Sonntag, 6. Dezember 2009

Bears not only in the freezer: The Ice Bear Project ...Copenhagen & London

'When the skeleton begins to appear, it's going to become terrifying.'—Sculptor Mark Coreth

"Of all species in the history of life on this planet, there has been one whose ability to leave its mark has been like no other... Us! With the application of our brains and the use of our hands, we have sculpted this world and our endeavour has covered its surface, from the deserts to the Poles.

Along with tools for cutting and clearing, our ancestors shaped artifacts, to help express their place and their struggle. Human hands created the incised mammoth tusk, the cave paintings, the carved offerings, and across tens of thousands of years, these still appeal to our senses and communicate ideas. These hands, which can over exploit our world, can also capture its essence and that essence, characterised as art, touches our emotions and can change us.

So, at a time, when through science, evidence of humankind's extraordinary destructive ability is being revealed, it is through art that we can express our emotional response. "(extract from The Ice Bear Project)

Polar bear sculpture shapes climate change concern

"A British sculptor carving a polar bear out of ice, with a bronze skeleton inside, hopes to make a powerful environmental message when the Arctic animal art piece melts.

Mark Coreth started creating the ice polar bear on Friday in Kongens Nytorv Square in Copenhagen, Denmark, close to where nearly 20,000 people are expected to attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from Dec. 7 to 18.

Coreth got the idea after visiting Churchill, Man., in November, and observing the bears and the sea ice.

He said he was struck by the plight of the animals due to climate change, and became convinced "that we have got to do something about this and do it quick."

At 1.8 metres, the bear sculpture will be the same height as the average thickness of the floating sea ice in the Arctic Ocean as measured during the Catlin Arctic Survey earlier this year, he said.

Observers will be encouraged to be interactive with the sculpture, he added, saying that anyone who touches it will help change the shape and "represent the human aspect of warming the planet.

"We hope that this creative act will bring home to each person how humanity has the power to affect the delicate balance of nature," he said.

Coreth doesn't know how long it will take for the ice bear to melt into a pool of water, but as it does, he hopes it will send a message to the world.

"When the skeleton begins to appear, it's going to become terrifying. When the bronze appears, it is going to take warmth through the skeleton and melt that ice even more," he said. "That is akin to a lack of ice in the arctic north — the deep, dark ocean absorbs heat and continues to melt it."

Coreth said his idea has been strongly supported by Arctic scientists and researchers.

"It's extraordinary how the scientists, every one of them, have come up and said this is the message we want people to have, we want to tell people this," he said. "They've given it a complete blessing."

Coreth also has the support of federal Liberal David McGuinty, Canada's critic for energy and the environment, who will be in Copenhagen as part of this country's official delegation at the conference.

He hopes it'll shame the Harper government into signing onto a global climate deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

"There's no doubt in my mind that Canada has moved from leader to laggard on the international scene," McGuinty said.

(read full CBS article here, there is a second part on which I will refer in a second posting)

And here a BBC article about Mark Coreth , his bears, his projects and his vision... By the way, he is not only on his own , there are Ice Bear People linked to the Ice Bear Project.

The man with bears in the freezer
Sarah Jones/3 November 2009

In amongst the broad beans and vegetable samosas, in a freezer in North London, are the latest creations of Wiltshire sculptor Mark Coreth.

Coreth isn't known for doing things by halves.

Back in 2007 he got his chainsaw around a mountain of polystyrene blocks to create a jumbo-sized (literally) African bull elephant in his garden.

Two years on and he's got another supersized project on the go, a life-sized ice bear on Trafalgar Square.

Few sculptors can boast a massive three-ton white African bull elephant, in their back garden, let alone two 12 foot long hunting polar bears in the freezer.

Polar bear skeletons in the freezer

But as of last month, Mark Coreth can when his latest creations - two Arctic bear bronze skeletons - went on ice in an industrial-sized freezer somewhere in North London.

It's the extreme sculptor's latest project that will see Trafalgar Square's Northern Terrace playing host to a prowling ice bear in the run-up to Christmas:

"What in fact I'm doing," says Mark, "is to combine bronze and ice in a piece that I hope is going to be incredibly powerful.

"I'm going to carve the polar bear in ice. It will essentially be an ice bear and as the ice melts it will reveal a skeleton, a pool of water and a very powerful message."

It was back in 2007 that Mark made his first trip to the Arctic and witnessed first-hand the receding sea ice and the effects of global warming on the Arctic's polar bears. It was then that he decided to bring the Arctic to the world:

"I was sitting on the sea ice with this enormous and beautiful iceberg that had been born thousands of years back. And lo and behold along comes a daft little sculptor from Tisbury, with an ice axe, who starts to chip a polar bear out of it.

"That's when I thought 'wow' this is incredibly exciting. A little bit like graffiti a little bit naughty but very sculpturally pleasing."

With the idea of a life-size polar bear sculpture, hewn out of a block of white ice, Mark approached an ice sculpting firm in Wimbledon to get to grips with the techniques of ice sculpting.

But learning to get a chisel around a giant ice cube has been the least of his problems. And in fact creating a giant ice cube, big enough to chisel a polar bear out of, has been far from straight forward:

"Although it's taking six weeks to freeze, it's relatively quick frozen," says Mark.

"But the ice doesn't just freeze beautifully from inside outwards. So unless you keep that water moving, breaking it up and topping it up slowly you'll actually end up with a huge box of ice water."

Chainsaw massacre on Trafalgar Square

But leaking tanks and runny ice aside, the ice bears are now safely on ice in an enormous industrial warehouse freezer amongst, as Mark puts it, millions of broad beans, prawns and an unbelievable number of boxes of vegetable samosas.

With one ice bear destined for the World Wildlife Fund's Big Tent exhibition in Copenhagen, on 5 December, and the other for the North Terrace of Trafalgar Square on Friday 11 December, Mark has his work cut out for him. Especially when he's being restricted, by Westminster, with what he uses to cut his work:

"To some extent the initial carve will be done with a chain saw but apparently," admits Mark, "Westminster is a little windy of me having a chainsaw massacre on Trafalgar Square.

"So I think I'm restricted to my chisel."

Armed with just his simple long-handled ice chisel, albeit with a blade sharp enough to shave with, Mark will be whittling a 12 foot long and 6 foot high striding 'big beastie' not only in front of the National gallery but in front of a crowd as well:

"I'm going to have a crack at doing it as fast as I possibly can," says Mark. "I'm hoping within the day but I do work quite fast. It will be a whole day of sculpting in a slightly theatrical way.

"It's actually visually beautiful because you've got this very sharp ice chisel and sort of slicing through it and particles of ice flying everywhere and as you carve another bit away you're revealing this bear."

Sculpting in underpants

But with the cost of freezing giant polar bear sized blocks of ice making test runs out of the question, it's not only going to be, as Mark puts, a little bit of belt and braces but hard graft as well:

"On the square at 7am," says Mark, "and as far as I'm aware the press invading come midday. So there's a pretty major time limit.

"And it is a high energy form of work and I think you may well find me stripped down to my underpants but I promise to go no further."

With planning permission for the polar bear skeleton to remain on the square for just 10 days, and no idea of how long it will take for the ice bear to melt, Mark is keen to re-incarnate his ice bear in squares around the world:

"I'm hoping to send the skeleton to different cities around the world," says Mark, "where we'll go through the same process.

"Imagine if we can get a bear in Red Square, a bear in Tiananmen Square and to finish off at the Olympics in London would be, I think, very poignant."

If you want to see Mark Coreth in action, head down to Trafalgar Square from 7am onwards on Friday 11 December. Or if you'd like to get your hands on the ice bear, and Mark is keen to get thousands of people touching it, then the ice bear or ice bear skeleton will be on the Northern Terrace for a further 10 days.

Sources: CBSNews & BBC Wiltshire

Related :

-Mark Coreth's website , Ice Bear Project & Blog
-Mark Coreth's Ice Bear Projects:
Copenhagen & London (Dec 11/Trafalgar Square)

-Kurzmeldung zum Projekt Kopenhagen auf Deutsch hier/5.Dezember

Ulli J hat im Knutitis-Forum eine tolle deutsche Übersetzung des CBSNews-Artikels gepostet, ein Video von der Kopenhagen-Aktion gibt es hier!

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