Melting Ice / Rising Tides

9 May 2024 to 15 September 2024 Towner Eastbourne

A person bundled in winter clothing stands on a ship, painting in a sketchbook. They are surrounded by an icy, snow-covered landscape with a distant mountain, icebergs, and frozen water. The person is holding a brush and a container that appears to hold paint.
Emma Stibbon conducting fieldwork in Svalbard, 2022. Photo by Tristan Duke.

A solo exhibition by Emma Stibbon exploring the beauty and fragility of our planet.

In 2024, Towner Eastbourne will present an ambitious solo exhibition by Emma Stibbon that explores the beauty and fragility of our planet. Melting Ice / Rising Tides is Stibbon’s first large-scale show at a major UK institution and will look at the warming environment of the polar regions and the impact this is ultimately having on the changing UK coastline, focusing on the Sussex shoreline local to Towner. For a number of years she has been observing and recording the precariousness of the polar ice sheets and glaciers and the profound effect that ice melt is having on global sea level rise. 

The exhibition will feature as its centrepiece Cliff Fall, 2023, a monumental and ambitious wall drawing and installation representing the rock falls that are an increasingly common occurrence on the UK coastline. Alongside it will be shown a selection of Stibbon’s large-scale drawings and prints depicting vast ice fields and towering bergs, made in response to recent field trips to Svalbard in the High Arctic, and the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. The exhibition’s narrative around coastal movement, change and erosion, will be completed with a range of new drawings of the sea and coastline of Sussex.

Stibbon’s work is provoked by the wonder and drama of nature but underpinned by contemporary anxieties about our precarious future. Her work is grounded in research gathered ‘in the field’; recording observations through drawing, photography and film, which is then developed into larger scale works in her studio. The physical materials of site such as chalk, carbon and sea water, are often brought into her drawings or used as her drawing media, evoking the elusiveness of the subject in the material fabric of her work.

The show will create an immersive experience for the viewer, aiming to act as a stark reminder that the seemingly remote events of polar ice sheet melt is directly connected with the changes that we are witnessing in our local, more familiar UK landscape.

"As an artist I am a witness to what is happening in my lifetime - the challenge is how to render this uncertain future to audiences. Whilst scientific data clearly demonstrates dramatic increases in global warming is leading to Polar ice melt and rising sea levels, there is this growing gap between our understanding and our willingness to change our behaviour. I believe and hope that creative methods of communication can engage our emotions and help galvanize us into action” said Emma Stibbon.

Further Information: Towner Eastbourne