The Ice Bear Project

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Mark Coreth's Ice Bear Project sculpture in Trafalgar Square, London, with Nelson's Column in the background
© The Ice Bear Project Ltd

Art in service of the environment

Just outside the WWF International Arctic Programme's Arctic Tent at COP 15, visitors were able to see a life-size sculpture of a male hunting polar bear.

The statue stood at 1.8 metres high – as high as the disappearing arctic sea ice is thick.

In touching this sculpture visitors made a direct connection with the polar bear and its ice-locked home.

As many hands helped to warm and melt the bear, revealing the bronze skeleton within, this changing sculpture brought home to each person how people have the power to affect the delicate balance of nature.

 

The strength of art and science

While science underpins all of WWF’s work, the organisation recognises it takes more than just the facts to reach people.

The power of art melded with science made for a good opportunity for both WWF and the Ice Bear Project to make a real impact during the climate negotiations in Copenhagen.

The Copenhagen Ice Bear was carved on Nytorv Square by sculptor Mark Coreth and his team from a ten tonne block of ice that encased the 500kg bronze skeleton.

When it was finished at 2pm on Saturday December 5 it formed part of the opening event of the WWF International Arctic Programme Tent in central Copenhagen for the UN Climate Change Conference.

 

The inspiration

Mark witnessed the effects of climate change when he first travelled to Baffin Island during November 2007.

He knew that few people would ever experience the Arctic for themselves, but realised that he could bring the Arctic to everyone in the form of an Ice Bear sculptural event.

 

Why choose the polar bear?

  • Polar bears are unlikely to survive as a species if there is an almost complete loss of summer sea-ice cover. The five countries where polar bears live agreed this year they cannot meet their obligations to protect the bears if the ice goes.
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  • The summer sea-ice cover in the Arctic Ocean has both shrunk and thinned by 45% since the 1970s, losing 70% of its former volume. It is projected to disappear completely in less than 30 years.
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  • The negative impacts on both the peoples and animals of the Arctic are likely to be far greater than any benefits they may gain from a warming Arctic, as climate changes threaten to undermine ecosystems and cultures that have endured for thousands of years.

 

 / ©: The Ice Bear Project Ltd
The Ice Bear Project team has travelled extensively across the Arctic to help capture the power and movement of these mammals in sculpture.
© The Ice Bear Project Ltd
 / ©: The Ice Bear Project Ltd
Mark Coreth sculpted the original Ice Bear skeleton in his studio from plaster and armature wire. From this, his team created the Ice Bear bronze, a sculpture that is over three metres long, the size of an adult male polar bear.
© The Ice Bear Project Ltd

Polar bears and their habitat should be meltingly beautiful, not melting away. A forlorn bear on a shrinking iceberg may seem like an exaggeration of a complex problem but actually it stands as a symbol of how habitats are shrinking the world over and none more urgently than the beautiful and fragile Arctic. Do join me in supporting the Ice Bear Project and helping raise the temperature of the debate …
Stephen Fry, actor and supporter of the Ice Bear Project

It is wonderful when art and science can be brought together – the Ice Bear Project is showing that the allegiance can be powerful. With the help of our strong behind the scenes team and our sponsors Panasonic, Nokia and the WWF the Ice Bear will speak.
Ice Bear sculptor Mark Coreth

Video: The Ice Bear Project

Video: creating an Ice Bear skeleton

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