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Oxfordshire Artweeks 2020

‘Adventures Abroad’ Art Trail

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Tash Noel

Today, as part of the Oxfordshire Artweeks virtual festival, artists who been inspired by travel around the world offer you the chance to experience the places they visited through their art. Esther Lafferty talks to artist Helen Young https://www.artweeks.org/galleries/2020/helen-j-young-oas to find out more about her adventures. “I’d been north before to Iceland, Norway and Arctic Sweden, as well as to the icy Himalayas, but a recent expedition south to Antarctica following in the footsteps of the explorer Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) was the ultimate journey for me,” she explains.

“I was first entranced by the power of ice when I went to Iceland which I found to be magical, intriguing and unexpected. There was a volcanic stretch of coast called Diamond Beach where glacial ice lay in glittering broken shards on the dark black sand like something from a Snow Queen fairytale. The landscape in the moonlight was just sublime.’’

“On the way to Antarctica, the ship on which we lived for three weeks sailed into Deception Island’s interior, a giant lagoon enclosed by the crater of an active volcano. There was a complete circle of black rock iced with white snow around us which brought back memories of Diamond Beach. You can’t see a greater contrast than that in the natural world: it’s extraordinary. The island had been originally been a whaling station and the more recent scientific stations there were seriously damaged by volcanic eruptions in 1967 and 1969. The history was fascinating but, for me, the thrill of going to Antarctica was in the ice and the icebergs, which are monumental. Although the wildlife was incredible – whales passing very close by and penguins funny to watch even when you’ve seen thousands - I was captivated by the phenomenal range and layering of colours in the ice which I translate to my work as I build up transparent colours like Phthalo Turquoise which is a brilliant cool aquamarine-blue shade, with Prussian Blue and layered with whites. To these I add cold wax to create bold textured abstracts inspired by the lines and form of the Antarctic that recall the feeling of being in that icy environment.”

Two hundred years after the first sighting of the Antarctic continent, Helen’s latest series of work promises an immersive experience for the viewer, a vivid series of paintings each like a fragments of ice itself. They almost seem as if they too will melt away emphasising the ephemeral nature of the icebergs, the changing glacial landscape and the urgent need to protect this environment for the sake of the whole planet.

Click the link here for more: https://www.artweeks.org/festival/theme/adventures-abroad 

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