British painter Kate Fagin has donated Mer de Glace, an oil on canvas piece of art, to UNEP to highlight the phenomenon of glacial retreat and climate change. The 3m x 3m piece was given to the United Nations Environment Programme in recognition of the organization's work, and as part of the artist's contribution to World Environment Day (WED) 2007. The artist and her husband, Anthony Fagin, a former senior UNEP employee, were present at the handing over ceremony that took place on 31 August 2007 at UNEP headquarters. Mer de Glace was inspired by a visit in September 2006 to the Mont-Blanc in Haute-Savoie in the French Alps, where the artist observed the phenomenon of melting ice and glacial retreat. The glacier on the Mont-Blanc is believed to have reduced by 40 per cent over the last 25 years, and is still melting because of global warming.
On giving the painting to UNEP Kate said, "I felt that it would heighten public awareness of climate change because it could be shown in exhibitions around the world”. "It is a good place for the art to be (with UNEP), and it is an honor for me," she added. "I am glad that the WED theme this year 'Melting Ice - A Hot Topic?' was appropriate to my work," the artist said. The painting is inspired from cubism.
It is made up of 42 individual oil paintings on canvas each measuring 18 inches square. Each of the individual paintings gives an image of melting Ice. The 42 paintings combine to form a large cube of art, more vividly conveying the reality of a receding glacier. It took the artist nine months to complete it. Anthony Fagin, who was at UNEP from 1994 to 2000, is an art lover himself and admires Benin bronze sculptures.
I asked Anthony what he felt about Kate's donation and he said: "Kate was on her own in conveying an environmental message. Not many artists are doing the same". "I am immensely proud of her work and with UNEP for recognizing the significance of her contribution," he added.
Kate shared concerns with me about the bush fire, which destroyed large tracts of ancient forest in Greece this year. And she is thinking of the subject of forest fires for her next work. Her previous works on the environment include paintings of the East Anglia Coast in her native England, "Because the coast could be lost to flooding," said Kate.
"I developed this series of paintings from ten photographs, ten pencil drawings and ten small paintings. They were made on the spot during a visit to a glacier on Mont Blanc in Haute-Savoie in the French Alps during September 2006." Kate Fagin.