High Arctic – Solo Exhibition by Claire Harkess

September 4, 2016 by Perthshire Creates

High Arctic

A solo exhibition by Perth based artist, Claire Harkess at The Strathearn Gallery, Crieff opens on Saturday 10th September until Sunday 9th October.

Travelling to Greenland and the Svalbard Archipelago, her watercolours focus on the frozen land and sea and the life that it sustains.

September in Greenland, the days are shortening, the migratory birds have flown. The ochres and russet autumn colours flank the lower slopes of the fjords and yield a short, bountiful harvest of blueberries and crowberries while the upper slopes remain covered in snow.  As light fades, the fjords blacken and glaciers take on a dark presence.  It is then the polar night comes alive, the aurora dancing yellow and green above.

In contrast, Svalbard at midsummer, is the land of the midnight sun. Svalbard sits high in the Arctic Ocean halfway between Norway and the North Pole. The atmosphere is clear, the light is sharp and the rugged, fragile wilderness sees the return of birds and wildlife to breed- arctic terns, little auks, guillemots, puffins, walrus and arctic fox. The most iconic, of course, the polar bear.

Today the primary threat to the polar bear is loss of habitat and shrinking sea ice. They need the ice as a platform to catch seals. As the ice is melting earlier each year, the polar bear has less time to hunt and gain weight for the fasting summer months.

The starkness of the Arctic – its waters, life and land – sit well with the clarity and transparency unique to watercolour. From almost negligible layers, glazes can be built up like overlapping stained glass. Paint can glide and skate across the paper’s surface or sit in slowly evaporating puddles, pulling the pigment to a dense spot. Never quite knowing what will happen is part of its thrill. Even the unexpected can be embraced and developed.

For the full exhibition catalogue and more information visit www.strathearn-gallery.com, 32 West High Street, Crieff, PH7 4DL, Tel: 01764 656100