A giant copy of the Leonardo da Vinci’s famous sketch Vitruvian Man has been appeared just 800 kilometres from the North Pole. It is not an unknown civilization’s trace or a mysterious message from aliens but a new artwork by a Los Angeles-based artist John Quigley which was specially created for Greenpeace. The installation was titled Melting Vitruvian Man and constructed to draw attention to the considerable climate changes that cause sea ice melt in Arctic.
For this work, the Greenpeace icebreaker ‘Arctic Sunrise’ became Quigley’s floating studio; with her help several kilometres of copper strips, which are normally used to create solar panels, were delivered on the ice. Working in freezing conditions (this is one of the most remote and challenging environments on the planet) and using copper strips, Quigley with the assistance of volunteers from the Arctic Sunrise crew recreated the giant copy of da Vinci’s 500 year-old drawing. The size of this giant artwork is equal to four Olympic swimming pools (each of them is 50 metres long and 25 metres wide). All materials were removed after construction and the copper will be reused.
‘We came here to create the Melting Vitruvian Man, after da Vinci’s famous sketch of the human body,’ John Quigley says, ‘because climate change is literally eating into the body of our civilisation. When he did this sketch it was the Enlightenment, the Renaissance, the dawn of this innovative age that continues to this day, but our use of fossil fuels is threatening that.’
Quigley’s artwork kick-starts a month-long expedition for the Arctic Sunrise and her crew, which sees the ship facilitate a scientific research project by scientists from Cambridge University on an expedition to measure sea ice thickness.
John Quigley is an internationally known artist, producer and activist. His unique mix of human installation and aerial photography brings together communities to create large-scale messages for the common good. In 2008, he created a giant portrait of Nelson Mandela as part of the 90th birthday celebrations in South Africa. You can appreciate his works here.
Photographs by Nick Cobbing / Greenpeace