Landscapes of Exploration is being held in the Peninsula Arts Gallery – within the University’s Roland Levinsky Building – and draws together for the first time the works of 10 visual artists, one musician and three writers who undertook residencies in the Antarctic between 2001 and 2009.
They were all working alongside scientists based on the continent under the auspices of the British Antarctic Survey, in a project funded by Arts Council England.
The resulting pieces of work will go on show to the public for seven weeks from February 11, providing a glimpse into a world few of us will ever get to see with our own eyes.
Liz Wells, Professor in Photographic Culture within the university’s Faculty of Arts, has been instrumental in setting up the exhibition.
Prof Wells said that the images give a fascinating insight into how art and science can work together, and into the effects human activities are having on the planet’s last remaining wilderness.
She said: “The artists have had the opportunity to explore and express something of their experiences and responses to Antarctica and also to live and work alongside scientific teams,” she said.
“The journey is psychological as well as geographical. Attempts to absorb the immensity of the experience, to make sense of the Antarctic as a place to start with advance research and planning, continue after returning home.
“All the artists and writers comment that the experience continues to influence their work, but the significance of the residency programme goes beyond this as their work offers insights that are subjective as well as informational.
“Artists and scientists bring different objectives, modes of creative thinking and methods into play, together offering a fuller picture of what has occurred.”
One of the artists taking part in the exhibition is Chris Drury, who worked alongside the British Antarctic Survey in 2006/07.
“I wanted to go to the most extreme place on Earth so it would act as a kind of benchmark,” he said.
“In the event I did nothing which I said I would do because the place and the experience dictated otherwise. Antarctica is totally overwhelming and I decided to just enter into the life of the place, both socially and practically.”
Painter Philip Hughes was one of the first Antarctic artists-in-residence, travelling south in 2001-02.
He said: “Working there was intense. As it was light for 24 hours a day there was never a reason to stop. Another reason to keep working was the realisation that this was a one-off chance – there would be no return.
“The experience has affected my painting style and technique. Painting snow fields forced me to graduate texture, colour and tone in new ways.”
Landscapes of Exploration will be open at the Peninsula Arts Gallery from Saturday, February 11 to Saturday, March 31. For more details, visit www.peninsula-arts.co.uk
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