By Linda Mackey — Twenty-five Arctic Quest artists followed in the footsteps of great artists and explorers of the past, as they marked the 100th anniversary of Amundsen's 1906 navigation through the Northwest Passage with a journey of their own this summer.
During a twelve day voyage aboard the Akademik Ioffe, the group Arctic Quest recorded their impressions on canvas, paper and film as they traveled up the east coast of Baffin Island, Greenland, and parts of the Northwest Passage, ending in Resolute. Every day brought new surprises including icebergs emerging from the fog, waking up to Orca whales, circling incredible icebergs, taking a zodiac ride to the base of the icefields in Illilisat, Greenland, or donating art supplies to Inuit children in the Arctic communities. We were able to sketch on Beechey Island and other historic sites, such as Dundas Harbour, where we were treated by a several hour visit with over 100 walrus.
We saw one polar bear at Monumental Island looking for food and another one on an ice floe in Davis Strait. The thing that surprised us the most was that we wore our T-shirts and a light jacket on most of the voyage. In 2002, we had to follow an ice-breaker to get to Beechey Island, but this time, there was no sign of ice. The ice-pilot on our ship had to look at the ice maps to try to find ice, rather than avoid it as on previous voyages. We wondered whether we were seeing extreme conditions of global warming, or whether we just had an unusually warm season. Upon return, and looking at the other 2,500 photographs that I had taken, I did notice glaciers in Greenland, where the snow only seemed to come down about 25% of what it used to, and I remembered Roberta Bondar's 1999 photograph of the historic Ward Hunt Island Ice Shelf, on Ellesmere Island which is 10% the size it was 100 years ago, and has split in half since the photograph was taken.
Arctic Quest artists are now back in their studios, reflecting on the beauty, people, and fragile environment of the High Arctic. We have begun an ambitious program of exhibitions, film, workshops, lectures, and historical projects, all planned to coincide with International Polar Year. Please see Arctic Quest Artists to learn more about this group, the exhibitions they have planned, and the projects or email
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Tuesday, 14 November 2006 07:48
Arctic Quest Artists Explore the Northwest PassageWritten by Polar Artists
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