One day, Albert Einstein – that grey-haired master of imagination and thinker of all things outside the box – had something to say. “Creativity,” he mused, “is contagious. Pass it on.”
His theory of relativity must not have been the only thing he got right. Indeed it seems time and again that culture and humanity crave the creative outlets that breathe life into the blank canvases of our world; inspiring others to imagine the yet unimaginable, to do the yet undone.
Einstein’s words rang true this past weekend when over 35 artists from 8 different countries, assembled along 600 meters of open white walls in Barcelona. Their common goal: to paint the Arctic, a place far from the bustling sunny Spanish streets, yet which affects the fabric of all our lives no matter where we call home.
An artist paints their interpretation of the Arctic for the Urban ‘Art Festival’ for the Arctic in Barcelona.
Their art comes at a harrowing time for the Arctic. Rebounding from one of the warmest winters on record in the high north, the Arctic this summer is not only facing threats from a desperate oil industry, but also, as a recent report shows, a fleet of destructive fishing vessels is poised to rake its trawling nets across previously untouched Arctic sea scapes, putting at risk an ecosystem science has yet to fully understand.
Urban ‘Art Festival’ for the Arctic in Barcelona, with more than 35 artists painting around 600 meters of walls (1.500 square meters).
Urban ‘Art Festival’ for the Arctic in Barcelona, with more than 35 artists painting around 600 meters of walls (1.500 square meters). The artists from 8 different countries painted their interpretation of the Arctic, and asked for its protection.
Yet, these 35 artists are far from alone.
For the past month, people of all ages from over 40 countries across the globe have been picking up their pencils and paint brushes to express their vision of the future of the Arctic. Filled with narwhals, walruses, aurora borealis and polar bears, their art has come to life through an International Poster Contest. These posters will be used to communicate the People’s collective call for Arctic protection to political leaders, and in mid May this year, three artists will be chosen to join Greenpeace in the Arctic to help shine a spotlight on the beauty and plight of this vulnerable yet fascinating part of our world.
“Save the Arctic” by Eugen Zernickel, Germany (March 2016). An International Poster Contest for the Arctic has gained over 2000 submissions in an effort to raise awareness of the industrial threats the Arctic is facing and the diversity of species that call the Arctic home. The posters will be used to communicate to politicians the global call to protect the Arctic, and three contest winners will travel to Svalbard with Greenpeace in the ongoing Save The Arctic campaign.
“The Magical Arctic” by Isa Hänninen, 19, Finland.
As the eco-friendly paint dried on the walls of Barcelona, the 1000th poster was submitted to the contest, a simple beautiful web of interconnected Arctic life from a Swedish artist. 1000 acts of creative expression for the Arctic. And with three weeks to go in the contest, that creativity is just starting to spread.
“Arctic Animals” by Lina Lofstrand, 28, Sweden.
“The future,” some have said, “is unwritten.” Perhaps in fact the future is undrawn, unpainted and undesigned. In the dynamic and unfolding changes in the Arctic, history may reveal that together with the hopes and dreams of ordinary people, it’s future can still be created.
Check out this video of Arctic art in Barcelona
Submissions to the Poster Contest end April 30.
Ethan Gilbert is a volunteer coordinator at Greenpeace Nordic. He is based in Copenhagen.