Exploring the special fascination which the most northern latitudes hold for mankind is the theme of the new exhibition which opens today Friday, April 3 in the Sir Duncan Rice Library at the University of Aberdeen.
The Far North - Frozen Stars, Shifting Ice and the Silence Beyond explores the idea of the Far North through contemporary art and music, historical artefacts from the University Museums, and the Special Collection Centre’s rich holdings of manuscripts and illustrated books.
The University has a current research emphasis on ’The North’, at a time when the Arctic territories are once more a focus of intense ecological, aesthetic and ethical debate – with issues including climate and environmental, the possibility of ice-free shipping routes and the ownership of land, sea and natural resources. In popular consciousness, however, the Arctic lives as myriad impressions collected in images and stories.
The exhibition takes the visitor on a journey from the European and American North to the Polar Sea, where they will follow in the footsteps of Sir John Franklin, Dr Elisha Kent Kane and other explorers of the 19th century. It looks at how early travelers prepared for and survived the perilous conditions of the Arctic, their encounters with its native people, and with wonders and terrors of the natural world, such as the Aurora Borealis and polar bears.
The Far North - Frozen Stars, Shifting Ice and the Silence Beyond draws together works by acclaimed artists Briony Anderson, Reinhard Behrens and Pat Law, as well as music by contemporary composers Peter Stollery and Ed Jones, which will enhance the visitor’s experience of this enigmatic and inspiring region.
Postgraduate research student Sophie Dietrich co-curated the exhibition with Professor Peter Davidson, who has written and researched extensively on many perspectives of The North. Describing its fascination, Sophie Dietrich says: “To the present day, the Arctic is perceived as a mysterious and fascinating place. One reason for tremendous artistic and public interest in the Far North is the idea that in the northernmost parts of our world time (like everything else) is frozen.
“When, in early September 2014 a ship from Sir John Franklin´s ill-fated Arctic expedition of 1845-48, the HMS Erebus, was discovered on the Arctic sea bed, our team here at the University decided that this was the perfect time to start work on this exhibition.
“By intermingling representations of the past in the form of 19th century expedition books and diaries of polar explorers with embodiments of the present, such as contemporary art and music, The Far North creates a timeless space and can be conceived as our response to the discovery of the HMS Erebus.”
The Far North – Frozen Stars, Shifting Ice and the Silence Beyond is open from 3 April 2015 – 20 September 2015 in the Gallery of The Sir Duncan Rice Library at the University of Aberdeen King’s College campus. Admission is free.