Polar Bear on Thin Ice: Melting sculpture represents plight of people and polar bears in the North

For most of us, the Arctic is a wild and fascinating ocean of ice. For people who live there, it’s a rich, vast land that represents freedom. Whether we live in this territory or south of it, the Canadian Arctic – which makes up nearly 40 per cent of our country and two-thirds of its coast line – is an integral part of our national identity.
Unfortunately, the natural beauty of the Arctic is changing at an astounding rate – changes that will, sadly, alter the icy landscape permanently. Climate change is happening twice as fast in the Arctic compared to anywhere else in the world, and it’s causing the sea ice – which is fundamental to Arctic life – to disappear, and turning life upside down for northern species and communities.
As we approach the twenty-first United Nations Conference of the Parties on climate change (COP 21), Equiterre and WWF-Canada are teaming up to present an art project called Polar Bear on Thin Ice. The event will illustrate the impacts of climate disruption using an ice sculpture of a polar bear, an outdoor video projection, and a conference on Arctic issues.
Of bronze and ice
The original Polar Bear on Thin Ice was created by British artist Mark Coreth in 2009 to be presented at the COP15 in Copenhagen. The art piece made out of plaster, rubber, ceramic, wax and bronze weighed 6,000 kg covered in ice and 400 kg in its skeletal state. Representing a life-size polar bear, this spectacular sculpture is completely captivating from the moment it is carved, up until the ice melts away to reveal the skeleton.
The piece will be shown from November 24 to January 4 near the Maison du développement durable (50 Ste. Catherine St. West) in Montreal. Volunteers will be available to answer questions from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, and from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.

Sculptors carving Polar Bear on Thin Ice, 2013, Montreal, Canada © Alexandre Campeau
Sculptors carving Polar Bear on Thin Ice, 2013, Montreal, Canada © Alexandre Campeau

The public can witness the “creation” of the ice bear from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on November 23. Watch as sculptors work hard to shape the most realistic polar bear made of ice you will see.
To support the amazing art piece, a video will be screened on the wall of St-Laurent metro station and on the wall of the Université du Québec à Montréal’s (UQAM) Président-Kennedy pavilion. That projection will enlighten passersby on the impacts of global warming on Arctic biodiversity and communities.
Today’s Arctic life
In addition to the public art installation and to explore Arctic species and communities and the precariousness of their home in the North in even greater detail, we will present a conference on November 25, from 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. This conference, Arctic is warming – Consequences on species and communities, will introduce the already complex situation for species and people trying to adapt to rapid climate change. The two guest speakers, Paul Crowley, Director of WWF-Canada’s Arctic program, and Steven Guilbeault, co-founder and and senior director for Équiterre, will take you through the daily struggles that face Arctic inhabitants – whether they have fins, two legs or four.
RSVP your spot for the conference.
A boy in a red winter coat and black toque leaping across chunks of melting arctic sea ice, Nunavut, Canada.
A boy leaping across chunks of melting arctic sea ice, Nunavut, Canada. © Paul Nicklen/National Geographic Stock / WWF-Canada

To be part of the Polar Bear on Thin Ice volunteer squad, contact us at 514-394-1106 or [email protected].
We look forward to meeting you around the Polar Bear on Thin Ice!