This life-sized ice sculpture of a polar bear is sitting in London's Trafalgar Square for the next week. Melting. By the end of its stay, probably all that will be left will be a bronze skeleton and a pool of water.
Created by English sculptor Mark Coreth, in association with the World Wildlife Fund, it is meant to be a powerful reminder of the beauty and fragility of the Arctic and how this vast landscape is now under threat from climate change.
The bear is a life-sized reproduction of a polar bear, complete with a bronze skeleton. The skeleton was immersed in a tank of water at -25 degrees C to encase it in a 9 ton block of ice. Then it was carved by sculptor Mark Coreth.
It's all very symbolic: the bear is 1.8 metres high, the same height as the thickness of the ice in the Arctic Ocean. Scientists have observed that ice under 2 metres thick is almost certainly too thin to survive the summer melting season, leading inevitably to a further shrinking of the remaining sea ice.
Visitors are encouraged to touch it and thus shape it themselves so that everyone who does will become sculptors--symbolic of how we all have the power to affect our delicate environment.
The artist,Mark Coreth set out for the remote Canadian Baffin Island community of Pond Inlet with fellow travellers across the spring sea-ice in search of Arctic wildlife. He went with "No expectations, no preconceptions, no demands, just open eyes, travel, look and learn, go with the flow!"
Needless to say, it was a life changing experience for him: "I feel that I have learnt so much about the relationship of man and wild life... and about the LAND ie the ICE. Ice controls every thing in the Arctic... it opens a window for life and as quickly closes it... the loss of the ice with the warming planet is going to change all that we see up here... not only will the bear suffer but the world as a whole."
Image from towleroad
There is one in Copenhagen too, in Nytorv (New Square). It was carved on December 5 and will no doubt last longer than the English one, given the differing temperatures.
Their vision is to create Bears in Squares for the centres of Oslo, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Moscow, New York, Toronto, Tokyo, Beijing and Sydney.