Last summer I was the first Artist to be invited to work alongside Polar scientists at the Czech Centre for Polar Ecology, Svalbard. The presentation I gave at ASSW in Prague began with descriptions of significant research experiences in extreme northern landscapes, (surrounded by deep snow and ice during a period of Polar Night/ working in relative warmth, on the edge of an uninhabited bay in the Arctic, during a period of Midnight Sun), including images of me working in the field/ Plein Air painting, amid the most incredible locations. Whilst describing the experiences which initiated awe and understanding of the Polar north, I projected images of the expressive paintings I have made in response to existing in these staggeringly beautiful and sacred spaces, which are rapidly changing due to climate change.
The director of The Centre for Polar Ecology invited me to present information about my research and paintings at a Scientific conference because he is aware of the power of the language of painting.
The symbols in my newest Arctic paintings point towards my hope for an ecological evolution: The Ouroboros, an ancient symbol of oneness, is connecting the land and the sky; the facts as we know them on Earth with the spiritual sensibility we feel in response to the mysticism of life.
The Ouroboros is powerfully encircling a golden orb, which represents an enlightened sense of awareness.
Golden awareness comes from enlightenment, which in turn comes from collaboration and hence an evolution of knowledge and openness to existing as one whole entity.
Enlightenment and knowledge are born from firsthand experience.
The elixir of life is embodied in the mythological symbol of The Philosophers Stone, which comes from an alchemical fusion of colours and delicately measured processes; from paintings and experiments.
At the conference over 700 scientists and 1 Artist congregated to present research findings and hold discussions about the state of the Arctic. Through organising ASSW, Josef Elster created an inspirational platform for international communication and a sharing of knowledge, scientific facts, spiritual sensibilities, painted visions and passionate hopes, which came together, fused and lead to a collectively greater, more enriched understanding of the Arctic and its future.