Artist's statements on the Arctic
Artists are the great observers of our world, and for centuries recorded images for future generations to view.
Please read what each has to say. Click on image to read their biography.
Robert AmiraultRobert Amirault My trip to Canada's high Arctic was multifaceted...like looking through a finely cut gem and seeing the world's skeleton. The incredible reserved beauty of the landscape, spectacular colour in the sea, sky and ice formations, breathtaking animals existing the best they can in a changing climate, and native Canadians challenged by the environment and their living conditions, but surviving nonetheless.
Kim AtkinsKim Atkins Thoughts on climate change in the Arctic: I spoke at length to a visitor to our show in Toronto last month. A woman who had been to the Arctic about 14 years ago and had returned recently. She told me how shocked she had been to see the growth in vegetation. Places which had been rock covered and bare were covered with green and tiny plants were similar in size to plants we see in southern Canada.
Dean AxelsonDean Axelson The closest I have come to the arctic was a visit to Moosonee and Moose Factory, Ontario on the southern end of James Bay as well as to Alaska. Both trips were very impressive. I believe that mankind has to take a serious stand on reducing the pollution we are pouring into our environment or we will destroy our earth as well as every living creature on it.
Tony BattenTony Batten Thoughts on climate change in the Arctic: This was my first visit to the Arctic and I was enthralled by its unanticipated overblown scale. Everything was enormous - the bird population, the long windswept beaches, the glaciers and above all the towering cliffs. This painting shows a melt-fall cascading into the sea at Cape Hay. With its dynamic seasonal transformation and erosion, it encapsulates the sense of change that permeates the Arctic experience.
Heidi BurkhardtHeidi Burkhardt Thoughts on climate change in the Arctic: The bears we watched on Monumental Island were roaming on barren land waiting for ice. They need to hunt food, we learned. They don't eat all summer. Wouldn't it be tragic if the ice never came, and they had to fast to death...
RoseMarie CondonRoseMarie Condon CCGS Henry Larsen’s bridge a fine vantage point; I sketched the majesty of the High Arctic July 24 till late August 1994. Breaking ice in Lancaster Sound escorting ore carriers and provisioning ships to Nanasivik and Little Cornwallis Island our ice breaker continuously rode up on heavy first and multi-year pack ice to open a channel. Cruising Lancaster Sound aboard the Akademik Ioffe in late July 2006 there was no ice to be found. Enormous glaciers I trekked on in 1994 near Dundas Harbour were alarmingly diminished. Searching for pack ice we headed for Greenland looking to encounter animals that forage and give birth on the ice pack. The sun shone the sea mill pond still, many of us wore shorts and t-shirts it was surreal.
Paul GauthierPaul Gauthier The voyage with Arctic Quest artists was my seventh excursion into Arctic Territory. Each expedition had its moments of wonder and visual excitement. Over a period of some 27 years, I have experienced changing ice patterns and most notably warming trends, affecting wildlife sustainment and indigenous native population’s frustrations in harvesting declining species. On my last venture with Arctic Quest, a scene I observed from the deck of the Akedemik Ioffe vessel brought this aspect of environmental change to the ecology of the Arctic, forcefully into view. Here was a lone mature polar bear squatting on a fragment of ice surrounded by an open sea devoid of pack ice. In order to survive, the bear needs access to ice, to hunt their seal quarry. We need to draw attention to environmentalists, government officials and the general public, that we are indeed experiencing global warming on a scale that is directly influencing the ecology of this fragile planet. Future generations will suffer the consequences of our ineptitude in dealing with what is now a crisis of a monumental continuum of events.
Kathy HaycockKathy Haycock In 1975 I spent a week at Beechey Island, where the Franklin expedition stayed 1845-46. John Torrington age 20 years was the first to die. I always have, and always will, think of his memory when visiting Beechey Island. That was towards the end of “the Little Ice Age,” when staying over winter meant being iced in 11 months or 2 or 3 years, or crushed in the ice. This is certainly not the case now. Perhaps Franklin would have made it through the Northwest Passage if the climate had been the same then as it is today.
John JoyJohn Joy I had the opportunity to sit on the deck of the ship and paint. The ship was in constant motion, but it had little or no vibration as it was designed for scientific purposes. We had a few days of constant light and our path took us through various channels and through constant icebergs and icefields. It has a captivating appearance that keeps you looking and looking. Sleeping becomes secondary. I managed 4 hours a day - always strange ice forms or long strings of clouds.
Dr. Diane Howard LangloisDr. Diane Howard Langlois We live in a global world where new frontiers are further removed. I passionately believe that the Arctic and Antarctica are some of the most dazzling places on earth and a locale that few people have the opportunity to visit. For centuries the Arctic and Antarctica have had a natural allure to explorers, scientists, and academics. Today photographers, artists, authors and environmentalists are being drawn toward both polar poles in increasing numbers. The paradigm for the Polar Regions are also changing from the romantic heroic lore of past to one of interconnectedness, conflict and controversy.
Ana JurpikAna Jurpik I happened to observe two polar bears during my voyage to the High Arctic, and know they need ice in order to survive. Many drown while swimming trying to reach the floes. Will we one day need to recreate a temperature controlled environment for the bears to be observed, a super zoo, if they are to continue to exist? Is it not simpler to start acting as responsible inhabitants of this planet?
Lisa-Marie LeclercLisa-Marie Leclerc Painting Arctic landscape is the best way to capture and immortalize the beauty of the white silence before it melts away.
Margaret LudwigMargaret Ludwig The World is very Different Now. Climates are changing, the animals are decreasing in numbers and the earth is shifting. We must realize now that these are the terrible results of Global Warming. The melting icebergs and ice floes where the seals, whales and bears live and feed is fast disappearing. So, if you do not wish to attend the funeral of the last bear in about seventy years, we MUST act now!
Rhonda McDonaldRhonda McDonald During my explorations throughout the Arctic, I have, on occasion, taken for granted many of the impacts that Global Warming has had on this region. In 2003, I was guilty of scouring the landscape with only an artistic eye, selfishly starving for the next scene to grace my canvas. Today, my interpretations of how I translate the Arctic onto canvas is revealed in my painting titled "On Thin Ice, Baffin Island". When I first photographed this scene, I was drawn by the strength and courage of this polar bear having travelled an incredible distance, hunting for it's favorite meal - the seal - often found on the sea ice. Reflecting back with heightened scientific awareness on Global Warming, this polar bear that I first marvelled over has now become a very poignant scene with emphasizes solely on the bear's survival. I am hopeful that my painting "On Thin Ice, Baffin Island" will serve as an educational awareness and leave each viewer with a strong statement on the effects of Global Warming.
David McEownDavid McEown The power of a place can awaken the senses and erase preconceptions. The Arctic, this formidable yet fragile wilderness of ice and great white bears, stirs feelings of longing and reverence. It is also a place of extreme cold, boat crushing ice and remoteness, which awakens vulnerability and a sense of one’s mortality. Wilderness can awaken and take us “home” in a deep way.
The ice is a living organism. Like the topsoil in a garden, it is the key to the ecosystem. Plankton grows underneath the ice in which krill feed on. These tiny creatures are an important part of a food chain that birds, seals and bears are dependent on. So many stories are written on this beautiful “blank” canvas. Polar bear tracks crisscross the ice floes, and pressure ridges tell stories written by the wind. The ice is absent in many places in the Arctic now and 2007 marked the lowest ice coverage in recorded history.
Painting on location is a meditation, a way of communicating and becoming one with landscape. For the last 4 years I have been circumnavigating the Arctic Ocean and Antarctica as well have painted at the North Pole in 2007.
Once while painting, a polar bear swam fearless along side for ten minutes and disappeared into the fog and blue ice. I felt wonder and reverence, a sign to keep on working through the chill and witness the wonder of this dynamic changing place through the creative act of painting.
Johanna MehargJohanna Meharg There is a climate change in Canada's north and it is starting to threaten the population levels of polar bears. These massive predators are losing access to their food source, seals, because of shrinking sea ice. I have depicted my painting, Bear Family, in these difficult times.
Karole PittmanKarole Pittman Thoughts on climate change in the Arctic: I've been going to the Arctic since 1968. The summer of 2006 was warm and unlike any Arctic summer I've ever seen. There was almost no sea ice. We sought it out, looking for wildlife among the floes. People sat on deck in bare feet in Lancaster Sound. Baffin Bay was mostly ice-free and we saw Orcas, unusual this far North.
Valerie RussellValerie Russell The fjords, glaciers and ice-capped mountains are now nothing like in times gone by. From the words of the Inuit they say that due to global warming their lives have been altered immensely as their livelihood fast disappears. The sightings of polar bears waiting at the shore-line for the ice to form is now commonplace. In the faces of the Inuit you can read the harshness of their life on this land that is melting before their very eyes. I pray that man will have the wisdom and courage to allow this land to retain its primal beauty and not destroy what God has created.
Brigitte SchreyerBrigitte Schreyer Back in the summer of 1989 I visited the Arctic for the first time. In the 3 weeks I was stationed in Pangnirtung, Baffin Island, I watched the Pang Fjord slowly open up and melt and I was having great fun painting the everchanging ice floes. I was not at all aware of the climate change then. On this Arctic Quest trip to the High Arctic and Greenland I learned first hand that the ice is dissappearing. Some of the Locals told me that they are enjoying the longer and warmer summer, but I know that the polar bears need the ice and they also need the seals to feed on. I did not see any seals.
Gerald SevierGerald Sevier This was my first trip to the High Arctic. Though we saw numerous icebergs as we approached Greenland I was surprised and disappointed by the lack of ice and the warm temperatures in Nunavut. While hiking in Uummannaq, Greenland I dove into a tarn for a refreshing dip, the day was so unexpectedly warm. The Arctic continues inspiring me to create paintings of its rugged beauty.
Sarah ShawSarah Shaw For months prior to my first trip to the Arctic, I had been anxious to paint what I would witness. I had no idea how sitting on the frozen Arctic Ocean soaking in the beauty in front of me, would affect me. Icebergs, glaciers, frozen oceans. As I paint the immense beauty, I find the challenge is not to produce beautiful pieces of art, but to have all my viewers get a feel for the enormity and rarity of what I am experiencing. I sit and think of cars, smog, pollution and destruction. What will this serene area look like in the years to come? All of these thoughts are what push me to keep painting. How much longer before all this is gone? Anger, frustration and desperation push me again to keep painting. To remind us of our impact of global warming. We must work harder. I find it amazing how different it is to simply paint compared to painting with purpose.
Maurice SnelgroveMaurice Snelgrove We were told that the ice left Resolute two week's early this year. Some scientists claim that if the current warming trend continues, it will be irreversible by the years 2015-2020! I am happy but also discouraged to have had a last glimpse of the Arctic as we know it.
Lynn SoehnerLynn Soehner Thoughts on climate changes in the Arctic: I had a conversation with the curator at the Aasiaat Museum and he said that Norse history of Greenland was called that for a good reason...it was green...when Eric the Red explored and named it around 982-985. By 1350 however, the Norsemen had abandoned Greenland to the Inuit with no explanation other than a mini ice age seemed to have occurred. He was very accepting of the fact that Greenland was now in a warming cycle.
Andrew SookrahAndrew Sookrah I would hope that in presenting the art created as a result of the Arctic Quest 06 trip that we would increase awareness of the Arctic and encourage people to be more receptive to the warnings being sounded about the impact of our collective actions on our environment. Especially the way we are influencing the escalation of global warming and its impact on that region of the world.
Mary WaglerMary Wagler The only polar bear I happened to see in the Arctic was on an isolated ice floe making it a long swim for the bear to reach the next ice floe. This was information first realized in the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”.
David WardDavid Ward Arctic Quest's 2006 journey aboard the Akademic Ioffe was an experience quite unlike my first trip to the Arctic - a Hiking trip across Baffin Island in 1993 - both trips however, began in Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut. It was apparent, almost immediately, that much had changed in the North. Iqaluit, which was a city of 3000 the last time I visited, has now grown to 9000. Only one day earlier back in the early nineties (July 21st), when I first saw Frobisher Bay, pack ice covered much of the water just off shore. This year, as satellite maps revealed, not a piece of ice was to be seen anywhere!
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