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Chris & Vikky Furse - pictures from their polar travels

Chris & Vikky Furse - pictures from their polar travels

18 September – 8 November 2008Furse poster
See: Opening times for the exhibition and the Museum

This special exhibition showcases 'polar pictures' by the artists Chris and Vikky Furse. Both passionate about the polar regions, they express the beauty of its landscapes and peoples in a range of mediums. Displayed at SPRI is a selection of recent work, including watercolours, acrylics, etchings, ink illustrations and pastel studies.

Chris Furse was born into a family of artists. At 5 years old he was already making lino-cuts of birds. A lifetime of bird-watching and painting followed. Chris says: 'As an RN engineer there were some days I never came on deck. I went on three Antarctic trips (first as birdman/boatman, then two as Leader). My priorities were counting breeding birds, studying foraging routines and taking food samples from penguins, plus man-hauling sledges or canoeing. Drawing came last - after camping, cooking and writing books'.

In 1986, the BritiChris Furse: Whale oil barrels, Deception islandsh Schools Exploring Society (BSES) asked Chris to lead an expedition 'somewhere in Svalbard'. He got good advice from Crispin Gill and Julian Dowdeswell at SPRI. He was a Leader or Chief Leader in Spitsbergen on 5 BSES summer expeditions, where he found more time to draw. Leading the BSES Millennium Expedition around the Scotia Sea was 'even better', and eventually led to this joint exhibition at SPRI.

Art school trained, Vikky Furse first visited the Arctic on small Russian ice-breakers round Svalbard and camped with Chris in Ekman Fjord. Four expeditions to Greenland followed. Vikky says: 'I love travelling with the Inuit and their dogs in late winter, eating what they eat, whether its blubber or finer fare, sleeping in tents or huts, and drawing till my fingers feel perilously cold, witnessing this supreme and lonely landscape and the special people who survive in it'.

Back in the studio, Vikky translates her field-sketches into larger paintings, mostly acrylic on canvas and pastel on paper. Chris works up his sketches into illustrations, watercolour paintings, intaglio prints or monoprinting. They have exhibited at the Mall Galleries, London, around the UK and in Europe with invitations to join international Art-Camps in Hungary and Romania.

Since 2006, Chris and Vikky moved into the world of expedition cruise-ships. In 2007, Vikky was an 'Artist in Residence' in Antarctica on Sarpic Ittuk, and also worked on Polar Star for a month as passenger log-writer and 'Artist at Large'. This year they are both lecturing onboard Polar Star in the Greenland Sea, getting home just before this exhibition opens. When it closes, Chris will be halfway to Ushuaia to join Polar Pioneer visiting South Georgia.

The pictures will be on sale from the Museum Shop throughout the exhibition.

Chris & Vikky Furse

The Furses will be participating in the Museum event 'Drama in Antarctica', part of 'The Big Draw' day on Saturday 25 October 2008, from 10:00-16:00. Admission is free and everyone is welcome. They will also be giving a talk about their work – 'Polar Picture Makers' – for the Friends of SPRI lecture series, on Saturday 25 October 2008, from 20:00 (doors open at 19:30).