Climate paintings

In 2009 I completed the Painter’s Studio course at Artstation in Ponsonby, Auckland (now called Studio One), taught by Matthew Browne and Kathryn Stevens. During this year I researched climate change and global warming with the aim of incorporating this topic into my paintings. I wanted to explore how, as an artist doing primarily abstract works, I could respond to concerns about the environment and express this in my work. It was an overwhelming topic which provided interesting but somewhat alarming reading. To make sense of it, I looked at  what other artists had done in this area, weather patterns and how they are depicted, and how scientists describe the different parts of our world.

Over the year I did a series of paintings each inspired by the different “spheres” used to describe parts of our environment:

Cryosphere – the portions of the Earth’s surface where water is in solid form – sea ice, lake ice, snow, glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets.

Troposphere – lowest portion of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Biosphere – the regions of the Earth’s crust and atmosphere occupied by living organisms.

Anthrosphere – the part of the environment that is made or modified by humans for use in human activities.

There were four large paintings for each sphere and a series of three smaller works for each sphere.

Troposphere, acrylic and metallic leaf on linen, 2009
Troposphere, acrylic and metallic leaf on linen, 2009

In Troposphere, twisting and turning weather map symbols suggest the fluctuating climate and a narrow silver circle symbolises the thin layer of gases that surround our planet.

Cryosphere, acrylic on canvas, 2009
Cryosphere, acrylic on canvas, 2009

Cryosphere features a map of Antarctica, it’s edges only lightly defined in pencil, blurred and indistinct as ice sheets become more vulnerable to warmer temperatures.

I did a large series of small works inspired by Antarctica and the Arctic. I found this such a fascinating area that I am still exploring this theme in more recent works. Unfortunately New Zealand has suspended its programme which sent artists to Antarctica.

Biosphere, acrylic on linen, 2009
Biosphere, acrylic on linen, 2009

In Biosphere a tree disintegrates into a complex background. I was thinking of the debates and controversy about increasing deforestation globally when I painted this.

Antrhosphere, acrylic on jute, 2009
Antrhosphere, acrylic on jute, 2009

Anthrosphere is filled with the fiery warmth of the sun and echoes of man-made structures.

Anthrosphere triptych, acrylic on linen, 2009
Anthrosphere triptych, acrylic on linen, 2009
Artstation exhibition
Climate spheres, Artstation exhibition 2009
2009 climate sketches
2009 climate sketches