Elizabeth Philotera Bourne

A painting a day done in my studio in Laugarvatn, Iceland

I’m an unapologetic pagophile – a lover of ice. In the arctic, glacial ice ten thousand years old stands in cliffs that shimmer in impossible colors of blue. These glacial rivers then calve towering icebergs which have life spans of only two years. The paleocrystic beauty of the far north is as rich as any Tahitian sunset, and it draws me back again and again. Indeed, the two are tied together. With global warming changing the arctic, the struggle between those who would exploit its riches, and those who would preserve it becomes vital. Retreating glaciers and melting ice raise tides every where. What seems eternal is delicate, and perhaps already gone.

My work is strongly inspired by artists who’ve engaged with landscape in a way that packs an emotional reality rather than a strict depiction of landscape. They include Rockwell Kent, the unabashed romanticism of Frederick Edwin Church, the spiritual core of Nicholas Roerich’s paintings of the Himalayas, and of course, the Group of Seven who captured the heart of the Canadian north.

I believe that art must speak a deeper truth than mere representation. My own work, while incorporating depiction, also engages with a strong heart-felt reaction. For me, the artist must have a passion for their subject and a core need to communicate that emotion to the viewer. My hope is that my work, both photographs and paintings, can inspire people to love the beauty of the arctic. We need the ice. Not just for environmental reasons, but also to maintain the last truly wild, untouched place on our increasingly crowded planet.

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