Zaria Forman: Where ice meets water
‘If people can experience the sublimity of these landscapes, perhaps they will be inspired to protect and preserve them’
Zaria Forman, Whale Bay, Antarctica no.4, 2016 (from artist's website)
At a glance you may think you are looking at a photograph capturing the immense landscape of the Antarctica, but it is much more impressive than that. You are actually looking at a large scale, intricate pastel work by the artist Zaria Forman, part of a whole body of work exploring the current fragility of the Earth. Having experienced the rising sea levels in the lowest and flattest country in the world, the Maldives, and the receding glaciers in Greenland, Zaria has witnessed the effects of climate change first hand, calling it ‘our greatest global challenge.’
As a Fine Art photographer, Zaria’s mother had a great influence on her work. She spent much of her younger years following her mother to remote landscapes and this has clearly had an impact on her own work. Unfortunately, with an expedition to travel the coast of Greenland in the pipeline, a journey that would retrace the tracks of the 1869 expedition led by painter William Bradford, Zaria’s mother did not live to see it through. As agreed in her mother’s last few months Zaria took this journey upon herself, spreading her mother’s ashes along the way whilst snapping hundreds of photographs and mentally storing images of the landscape for future reference.
Zaria Forman, Drawing Whale Bay, Antarctica no.1, 2016, from artist's website
Working from the photographs taken, as well as her memory, she injects her own personal perception of the environment into each drawing, along with emotion, as she blends every shade of white and blue using only her fingertips. This meticulous detail proves time, dedication and passion has poured into each of the pastel works. At a 2015 TEDTalk, Zaria says of her artistic approach:
‘I don't use any tools and I have always used my fingers and palms to manipulate the pigment on the paper. Drawing is a form of meditation for me.’
In reference to the size of her drawings she explains the idea is to introduce ‘the same sense of awe that I experienced’ as she found the ‘sheer size of the icebergs is humbling,’ aiming to translate that to her audience, in order to make the fact of climate change more tangible.
Zaria Forman, Greenland no.62, 2012, from artist's website
Weaving together science and art, Zaria was invited to take part in an artist residency aboard the National Geographic Explorer, travelling to the Antarctica. Aiming to portray the beauty of the landscape but emphasising the fragility of it, Zaria says that ‘art impacts our emotions more effectively than a scary news report,’ in hope that her drawings will reinforce the facts.
To see more of Zaria’s tranquil landscapes and glistening icebergs head over to her website:
Or check out her TEDTalk for more of an insight into her artistic process.
Written by Louise Higgs
15th January 2017