I have recently had the pleasure of collaborating with artist Beatrice von Preussen in my capacity as Mentor & Consultant. Beatrice's love for the Natural World is highly evident in her portfolio as is her passion to inspire the next generation of conservationists to engage and value the world around us.
Artist in Residence at Battersea Zoo, Beatrice runs nature inspired workshops for children, also working with Dr Lil Stevens, an expert in Palaoezoic Palaeobotany at the Natural History Museum, looking at the relationship between art, nature, and science and how artists and scientists can benefit from working alongside one another.
Beatrice's recent trip to the Arctic, alongside a thirty-strong group of artists & scientists, has included three weeks sailing to Svalbard, on board the "Antigua", undoubtedly the trip of a lifetime.
I have been captivated by following Beatrice's visual diaries on social media and met up with Beatrice on her return to find out more about the stories behind her captivating and memorable photographic moments.
Read on to learn more about Beatrice's Arctic Adventure!
How did you end up visiting the Arctic circle?!
"Having long been fascinated by the north I was awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust grant to travel to Svalbard and take part in an expedition in the high arctic. I sailed around the archipeligo in a Tall Ship with 30 other artists and scientists from all over the world".
What is your most memorable/moving moment of the trip?
"One of our sound artists had a hydrophone which we dropped down over the side of the ship, we heard the most extraordinary sounds like early Dr Who sound effects and we thought that the microphone had gone wrong. Our amazing nature guide revealed that we were actually hearing the bearded seals singing to one another. And then we heard whale song. When I went to bed I realised that I could hear this wonderful concert from my bunk, through the metal hull of the ship".
What was the most surprising / unexpected part/discovery?
"During the time I was in Svalbard the sun never set, it just went round and round in the sky. I thought that this was going to be a problem but to my relief, although it was strange, I managed to sleep alright and didn't go mad!
I stayed in Longyearbyen for a month after the expedition and experienced the brief Arctic summer. Quite suddenly vivid green moss was covering the grey scree slopes and thousands of exquisite tiny flowers popped up all over the place".
What was the most challenging?
"I've been carrying out a fossil hunt with the micropaleontologists at the Natural History Museum. I wanted to get to a specific place to collect some limestone rocks but the weather was very bad on the only day It was possible to go. We had quite a hairy journey there, 14 miles in a small boat bumping over the huge waves. I was sitting on the side clinging on for dear life, I was terrified I was going to be pinged off the boat by a bump and you don't survive for long in that icy sea".
What was the most rewarding?
"Spending such an intense time with a diverse group of people all doing individual projects was incredibly rewarding. Everyone worked hard alongside one another sharing knowledge and ideas. Some good connections were made and collaborations seeded".
Which is your favourite piece of artwork or sketch etc from the trip?
"I made some drawings of Arctic Terns when they were attacking me, they are only quick sketches but I'm looking forward to working them up into some big paintings".
If you could pick just three of the photographs to sum up your amazing experience - which 3 would it be?
"This thing which looks like a mushroom is the inner ear bone of a seal. It is beautiful, surprising, interesting and a little bit sad".
"Me fossiling. I felt so happy and privileged to be having an experience I'd always dreamed of in a place I never imagined that I would be able to visit. I was also delighted to have actually found some fossils for the first time in my life despite years spent hacking the cliffs at Lyme Regis."
"Sailing. Silently gliding past icebergs in a beautiful ship powered by the wind".