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My Chilling Ordeal

Mosman Daily May 31st 2012

Kate Crawford

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Mosman artist Sophie Cape was painting on canvasses laid out on the snow when an avalanche descended on her.
She was engulfed, buried under the snow along with four of her canvases. A formed champion ski racer, Cape managed to dig her way out of complete darkness and snow.
Later the paintings were rescued and were a huge success at Cape's sell-out show at the Hong Kong Art Fair, including one still with pickaxe holes from being dug out of the snow.
Cape is known for her dramatic, large canvasses and often uses bizarre materials like bitumen and animal bones as well as paint. She returned from  the art fair to her Mosman home last week, revealing her near disastrous tup to Austria.
Cape, the daughter of artist Ann Cape, had been invited as an artist-in-residence for three months at Arlberg Hospiz in St Christoph, Australia.
She was painting on the snow slopes at the back of the hotel on February 17 when, without warming, the avalanche swept down the mountain.
Later she was to discover the same avalanche buried Prince Johan Friso of the Netherlands. He was rescued by remains in a permanent coma in hospital.
Cape said she had little time to be frightened. "An avalanche is like being dumped by a big, solid wave - you have to swim your way out," Cape said.
"And you have to create an airspace around your head and spit so that you know which direction is up because people lose their sense of direction and dig downwards."
Cape said it took weeks for the paintings, depicting bold and abstract snowscapes, to be retrieved.
It was the first time Cape had returned to the snow after the horrendous skiing accident 12 years ago that broke 17 bones in her body and nearly resulted in her legs being amputated.
"Friends have joked 'what is it with you and snow?" she said.

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