us is much harder when compared with artists from around the globe and yet, we have been able to draw international attention and appreciation in various forms of art.

It was in 2014 when a young team of artists started the phenomenon and some of the members of that team went on to be recognized as international snow sculpting artists. On international forums, our artists have brought laurels to the country. But unfortunately, the recent event organised by the Department of Tourism was terribly ill planned and lacked the very basic understanding of conducting a snow sculpting competition.

There were no preparations; the time allotted to the artists to come up with the sculptures was terribly little and the other facilities, including very essential tools required during sculpting were not provided. I am sure that there are good people in tourism department who have the exposure and know-how of things and have been to different parts of the world. But it did not show during the competition as none from the tourism department seemed to have given it a proper thought.

The idea behind such competitions is not just to come up with art pieces but also to provide a platform for the artists to showcase their talent. It is a nice medium to work with and we have it in abundance, curtailing such completion just because the department thought so and didn’t even pay a visit to the site is simply disrespectful of art and artists. We hope that in future, Tourism department does it in a better manner.

Tassaduq Hussain, Artist

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