ICE man Darren Jackson is hoping to keep his cool as he takes part in two prestigious competitions.
Sunderland-born ice sculptor Darren and wife Stephanie are flying out to Canada today to take part in the contests.
The couple will compete in the 20th Ice Magic festival in Lake Louise and the Ice on Whyte festival in Edmonton, going head-to-head with some of the best ice sculptors from around the world.
Darren said: “We get 15 blocks of 100cm by 50cm by 25cm thick ice, weighing 100kg and we have 35 hours over three days to finish the 1.5 tonne, 15-block ice sculpture.
“Last year we took second place in both competitions, which hopefully will put us in good form to compete for top spot, but the standard is amazingly high.”
The first festival has an open theme, so Darren and Stephanie are making Mannanan mac Lir, the sea god of the Isle of Man, while the second event has a theme of Winter Olympic Spirit, which the couple will illustrate in the form of rutting stags clashing antlers.Originally from Chester Road, Darren grew up in High Barnes and Hendon before studying a model making and design degree at Sunderland University.
He and Stephanie have been taking part in ice sculpting festivals for the last six years.
The couple, who regularly contribute to the Ice Magical Kingdom in London’s Hyde Park’s winter wonderland, recently started up a small ice and ceramics sculpture business in the Isle of Man, called The Farmyard Studio.
Sunderland-based outdoor clothing company Berghaus has played a major part in Darren and Stephanie’s success.
Darren added: “Temperatures this year look bleak with -35 to -40 degree temperatures, so we need some good kit.
“Berghaus’s head office in Sunderland have kindly given us a great deal on their best kit so we can work in the freezing temperatures.
“Over the years they have been very kind in sorting out big discounts on kit – it’s amazing how keeping warm helps you get through the day, especially when you get down to the fine detailed work.”