Profound new exhibition, Polar North, captures the fragility of the Arctic landscape

A profound new exhibition which captures the fragile and shifting beauty of the Arctic landscape opens this Sunday 10 March at Da Gadderie, Shetland Museum and Archives.

A profound new exhibition which captures the fragile and shifting beauty of the Arctic landscape opens this Sunday 10 March at Da Gadderie, Shetland Museum and Archives.

The exhibition ‘Polar North’ is the work of award-winning Scottish contemporary artist Lesley Burr who was selected as artist in residence by the Friends of Scott Polar Research Institute, travelling to the Canadian Arctic for a period of study in 2019. Since this revelatory residency she has produced a substantial body of Arctic inspired paintings, prints and ceramics, many of which will be on display.

Lesley’s vibrant artwork explore the importance of arctic themes, sharing her responses to the trip and her wider preoccupation with the natural world. As a result, the Gadderie space has been transformed once again, awash with colourful and thought-provoking artwork that captures the scale and dramatic landscape of the Arctic as it journeys through the seasons.

Lesley explained: “My artist’s residency provided me with a unique opportunity to view the Arctic landscape and nature at first hand, and to meet Inuit artists and communities. It enabled me to experience a vast wilderness that is the polar arctic, the breath-taking physical beauty, remoteness and increasing vulnerability as the environment changes. I have often wondered about the challenges that face these Arctic communities as the ice melts and changes are made to embedded patterns. The visit added to my long-standing fascination with life in ‘the North’ and has been a catalyst for a period of prolific creativity. Polar North is a collection of around 50 pieces inspired by my polar journey.”

Karen Clubb, exhibitions officer at Shetland Museum and Archives said: “We are honoured to have Lesley Burr’s work on display in Shetland. Polar North is a remarkable and sensitive exhibition which portrays the vastness of the Arctic, its bold colours and beauty whilst capturing the silence, luminosity and fragility of the natural environment. This extensive exhibition, which is filled with drama and light, will appeal on many levels.”

The exhibition is timely as it will coincide with the UHI 6th International St Magnus Conference, which is taking place in the museum in April and is themed ‘North Isles and the Arctic’.

As part of the museum learning programme that will support the exhibition, Lesley will be leading experimental monoprint workshops for both children and adults in April. An illustrated artist’s talk will also take place during the exhibition period.

Polar North is a selling exhibition and most of the pieces will be available to buy, together with Polar North greetings cards, and a book, ‘Painting the Polar North’ by Lesley Burr.

The exhibition opens on Sunday 10 March and runs until Sunday 26 May 2024.

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