At work, Simon Beck makes orienteering maps. In his spare time, he straps on a pair of snowshoes and tramps around for 10 hours, creating unique pieces of snow art on a truly mountainous scale.
Simon has been creating this amazing snow art since 2004 in the ski resort of Les Arcs where he lives for most of the winter. With no background in art to speak of, the 54-year-old takes inspiration from the spirograph doodles of his childhood, and the mystical geometry of crop circles and mathematical fractals, giving his pieces names like ‘Mandelbrot set’, ‘Koch curve’ and ‘Sierpinski triangle’.
Precision is key to creating aerial art on this scale, so Simon usually designs the image on paper before heading out into the cold. He then uses an orienteering compass to get the angles right and a measuring tape or pace-counting to calculate distances; a clothes line with an anchor at the centre point is sometimes used for curves.
Asked in an interview why he started to create this amazing snow art, Simon replied, “It just seemed a natural thing to do.”
As to how his work is received in the resort, his answer is more elaborate:
“I am more interested in what people say on Facebook. Most of the skiers think I am a bit mad, and it’s a waste of good skiing time (I agree, hence the preference for working at night) but I hope to spread the message the mountains and snow are beautiful and worth preserving, and there are better things in life than spending so much time doing things you don’t want to so that you can spend money you haven’t got (yet) to buy things you don’t need to impress people you don’t like.” – Simon Beck