Icebear melt a symbol of climate change

By Angela Case 7 November 2013
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A polar bear carved out of a 10-tonne block of ice is on display – for a limited time in Sydney, before it melts.

SYDNEYSIDERS ARE INVITED to get up close and personal with the Arctic by touching a life-sized polar bear ice sculpture in Circular Quay this weekend. The chilly creature makes its first Australian appearance as part of The Ice Bear Project, a traveling exhibit created by British artist Mark Coreth to raise awareness of climate change in the Arctic.

The bear began its short life as a bronze skeleton contained within a 10-tonne block of ice craned into Customs House Square early Friday morning. Mark and his team of sculptors began unearthing the slippery creature at 7am. By lunchtime, it was fully formed and already melting under the unseasonably warm midday sun.

Organisers say the bear’s transient nature sends an important message about the environmental impact of human-driven climate change. While the sun and wind reshape the sculpture, the actions of people play a critical role in its destruction. For a $2 donation, visitors are invited to touch the bear and feel it melting under their hands, creating a metaphor for our influence on the planet as a whole.

“When you touch the bear, you can feel that ice melting under your hand,” Mark says. “Hard touch, big impact. Light touch with the tip of your finger, minimal impact.”

As the ice melts, the bear’s bronze frame will begin to appear. This, too, is a metaphor for the environmental crisis threatening the Arctic. 

“Ultimately, there’s always going to be an Arctic,” Mark says. “But when the ice goes, it’s going to be a seriously different Arctic than the Arctic we’ve got. When the ice goes on the ice bear, there will always be a bear, but it will be a seriously different bear. It will be a skeleton, a pool of water, and a powerful message.”

People are encouraged to touch the bear to contribute to its sculpting, symbolising the humand impact.

The bear’s bronze frame will be on display in Customs House Square until 10 June, but organisers expect the sculpture to melt as early as Sunday, which is World Environment Day.

Proceeds from the Ice Bear Project benefit the World Wildlife Fund, 1 million women, and The Australian Youth Climate Coalition.

Sculptor Mark Coreth sits atop the finished product.