Bear melts for World Environment Day


See science in 3D and experience a message about our changing planet through art.


The Ice Bear at Toronto for the G20 summit in June 2010. The dark bronze skeleton absorbs heat from the sun, melting the bear form the inside-out.

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A touchable, life-sized statue of a hunting polar bear will arrive at Customs House Square in Sydney later this week.

Coinciding with World Environment Day, this is the sixth stop on the Ice Bear’s global tour, which highlights the urgent threat of climate change to Arctic life.

“The message that I’m trying to give is manyfold; there’s so many metaphors tied in with this sculpture,” says wildlife sculptor Mark Coreth.

“I conceived Ice Bear when I visited the High Arctic with Inuit guides in 2007. It is where I saw my first polar bear in the wild and understood the plight of this critically endangered species. The Ice Bear message has expanded far wider and further than I could have imagined and I can’t believe we’ll be in Sydney in the southern hemisphere.”

“I was very careful to also speak to the sea ice, polar bear and polar environment scientists – the likes of Peter Wadhams at Cambridge University and Andrew Derocher, who is probably the world’s leading polar bear scientist – and explain my project to them, and they all gave it huge blessing saying it’s science in 3D.”

"It’s a performance work as well as a visual work. People can be involved, touching it while it melts.”

The public are invited to touch Sydney Ice Bear at Customs House Square, Circular Quay, from Friday 3 June as it slowly melts, revealing the bronze skeleton of a life-size polar bear, measuring 2.2 metres high and 4 metres long.

“Imagine now, this big block of ice in front of Customs House in Sydney. What I’m going to do on Friday is carve that into a polar bear. It’ll be a life-size hunting polar bear. Once I’ve finished, and I think it’ll take four or five hours to carve it, I’m then going to hand it over to the public and then it’ll take it’s own life."

“The warps of the air, the wind the elements will start to melt that bear.”

“When people go by and touch it, you feel that ice just melting under your hand. And everyone who touches that bear melts it, and the metaphor there is the human impact,” says Coreth.

Supported by the Purves Environmental Fund, Sydney Ice Bear will raise much-needed funds for the three partner environmental organisations, WWF-Australia, 1 million women and Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC).

Ice Bear will also be lit at night with LED lights, complementing Vivid Sydney’s 3D light projection at Customs House.

“We're incredibly excited to be involved in Sydney Ice Bear," says Fabia Pryor, Business Development Manager for the AYCC.

"This is a fabulous project that uses art to inspire people to act on climate change.”

“Young people will face the worst impacts of climate change if our political leaders do not make decisions that protect our future. Through projects such as Sydney Ice Bear we are calling for our politicans to secure a safe climate future and take strong action now.”

For more World Environment Day events, check out the G Events page.

Click through the image gallery below to see images of the previous Ice Bears. View in full screen mode, then click 'show info', to see the captions.