These paintings were shown as part of my MA end of year show. They are all in oil and were painted on recycled zinc etching plates. I am still haunted by the colour of the blue ice I saw while sailing amongst the icebergs at Jokulsarlon lagoon in the South of Iceland.
Its early May and I’m in Iceland standing high on a glacier in 16 degrees of sunshine. This glacier has been here for 2,500 years and covers several active volcanoes. Today, much of the surface of the ice is melting; drips, then small trickles, gathering into rushing streams, which make crevasses hundreds of metres deep. Our guide tells us if we drop our mobiles down a crevasse it will eventually show up on the gravelly moraine below us.
Where volcanic ash and rocks are scattered on the pristine snowy surface, pools of meltwater accumulate; the dark stones absorbing heat and melting the ice beneath them. The meltwater slowly erodes the ice until great holes called moulins form through the glacier surface.
This melting is a normal feature of glacier morphology, but the length of the summer melt is increasing and the shortening winter means that this glacier, which is part of the largest ice cap in Europe, is in retreat; averaging 50 metres a year and the rate is increasing. In just 4 years the ice where I’m standing will have disappeared and by the end of this century there will be no glaciers left in Iceland.
Suddenly the air is pierced by a cannon crack followed by an echoing thundering roar. The glacier above has calved, fracturing the ice which we can see tumbling down above us. Thankfully we are at a safe distance, but it’s still an awe-inspiring sight and one that I am deeply affected to witness.
Throughout deep history, our planet has been shaped by collisions with extra-terrestrial bodies, volcanoes and geological forces like erosion, plate tectonics and weathering. But now humankind is the greatest of all forces of nature affecting the Earth’s systems: the biosphere; atmosphere; geosphere; cryosphere and hydrosphere. In recognition of this, scientists have designated a new geological epoch, that of the Anthropocene and the climate change that we are now witnessing is only one aspect of the changes we are making.
My artwork can be a space for people to engage with these issues.
Have just returned from a week’s trip staying on Loch Duich and having day trips to Skye. My first time so far North. What an amazing place. I’ve never visited anywhere I wanted to paint so much. The light is incredible, dusk lasts for about an hour and a half and gives great opportunities for painting. I loved to see the sky reflected in the Lochs especially from the Skye bridge where the sea becomes opalescent after sunset. So, I’ve started work on 3 paintings to begin with although my head is literally full of images wanting to emerge onto canvas (or wood panel). I expect to be painting Scotland for many months to come….
Misty morning – Ditchling Beacon – amazing light and dewy cobwebs everywhere.