I have just returned home from a life changing art residency in the Arctic Circle, where I spent two and ½ weeks travelling around Svalbard with a group of wonderful artists, guides and crew upon the tall ship, The Antigua. The experience was one of mixed emotions – adulation, excitement, wonder, despair, anger and hope. I am now trying to make sense of what I experienced. We witnessed plastic in the remotest of areas, such as the isolated Mushamna on Svalbard. It was heart breaking to bear witness to so much plastic that we could not physically collect. In jettisoned fishing nets we found reindeer antlers, birds, and seal bones. Our tall ship managed to navigate waters previously frozen, places we shouldn’t be able to access, direct observation of vanishing sea ice. We also saw many glaciers which have been reduced in size. In some fjords, glaciers that were giant, colossal moving precipices of ice were now shrunken and separated by moraine hills. These examples of devastation were contrasted by magnificent landscapes, beached and floating aqua marine ice statues, sparking ice cliffs of assorted blues, and wildlife such as polar bears, blue whales, seals, walruses and birds galore. For now, I need to understand this experience so that I can communicate what I have seen, inspire hope and encourage positive action.
The work that I have posted here was done during the residency. These works explore a dystopian future view of this marine environment. A place where fake nature is normal.