Artists for the Arctic

Published on 13 April 2017

The world premiere of Elysium Artists for the Arctic in Singapore sees the science of climate change interpreted through the power of the arts.

By Pamela Ho

The Arctic captures our imagination with its majestic icebergs, glaciers and iconic wildlife such as polar bears, seals and walruses. While regarded as one of the most enchanting ecosystems on our planet, climatologists also regard this critically important ecosystem as fragile, volatile, and under severe threat from global warming.

In August 2015, Michael Aw – a multiple award-winning, Sydney-based Singaporean underwater photographer – gathered a team of world-renowned scientists, photographers, cinematographers, artists and musicians for a three-week expedition through Norway, Svalbard, Greenland and Iceland, in an effort to both qualify and quantify climate change in the Arctic.

The result is a breath-taking and powerful exhibition entitled Elysium Artists for the Arctic, which made its world premiere in Singapore, at the ION Art Gallery, on 5 April. Through photography, painting and music, this showcase seeks to generate a better understanding of human-induced climate change, and its effect on all life on earth.

“I’ve always felt that art and science complement each other. The arts can interpret science, such that science is spoken in a language everyone can understand,” says Aw, founder of Ocean Geographic Society, and project director of the Elysium Artists for the Arctic expedition. This is the second Elysium expedition Aw has led, after an earlier one to Antarctica in 2010.

Comprising 65 team members from 19 countries, the Elysium team included living legends in the likes of oceanographer Dr Sylvia Earle (National Geographic’s Explorer-in-Residence) and world-renowned underwater photographers, David Doubilet and Ernie Brooks.

Described as the most stunning visual interpretation ever seen of the Arctic, this exhibition was curated by Rosamund Kidman Cox (editor of BBC Wildlife Magazine and a veteran judge of the Natural History Museum UK’s ‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ competition), Peter Ong (former photo editor with The Straits Times), and Miriam Stein Battles, a photo editor of many National Geographic features.

With 90 percent of the world’s most respected scientists acknowledging that human activities are behind our current climate crisis, the exhibition aims to inspire visitors to play their part to preserve not just this critical northern habitat, but earth as a whole, for future generations.

A limited edition book of the same title (case-bound and hand-sewn!) was also launched at the exhibition – just in case you’re considering taking home some stunning art of the Arctic!

Behind The Scenes Photos

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead

Elysium Artists for the Arctic is held at ION Art Gallery till 16 April. Admission is free. Selected exhibits will be on display at the Marina Mandarin Hotel Gallery (Level 6) from 17 April to 6 May.

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