Where Polar Bears Reign

by Kiernan Antares

#17P-007-130-BW

24″ x 30″ Acrylic Mixed Media

on Gallery Wood Panel

Artwork Statement

This project began with an intention to contribute good will into the world, but as I move more and more into it, I am reminded that one of the things that was a part of me from when I was a little girl, was to go into the stillness, the silence and to sense, listen and feel the presence of God in all things.

The sun, the moon, the stars, the land; the rivers and creeks I walked and listened to, the lakes and oceans I would swim in or watch the ripples and tides, the trees and leaves that whisper in their steadfast presence… everything would connect and fill me somehow.

And, even though I am connecting virtually across Canada’s nation, I can still listen, feel, and sense the spirit of the place… then paint and write the impressions that come. So, now it seems to me that it is not I contributing to the energy, but simply being an interpreter… bringing forth the beauty, power, wisdom, love and grace of our Creator and the LAND-SEA-SKY.

Where Polar Bears Reign—an abstract representation of the migratory path of the ‘Lords of the Arctic’ through Churchill, Manitoba to the waters of the Hudson Bay, where their livelihood is governed by the North winds. Here, in the ‘Polar Bear Capital of the World, they rule and they roam the lands of the towns and the beaches along the shore, while they wait for the annual ice bridges to form. Inland they provoke both respect and fear in the townspeople. Out scaling the wild winter ice and sea, their world of hunting seal is isolation and deafening silence.

I could spend years exploring the vast lands, history, peoples, and challenges across the territories and provinces that make up Canada, but I find myself having to streamline greatly to stay within my project objectives. With each one I’m learning to fine tune and let my research lead me to something that speaks to my heart.

In this piece for Manitoba, the province bordered by Ontario to the east and Saskatchewan to the west with landscapes of lakes and rivers, mountains, forests and prairies, I discovered the land of the polar bears—where beasts of might and majesty are coming more into contact with humans as a result of climate change.

What does the future hold for both humans and nature, where melting sea ice is forcing these Kings to live more on dry land?

I learned of the dangers for the small towns like Churchill, where there are about as many bears as people:

“Living with polar bears is growing more risky, for both species, in a future being written by climate change… Scientists say the starving bears are resorting to risky and atypical behaviours, such as cannibalism, and are wandering far inland, where they come into closer proximity with people in the small communities across the north.” ~ The Guardian

While there are a great many disturbing issues with the polar bears interacting with the human population, there are also some beautiful and poignant moments taking place.

Take for example, artist Kal Barteski who has a deep love for these Kings of the Arctic. Renown for her fascination and hauntingly beautiful paintings of them, she was invited by the television show ‘Wild Obsession’ to go on a quest observing polar bears in the Tundra, near Churchill, Manitoba. This was a dream come true for her following a very dark time in her life facing a debilitating illness in which being able to paint became too painful. Her paintings of bears actually saved her life as it allowed her to raise the money needed to go to Europe for the medical care she needed.

In the episode called ‘Wild Obsession S01E05 Polar Bears – Kings of the North’, Barteski’s love, compassion and concern for the bears was evident, genuine and touching.

When I finished this painting I went back to researching articles and images of polar bears for inspiration for its title. One image in particular caught my attention, a book cover called, ‘Waiting for Dancer’, and I felt that it resembled the essence of my painting at a glance. Can you see what I mean? The book (available via amazon) is another beautiful example of the spirit of the bear.
‘Waiting for Dancer’ written by Dennis Compayre and photos by Andrew Bazeley

The title of Compayre’s book comes from the name of a bear he saw every November, when the bears travel through Churchill to wait for ice on Hudson Bay to freeze, he said.

 

The pair met up regularly over the course of about 20 years and built a relationship around a game of peek-a-boo they played.

 

“I met [Dancer] when he was a very young lad, probably about three months old,” Compayre said. “I could tell he was a bit different from the other bears.”

 

Their meetings developed into a bit of a dance.

 

“We’d play this game where in the back of the buggy, there’s a railing where if I duck down, he couldn’t see me,” said Compayre. “If he couldn’t see me, he’d stand up on his hind legs and get a better look and sort of wobble backwards.”

 

Either Compayre would find Dancer or sometimes Dancer would find him. After about five years of not seeing each other, Compayre remembers one particularly moving meet-up with the bear.

 

“I scratched the frost off [my buggy’s window] and I had a look, and there’s this big nose, this face about a foot from mine. Soon as the bear saw me, he started dancing backwards,” said Compayre. “He found me after all these years.”

 

~ Excerpt from CBC article, Churchill guide chronicles adventures with polar bears in new book

If you want to learn more about the issues do a google search on Churchill polar bears. There is lots of information. If you’d like to support non-invasive measures to help the bears please consider donating to the Polar Bear Fund at https://www.polarbearfund.ca/

Where Polar Bears Reign—regarded as the embodiment of the spirit of the North, an animal who possess ancient wisdom and powers. Fearless and able to find their way back from the brink, these kings ring true of purity of spirit, with strength in the face of adversity, they symbolize birth, death and transformation. For eons of time the native tribes have held the polar bear dear as an ally and spirit helper.

May we leave legacies of beauty, wisdom, peace and love… within, around, above, and below each other, all creatures great and small. And, may we respect, honour, care and restore the spirit of the earth, holding it dear as we live upon it.

Where Polar Bears Reign

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