Nerys Levy

American, b. Wales, 1945

Arctic Sketchbook: Hornsund, Svalbard (Spitsbergen), Norway, July 2009
Antarctic sketchbook: Penguins and Elephant seals, Penguin Island, Antarctic Peninsula, December 2007
Watercolor and water-soluble ink
6 x 20 ¼ in. (15.2 x 51.4 cm)

Nerys Levy is one of a growing number of contemporary artists whose concern about the changing climate compels them to explore both poles. Levy’s maiden voyage to Antarctica in 2007 marked the beginning of a passion for ice.

“Working as a plein air painter in Polar Regions was challenging —snow, wind, cold, rough seas, polar bears. I was constantly aware of my personal safety.

In the Antarctic, very rapid sketches were the only way for me to document the region’s fauna and flora. After three minutes of exposing my fingers to the cold, I risked frost bite—and more. My equipment was limited to a sketch book, water soluble pens and crayons, a small paint box, and a water bottle carried close to the body to prevent it from freezing.

Although Svalbard was cold even in summer, it was unnaturally warm for its latitude. Consequently, the sketches crafted there were more detailed than those done in the Antarctic. But even there, safety was a consideration given that polar bears could appear on the scene at any time. I had to stay within range of my vigilant guide with his obligatory rifle at all times.”

—Nerys Levy