Among the Polar Ice

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Image credit: James Morrison, Bergs, Otto Fiord II, 23 vii 1992 © Courtesy of the Artist

  • Exhibition: Among the Polar Ice
  • The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum
  • Albert Square, Meadowside
    Dundee, DD1 1DA
  • Saturday 7 September, 2019 to Sunday 8 March, 2020

The most fragile landscapes on earth are the subject of a new exhibition at The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum. Among the Polar Ice brings together contemporary and historic works by artists who have experienced life on the ice.

Selected from Dundee’s nationally significant fine art and whaling collection, the exhibition showcases a small but growing collection of polar artworks which spans 200 years. At its heart are two major series of artworks by leading Scottish artists - Frances Walker and James Morrison.

The Antarctic Suite is the result of Walker’s voyage to the South Pole in 2007. Sailing and making shore visits over 18 days, she visited the Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetlands, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. On her return to her Aberdeen studio, she painted a series of icescapes which she considers the finest work of her distinguished career. The six paintings of the Antarctic Suite evoke the timeless beauty of the region’s desolate and harsh natural environment.

James Morrison’s Arctic paintings capture the glacial landscape of Otto Fiord, Ellesmere Island, which lies within the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Living in a tented camp, in sight of caribou, Morrison described the High Arctic as a ‘paradise on earth.’ Working out of doors, he battled the weather, fluctuations in temperature and the danger posed by the occasional polar bear to produce landscapes of extreme beauty.

The exhibition also highlights Dundee’s long history of Polar exploration. Works by William Burn Murdoch, who accompanied the explorer William Spiers Bruce on the Dundee Antarctic Whaling Expedition in 1892 are included alongside images from lantern slides, drawings and watercolour sketches. Simon Cook, geoscientist at the University of Dundee and Camilla Nichol of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust have contributed to the interpretation of these images – providing scientific context for the artworks on display.

Sinclair Aitken, Chair of Leisure & Culture Dundee said

“During this year, when issues of global warming have never seemed so urgent, these artworks remind us of the importance of these remote landscapes to our very fabric of life.”

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said

“Among the Polar Ice is a fascinating collection of images and paintings from some of the world’s most fragile environments."

“Culture has the power to increase awareness and understanding of major issues facing the world today, and none are greater than climate change."

“We all have a part to play in combatting this global challenge and I hope this exhibition helps to inspire and mobilise change.”

Simon Cook, Geoscientist at the University of Dundee explains,

"Something that’s very on trend at the moment in glacier science is to use archive photos, documents, and even paintings, to understand how landscapes and climate have evolved. Often, these are the only records we have of the recent past (last 100 years or so) before the dawn of satellite imagery. This can represent essential context for today’s climate situation"

These spectacular paintings offer a visual record of the world’s diminishing ice caps and remind us all that we have a role to play in their survival.

Admission is FREE. Opening times: Mon to Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12.30-4.30pm.

Among the Polar Ice
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