Polar Encounters. 200 Years of Contemporary and Historical Polar Art.


Artists at the Ends of the World:  Bonhams Hosts Polar Art Collection


London, July 2018:  On 30 July, an exhibition showcasing artists’ responses to some of the most extreme places on Earth will open to the public. Polar Encounters, hosted by Bonhams, New Bond Street, will feature contemporary art from the Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute’s Artist in Residence programme, which sends artists to both the Arctic and the Antarctic every year.

Nick Romeril, the current Friends of SPRI Artist in Residence, who created over 200 small paintings and drawings during his journey around the Antarctic Peninsula, commented:  “You can’t comprehend the sheer scale of the icebergs and blue bergs out there.” 

Alongside today’s interpretations, 200 years of Arctic art by Inuit artists and Europeans who travelled to the far north will be displayed, showing different interpretations of life at home, at camp and at sea.

Exhibition Curator, Charlotte Connelly, says, “for the communities who have lived in the Arctic for thousands of years, the polar regions are homely, while for the European explorers, first encounters with the far north felt bleak and difficult. These different perspectives are revealed through the art on display, which spans two centuries and features artists from a range of backgrounds.”

Professor Julian Dowdeswell, Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute, comments, “It is a great privilege to hold a remarkable collection of paintings of both the Arctic and the Antarctic in the Scott Polar Research Institute’s historic collection.  Our Artist in Residence programme is vital for ensuring that our collection continues to grow and reflects the changing ways we experience the Arctic and the Antarctic.”

Robert Brooks, Chairman of Bonhams, says, "Bonhams is honoured to pay host to this exhibition of extraordinary art – old and new – that captures so perfectly the majesty of the Polar regions. I hope as many people as possible take this opportunity to experience, and celebrate, the achievement of these remarkable and talented men and women."

‘Polar Encounters: 200 years of contemporary and historical polar art’ will be open to the public from 30 July until 17 August, Monday to Friday.  Entry will be free.


Polar Art collection at the Scott Polar Research Institute

Most of the collections of the Scott Polar Research Institute can be browsed online, here: https://www.spri.cam.ac.uk/museum/catalogue/


About the artists

Four artists will be exhibiting substantial bodies of work produced on the Friends of SPRI Artists in Residence scheme:  Nick Romeril (Antarctic 2017/18); Kat Austen (Arctic 2017); Shelly Perkins (Antarctic 2016/17); Julian Grater (Arctic 2016). 

A further four Antarctic Artists in Residence will be represented in the exhibition:  Lucy Carty (2015/16); Darren Rees (2014/15); John Kelly (2013/14); Emma Stibbon (2012/13).

Antarctic artists are supported by Bonhams and the Royal Navy.  Arctic artists are supported by Bonhams and One Ocean Expeditions.


About Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI)

The Scott Polar Research Institute is part of the University of Cambridge.  Founded in 1920 as a national memorial to Captain Scott and the polar party, the Institute has been an international centre for polar science and social science research and for Britain's polar heritage since then.  From rigorous scientific enquiry into the nature of ice and climate change to protecting and displaying Britain's historic polar heritage, the Scott Polar Research Institute has remained at the vanguard of polar study for nearly a century.  Discover more at www.spri.cam.ac.uk



Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest and most renowned auctioneers, offering fine art and antiques, motor cars and jewellery. The main salerooms are in London, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, with auctions also held in Knightsbridge, Edinburgh, Paris, San Francisco and Sydney. With a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 22 countries, Bonhams offers advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full list of forthcoming auctions, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, please visit www.bonhams.com.


Royal Navy

The Royal Navy has a long and proud history of exploration that has produced a rich legacy of artworks created over the centuries.  Captain Cook led three of the greatest voyages of discovery and science in the 18th century. During his second expedition (1772-1775) HMS Resolution and HMS Adventure crossed – for the first time in history – the Antarctic Circle and William Hodges, the expedition’s official draftsperson, created the earliest drawings and painting of the Antarctic. In 1956/57, HRH Prince Philip and Edward Seago visited Antarctica aboard HMY Britannia, during which Seago created dozens of paintings that are now in the Royal Collection. Today, thanks to the Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute and Bonhams, the Royal Navy continues the tradition of supporting British artists in Antarctica who return to the United Kingdom with art that communicates the grandeur, raw elemental power and beauty of Antarctica.


One Ocean Expeditions
OOE is a proudly Canadian world leader in polar exploration. Committed to environmental and social responsibility, it offers passengers personalized polar marine experiences in the most beautiful places on Earth. With a range of innovative expedition cruise itineraries in Antarctica, Canada’s Arctic and East Coast, Greenland and Norway, OOE has earned a reputation for exceptional quality, customer service, industry-leading safety standards, and unparalleled value. The organisation is a unique partner to our polar regions, committed to supporting environmental awareness and education, world-class scientific research into sensitive ecosystems, historical preservation, and the sustainment of local communities. OOE maintains ongoing affiliations with an array of scientific and educational institutions, and is proud to serve as the exclusive education, environmental science, and expedition partner of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.  Visit https://www.oneoceanexpeditions.com.


Friends of SPRI

The association of Friends was established in 1946 to provide individuals with a way of supporting the important work of the Scott Polar Research Institute. Funds are raised through subscriptions of varying levels to suit all pockets. The Friends hold a wide range of events and raise funds to provide assistance to all aspects of the Institute's work as requested by Institute staff, principally through financial and practical help for the Library, Museum and Picture Library.


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