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Thursday 29 September 2016

Antarctica Artist In Residence: Chris Dobrowolski Documents The Coldest Continent On Earth

Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, driest place in the world. Most of the continent is covered by ice over a mile thick, wind speeds can reach 199 miles per hour, temperatures can fall as low as -89.2 °C and even the Sahara desert gets more rain.  

As well as penguins, Antarctica is home to a few scientists, engineers and medical professionals all at the top of their game

Every day is about survival. Every day is about saving the planet. 

So obviously what the continent really needed was an artist in residence.  

Artist and sculptor Chris Dobrowolski left his Colchester home to join the British Antarctic Survey where, for three and a half months, Chris lived and worked alongside the scientists, medical professionals, researchers and crew members, trying to experiment creatively whilst trying to survive. 

He discovered that sometimes it's very difficult to justify your position as an artist whilst everyone around you is a hero. Even if you can build a sledge out of gilt picture frames.

Chris assembled the 12 foot Nansen sledge out of frames he had shipped out specifically for the purpose, then, armed with boxes of Antarctic-themed toy figures, plastic penguins, Ladybird books and Action Men he set out across the polar ice to capture the essence of this snow bound southern wilderness.


Taking photographs of his toys dwarfed by the vast landscape he also developed ideas for the dioramas he would build on his return to his Essex studio. 

Antarctica is the theatre show Chris has made from all of these experiences, the highs and lows of a land synonymous with failure.

Told with his trademark warm, chirpy geniality and self effacing humour, Antarctica is the fascinating tale of Chris" adventures. 

The story is illustrated with slides that convey his efforts to relate to the coldest continent on earth - and his attempt to justify his existence there, whilst everyone around him tries to save the planet. 

It's an adventure story about overcoming hardships and celebrating difference via tales of cannibalistic ducks, his ladybird books and that sledge. 

Sometimes it's very difficult to work out what's real in a land where you simply can't believe your eyes. 

Chris Dobrowolski, is bringing his fascinating and humorous tales of life in Antarctica to Brighton Dome on 15 November. See brightondome.org for more details.


by: Mike Cobley


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