• 12.21.16

Transforming The Bleakness Of Winter Into A Wondrous Candy Land

The whitewashing of snowfall provides a perfect blank canvas for Japanese artist Toshihiko Shibuya.

The best part of new snow is the transformation. The street corner, your neighbor’s house, the backyard you look at every day are all barely recognizable under a thick blanket of glistening snow. Even the sky turns a placid white.


For Japanese artist Toshihiko Shibuya, the white-out of snowfall also offers a pretty spectacular blank canvas. In the ninth installation of his series Snow Pallet, Shibuya turns landscape into a DayGlo art installation with a series of candy-colored sculptures that reflect off of the snow’s surface. The genius of the piece is in its simplicity: Shibuya paints the underside of the iron sculptures with florescent paint, then lets nature do the rest. As the light shifts, and the snow continues to melt or pile on, the piece changes along with it, prolonging the magic of snow during harsh weather. “Everybody tends to hate winter,” says Shibuya. “But if you change your point of view, the possibilities for the future are wide open.”

In Shibuya’s hometown of Sapporo, Hokkaido, his chosen material is plentiful—the northern Japanese island is used to sub-zero temperatures and deep snows starting in early November and continuing into the spring. Like any good piece of land art, Snow Pallet plays off of the natural environment, not just manipulating nature, but being manipulated by it as well. With the added ephemerality of snow, the process unfolds over one season, then keeps coming back again and again.

About the author

Meg Miller is an associate editor at Co.Design covering art, technology, and design.