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Holiday Alley's 20-foot straw sculpture to be displayed, then torched

Manitoba students and artists have joined forces with a renowned Lithuanian sculptor to create a 20-foot straw creation, with plans to set the whole thing on fire.

The sizzling display is part of Selkirk’s seventh annual Holiday Alley.

The four-day festival is aimed at bringing art, light, sound, creativity and culture to Selkirk’s old downtown.

New this year – a two-storey high straw sculpture of a magic lantern, created by Lithuanian sculptor Vytautas Musteikis and designed by local artist Chris Pancoe. Local artists, junior high students and teachers are also pitching in to bring the piece to life.

Organizers say the collaboration came after a chance meeting between Pancoe, Winnipeg architect and founder of the Warming Huts competition Peter Hargraves and Musteikis at the Icehotel in Sweden.

Pancoe pitched the sculptor on coming to Selkirk to create one of his towering straw pieces at the festival.

Holiday Alley co-founder Shirley Muir said the agricultural art is a perfect addition, as the festival happens too early in winter for ice sculptures.

“This is our solution – straw sculptures.”

The creation of Holiday Alley's magic lantern straw sculpture is shown in a Nov. 16, 2023 photo. (Source: Jamie Dowsett/CTV News Winnipeg)

The plan is to display the creation in the parking lot east of 219 Manitoba Avenue on Friday through Saturday.

Then it will be stored until February, when it will be brought back out only to be burned. It’s a common practice in Musteikis’ homeland.

“He says it’s very important to not be so attached to your artwork, so lighting it on fire is a very spiritual practice for him, as well as, quite often in his country, structures like these are made and burned to show the changing of the seasons,” Muir explained.

Grade seven students Sarah Magnusson and Zoey Adler relished the chance to miss a bit of school to help bring the magic lantern to life.

However, they are still reckoning with the sculpture’s fiery fate.

“Our hard work will be disintegrated into the ground,” Adler said.

“It’s almost like when you make a fort and you have to destroy it because your parents tell you to clean it,” Magnusson reasoned.

Holiday Alley runs from Nov. 16 to 19.

Details on this year’s activities, including the straw sculpture, can be found on the festival’s website.

Seventh graders Zoey Adler and Sarah Magnusson look on as renowned sculptor Vytautas Musteikis works. (Source: Jamie Dowsett/CTV News Winnipeg) Top Stories

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