ARCTIC LIGHT: An Artist’s Journey In a Frozen Wilderness

  • Written by  Olivia Edward
  • Published in Books
ARCTIC LIGHT: An Artist’s Journey In a Frozen Wilderness
09 Nov
2017
by David Bellamy • Search Press • £25 (hardback)

There are, Robert Macfarlane believes, people ‘for whom northerliness is a mode of perception as well as a geographical position.’ Artist David Bellamy is perhaps one of them. He voyages to Greenland and Svalbard to capture the coruscating light in watercolour, and allows the hardship and restrictions of the Arctic to shape his work.

Sketching while bouncing off husky-drawn sledges, or tied to ice screws above unfathomably deep moulins, he’s drawn to the Arctic wildlife – musk ox, polar bears – and the dramatic shapes that ice creates as it’s broken apart by oscillating temperatures. He writes in such a mild manner, amused by all he encounters – from the walrus who appears to be telling a bedtime story, to the rented boat that comes with a free leak – that it’s easy to forget how brutal these landscapes can be. But the horror lurks in his tales like a dark shadow beside a sunny afternoon.

A guide tells how he attended the funeral of his self-slain brother, only to lose 20 of his 23 siblings in a snowstorm on their way home. Elsewhere, Bellamy watches fulmar chicks force-fledged by their parents from cliff-top nests – less than a third survive, most die from their injuries or are picked off by Arctic foxe

Bellamy is cheerful and pragmatic in the face of such extremes, offering practical advice for painting in the Arctic – always bring a small square of closed-cell foam to sit on, dip your brushes in gin rather than frozen water – and tidbits of information about polar life.

But the paintings themselves are the real highlight. Reminiscent of the watercolours Wilson made on his expeditions with Scott, they achieve what photography longs for but rarely pulls off – to convey not just the details of a place, but the experience of being in that place.

Click here to purchase Arctic Light by David Bellamy via Amazon

red line

NEVER MISS A STORY

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox by signing up to our free weekly newsletter!

red line

Share this story...

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

Subscribe Today

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth UniversityUniversity of GreenwichThe University of Winchester

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • The Air That We Breathe
    Cities the world over are struggling to improve air quality as scandals surrounding diesel car emissions come to light and the huge health costs of po...
    Diabetes: The World at Risk
    Diabetes is often thought of as a ‘western’ problem, one linked to the developed world’s overindulgence in fatty foods and chronic lack of physi...
    National Clean Air Day
    For National Clean Air Day, Geographical brings together stories about air pollution and the kind of solutions needed to tackle it ...
    The Nuclear Power Struggle
    The UK appears to be embracing nuclear, a huge U-turn on government policy from just two years ago. Yet this seems to be going against the grain globa...
    REDD+ or Dead?
    The UN-backed REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme, under which developing nations would be paid not to cut dow...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - follow Geographical

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Films

An emotional and divisive documentary that explores the trophy hunting…

Books

by Paul Murton • Birlinn • £14.99 (softback)

Books

by Harry Hook • HIP Editions • £54 (hardback)

Books

by James Suzman • Bloomsbury • £18.99 (hardback)

Books

by Thorkild Hansen • New York Review Books • £11.99…

Books

by David Bellamy • Search Press • £25 (hardback)

Books

by Michael Bristow • Sandstone Press • £8.99 (paperback)

Reviews

Oslo makes complex geopolitics a living, breathing spectacle

Films

New blockbuster takes climate chaos to the extreme, where what…

Exhibitions

Prestigious Natural History Museum photography competition recognises Brent Stirton's capturing…

Books

An inveterate armchair traveller ever since my Soviet childhood, I…

Books

Bonnett’s previous book, Off the Map, was a thoroughly readable…

Books

When Wilkinson set off to become the Telegraph’s Islamabad correspondent…

Books

Dartmoor National Park might appear wild, but it’s the lines…

Books

Barry Smith is a self-confessed islomaniac and a fixation with…

Books

Neoliberalism. The word seems to have lost all meaning. According…

Films

Combining a treasure trove of unseen footage set to music…

Books

The dreadful pandemic of 1918, writes Laura Spinney, ‘engulfed the…

Books

Those of us who enjoy good travel writing know that…