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Arctic Artist in Residence 2019: Lesley Burr

Arctic Artist in Residence 2019: Lesley Burr

Being selected as the Friends of SPRI 2019 Arctic Artist in Residence is a career highlight as it fulfilled a long-awaited creative desire to explore the Arctic first hand having spent years fascinated by the Arctic environment. The theme of the expedition was Art, Wildlife and Culture to South Baffin Island in the Canadian arctic. There was an exciting visual combination of epic scenery, Inuit culture and wildlife particularly of note observing polar bears, walrus and a broad billed murre colony. My art practice is immersed in nature and landscape have explored wildernesses in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. I currently live on the west coast of Scotland having spent a decade in the Shetland Islands, visited the Faroe Isles, Norway's Nigarsbreen glacier, the Himalayan foothills of Indian and Pakistan, remote SW China and New Zealand's South Island chronicling the landscapes.

As a painter of landscape, light and colour is always of interest as a means to capture inner feelings, imagery, mood and the fleeting ephemeral quality of the human experience. The visual forms of icebergs and ice are incredibly sculptural, each ice form being unique and made beautiful through arctic light. Watching the ice on the move was an unforgettable part of the residency. The understanding that over time the ice shapes landscapes, constantly moving, carving geography into mountains to form the topography that we see and appreciate, monumental floating icebergs that are on a journey from the Greenland icecap.

Lesley Burr 1

Leaving Frobisher Bay on day one, there was a spectacular orange sunset on the sea ice. Later in my cabin I was aware of feeling the calm regular thud vibration of the ice on the hull of the ship which was totally absorbing and strangely reassuring, reminiscent of breathing. It was a sign that forces of nature are beyond human influence, in constant change promoting a sense of awe and connection to the various forces and contrasts of nature - of freezing ice and melting sea ice into the ocean.

Life on board the CV Resolute was comfortable, highly sociable and yet spacious. This provided me with a precious opportunity to respond creatively to the imagery and themes evoked by the fragile Arctic environment. One Ocean Expedition staff were all extremely helpful and having asked about the possibility of a studio space I was provided with a spare cabin, with plastic on the carpet. This was ideal
as I was then able to produce larger scale pastels and watercolours without worrying about a mess!

Lesley Burr 2

I produced 70 sketches, 10 larger paintings, 500 photographs during the voyage providing source material for a new body of paintings and prints. A written diary records the numerous interactions with people and places, excursions to Inuit communities like Kimmirut and Cape Dorset known as the "capital of Inuit Art were particularly special.

"A prolific artist Lesley seeks her inspiration from nature and landscape with many of her works displaying an intimate and profound sensitivity to the inter-relationship between human beings and the environment" A. Harper, Founder, The Essential School of Painting. – a new website showcasing her work will be online early August 2020.