The most fragile landscapes on earth are the subject of a new exhibition at The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum. Among the Polar Ice brings together contemporary and historic works by artists who have experienced life on the ice. At a time 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.
Selected from Dundee’s nationally significant fine art and whaling collections, 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 William Spiers Bruce on the Dundee Antarctic Whaling Expedition in 1892 are included alongside images from lantern slides, drawings and watercolour sketches.