Photographs of The Melting Arctic Polar Ice Cap by TIMO LIEBER

20 - 23 February 2017
Monday to Thursday: 10am - 5.30pm

It was a long held passion of aerial photographer Timo Lieber to capture the impact of Arctic warming and translate it into beautiful photographic images, while alerting the wider world to this amazing yet disturbing occurrence in the Arctic.

Timo has created these striking and emotive fine art photographs, in a collection entitled THAW, which are exhibited for the first time by Bonhams in London's Bond Street. THAW is a series of eleven large-scale photographs, the largest of which measure 1.7 x 1.7 meters, interpreting the fragility of our planet.

THAW is more than just a photographic project – it is a collaboration between fine art photography and the scientific work of several leading glaciologists.

THAW invites the question: What is behind this beauty? How does it affect us?

Timo's aim is to try and assist in answering these questions through this project. His mission is to help make the world more aware of the rapid melting in the Arctic, which undoubtedly is escalated by man's contribution to global warming.

Timo shares his concern about the threat to the Arctic by photographing the surface lakes and creating these ethereal, pure and powerful images. This exhibition is an expression of photographic art, science and nature working in parallel.

The project was two years in the planning, with the assistance of Professor Alun Hubbard of Aberystwyth University and Professor Julian Dowdeswell and Dr. Poul Christoffersen at the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge.
The images were taken in July 2016, when Timo visited the research team on the ice cap in Greenland, photographing melt lakes both from small planes and helicopters.
The pilots covered several hundred miles, flying over the vast ice sheet.

The THAW images are about capturing the fine details of a landscape using a 100 megapixel Phase One camera to achieve the incredible resolution for the scale prints.

The lakes are increasing in size as each year passes, and with that foremost in his mind, Timo seized the opportunity to document their existence by creating this exhibition of photographs. Reflecting his passionate commitment to raising the awareness of the Arctic's environmental challenges, he will be making a donation of a percentage from the sales of these pictures to the Scott Polar Research Institute. This is to help support their essential work. It is paramount to Timo that THAW in some small way contributes to the SPRI as they annually monitor the changes to the Arctic ice cap, documenting the scientific evidence of global warming.

Timo Lieber says of his experience of creating THAW:

"The environment is a key ingredient in all my photographic work. Having traveled to the Arctic numerous times and seeing the rate of change there, I had the idea of creating this new series."

"THAW is more than just a photography project – it is a collaboration between science, nature and our ability to discuss it through photographs.
I visited the scientists in the camp on the ice cap and was overwhelmed by the scale of the landscape and the enormity of associated problems. All of that I brought together in THAW."

"THAW showcases the rapidly growing number of blue lakes and rivers that form on the Greenland ice cap – one of the most inaccessible areas on earth. Here, in the pristine landscape, stripped to the bare minimum of colors and shapes, the dramatic impact of climate change is more obvious than anywhere else in the world. I teamed up with scientists from Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University as well as a scientist behind BBC's Frozen Planet series to shoot the images."

"I am delighted that Bonhams loved the idea of being the first to show the photographs in London and kindly donated their main show room on Bond Street – even before I shot a single frame."

Matthew Girling, Global CEO of Bonhams says:

"Timo Lieber's haunting images effortlessly capture the stunning beauty of the Arctic, at the same time emphasizing its fragility. Bonhams is proud to play host to an artist whose work reminds us so compellingly of our shared responsibility to safeguard the future of such an extraordinary part of the planet."

Michael Benson, Director of Candelestar, Founding Director of Photo London and Director of Prix Pictet

"It is incredibly difficult to make compelling photographs of the Arctic icecap.
The compromised beauty of the place has attracted photographers by the score but all too often the results are pretty confections that collapse into cliché. Timo Lieber's photographs skilfully avoid that trap. They are beautiful objects, of course they are, but they also have something important to say about the environmental disaster that is unfolding at an alarming rate in the polar regions. The fact that Timo's narrative is underpinned by a clear understanding of the science involved punches home the importance of what he has to say. It is a story that we ignore at our peril. "

Prof. Julian Dowdeswell, Director, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge says:

"Timo's images illustrate the dramatic changes we have been observing in the Arctic during the early 21st century. The Greenland Ice Sheet has been losing mass rapidly and is a major contributor to global sea-level rise. This is likely to continue over the coming decades through both surface melting and the production of icebergs."

Prof. Alun Hubbard, Aberystwyth University, says:

"I am fascinated by Timo's aerials - they are visually striking indeed but for me, they also capture the bleak, elemental power of the ice and up until recently, its symbiotic relationship with the Arctic climate. The photographs beautifully illustrate the sublime patterns and processes between water and sediments and their complex interplay with the melting ice surface from which they originate. These processes are intriguing – and I am as beguiled by them now as I was when I first started researching them in Greenland over a decade ago."

Key facts:

• The lakes are in the Greenland ice sheet, which covers 1.7 million square kilometers and is less stable and more sensitive to climate change than previously thought.

• It is the second-largest ice sheet in the world, covering an area roughly eight times the size of the United Kingdom.

• If it were to be lost altogether, the ice sheet contains enough ice to raise sea levels by more than 7 metres.

• Since 2009, the Greenland ice sheet has been losing an estimated 380,000,000,000 tons of ice annually, which is three times more than the contribution from Antarctica.

• The surface lakes are now appearing much further inland, and at higher altitudes, than recorded in the past.

• They can grow to several square kilometers in size.

• The recorded extent of surface melting in the past decade clearly shows that the ice sheet is responding to Earth's changing climate.

• Surface melt water can drain all the way down to the bedrock forming concealed lakes under the ice.

• This means that atmospheric warming can reach thousands of meters below the ice sheet − warming the glacial base and increasing its rate of flow.

• All of which is alarming the scientists who are monitoring the changes.

The Greenland ice sheet is not just a stark, frigid wilderness perched at the top of the globe, it is a vast frozen reservoir of fresh water – one that offsets 7 meters of coastal flooding around the planet. In the past two decades, that reservoir has shifted from a steady state in balance with its climate, to one in which it is now losing on average 3.8 billion tons of ice annually. As Arctic temperatures continue to rise, vast azure melt lakes form across its surface, rapidly draining through the ice sheet, lubricating its bed, causing the ice to flow faster towards the ocean where it melts and calves icebergs.


Timo Lieber

Timo Lieber is a London-based aerial and landscape photographer and is best known for his distinctive take on our world from above. He is inspired both by the environment and the interplay of elements that form some of nature's most incredible shapes and patterns.
While many of Timo's earlier works show the beauty of vast, untouched landscapes, ranging from the Arctic Circle to remote deserts, his current work explores the human interaction with nature and the complexity of its impact.

Through his photographs, Timo attempts to look beyond the obvious, and invites the viewer to embark on a visual journey together. Although captured in every finest detail, the subjects of his large-scale photographs are often shrouded in mystery. Timo aims to intertwine the mystery and deep revelation, and create unique images that transcend the borders between figurative and abstract.

Timo's work has been exhibited in the UK and in Continental Europe and his images are held in both corporate and private collections.

Timo is a winner of the 2013 EPSON International Pano Award.

Timo is originally from Germany and now lives in London with his wife and son.


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