Lake Baikal is the “pearl of Siberia”, the world’s deepest freshwater lake. Because of its age and isolated location in Siberia, it contains unusual collections of freshwater flora and fauna and 1,700 plant and animal species.
However in the depths of winter, something magical happened on the frozen lake: Jim Denevan, an artist, created the world’s largest drawing, spanning over 12.5 square miles. It’s ephemeral: started in March, it had disappeared by May.
In March Jim Denevan and his team of eight travelled there. They lived in a yurt in the middle of the ice for the duration of the project. The work was ‘drawn’ on the frozen surface of the lake, using the black ice beneath the white snow as contrast.
The spiral of circles, along a fibonacci curve, grow in size from an origin of 18″ to several miles in diameter. The circles were made using brooms, with the crew working for 15 days, 24 hours a day.
“We originally wanted to go to the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica to do this drawing, but after some research I realised that this part of Lake Baikal behaved similarly to the deserts I was used to,” said Jim.
“They usually experience a prolonged period of low pressure over the lake, which means that even though the temperatures are generally around five or ten below zero, it doesn’t snow. That meant that we could part the snow on top of the lake ice and create the drawing without interruptions,” he added.
This spectacular artwork at 12.5 square miles would be able to find room for 4,469 Wembley football pitches. To really see it properly, you have to be in a plane at 40,000 feet.
The project was sponsored by American clothing store Anthropologie as part of their online exhibition space that pairs artists with corporate funds.
Jim ‘drew’ his creation before the team begun using a simple bike and stick, which he rode around lining his artwork into the snow.
“This is the largest drawing in the world and beats my previous record which was a sand drawing in the desert of Nevada, which had a circumference of nine miles,” said Mr. Denevan
He continued: “This drawing is almost ten percent bigger than that, but was designed differently to take into account the shore line of the lake.”
“The circle to the right on the Fibonacci curve holds the same dimensions as my Nevada drawing, but of course it is not a total circle because of the lake’s geography,” he added.
However, nothing went quite as smoothly as planned. “The process begins with me riding around the lake on my bike with a stick,” said Jim. “That allows me to draw the outline using both the wheels and the stick to push away the snow.”
“However, after around the fifth day when we were just getting to work with the larger snow ploughs it snowed. This covered up all my previous outlines and we had to work hard to see where they were to make sure we were on the right tracks.”
Braving the chill Siberian climate and driving the snowplough around on top of the four and half feet thick ice, Jim and his team salvaged the project.
“On the ninth day, we experienced a storm, which blew the snow back on top of the lines we had created, some of which were eight feet wide,” said Jim.
“That was disheartening to say the least. This is an iconic setting for such a surreal and beautiful work, even if it only lasted for just over a month before it disappeared,” explained Jim.
Jim also said: “Lake Baikal contains up to 20 percent of the world’s fresh water and is also in remote and mysterious Siberia. Battling the cold and the wind and the logistical problems was exhausting, but this is a beautiful work and one I am very proud of.” [Jim Denevan and The Anthropologist via DialyMail (UK) and TreeHugger]