'Harp Seal' by Jennifer Hayes

Elysium Arctic

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Join the Elysium team on a breathtaking visual journey through the Arctic wilderness in this online exhibition.

Explore the icy realms of the Arctic, Earth's northernmost region with this online exhibition

Experience the exhibition with our online curator-led tour

 

About Elysium

In 2015 a team of explorers, photographers and scientists journeyed to the High Arctic of Svalbard, Greenland and Iceland to document the visible environmental changes caused by a warming climate. Together they created Elysium Arctic, a marriage of art and science capturing the threatened icons of the polar north – majestic icebergs and glaciers, playful wildlife and stunning views of land and sea.

 

The Elysium team saw the devastating impact of climate change in the earth's northernmost region and are sharing the message of what they witnessed with the wider world.

Expedition Director Michael Aw diving into Arctic waters. Image Jennifer Hayes, Svalbard, 2015.

Expedition Director Michael Aw diving into Arctic waters. Image Jennifer Hayes, Svalbard, 2015.

'Polar Pioneer', the Elysium Arctic expedition vessel, approaches to pick up the team. Image Michael Aw, Greenland, 2015.

'Polar Pioneer', the Elysium Arctic expedition vessel, approaches to pick up the team. Image Michael Aw, Greenland, 2015.

Mixing artists and scientists with a common objective – exploring and celebrating the Arctic – has the magical effect of amplifying the power of both.

Dr Sylvia Earle, Oceanographer and Chief Scientist of Elysium Arctic

The Elysium projects are run by Michael AW, internationally acclaimed wildlife photographer, explorer and ocean advocate. Michael believes that art can inspire people to take action to mitigate climate change and save some of the most vulnerable places on earth. Braving sub-zero temperatures, sea ice and some very curious polar bears, the Elysium team has produced a breathtaking visual journey through the Arctic.
Whatever you choose to do with your life, you can – and should – explore the world

Dr Sylvia Earle

Dr Sylvia Earle celebrated her 80th birthday by snorkelling in the Arctic Ocean. Image Michael Aw, Svalbard, 2015.Dr Sylvia Earle celebrated her 80th birthday by snorkelling in the Arctic Ocean. Image Michael Aw, Svalbard, 2015.

Dr Sylvia Earle celebrated her 80th birthday by snorkelling in the Arctic Ocean. Image Michael AW, Svalbard, 2015

Ocean pioneer Dr Sylvia Earle joined Michael AW as chief scientist on Elysium Arctic. Nicknamed ‘Her Deepness’ by The New Yorker, Sylvia’s love for the ocean has placed her at the forefront of marine science since the 1960s. She has led 70 expeditions, authored over 150 publications and logged more than 7,000 hours underwater – including as leader of the all-female team on submerged habitat, Tektite II.

Sylvia’s tenacity helped her overcome challenges and break world records. In 1968, Sylvia made history by becoming the first woman to pilot and ‘lock out’ (enter and leave the chamber) of a submersible – while she was four months pregnant with her third child! In 1979, she set the record for the deepest untethered seafloor walk in a metal ‘JIM’ suit, descending 381m underwater off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii.

Today, Sylvia is a respected scientist, educator and founder of ocean conservation program Mission Blue. She celebrated her 80th birthday on the Elysium Arctic expedition with cake and a snorkel in the world’s northernmost waters. 

The Elysium team staged a ‘beach party’ to raise awareness of climate change in the Arctic region. Image Michael Aw, Svalbard, 2015.

At 82°N, the northernmost point of the Elysium expedition, the team bravely stripped to their swimsuits to pose in an ‘Arctic Beach Party’ photo shoot. These photographs were a tongue-in-cheek take on the Arctic’s possible future, if sea ice continues to melt at its current rate.
Dr Sylvia Earle poses with a cocktail to demonstrate the possible future of the warming Arctic. Image Michael Aw, Svalbard, 2015.

This was the coldest day of the expedition, with temperatures down to -3ºC. Sipping cocktails in the icy Arctic wind, the beach party was very short-lived – but long enough to take some unforgettable photographs. Activism is never boring!

Teamwork

We know James Cook as a great cartographer and navigator, but what do we know about the man himself? And what do we know of the botanist Joseph Banks and others on the Endeavour voyage? Who was Tupaia the Polynesian who joined Cook's crew? Here you can find out more about the people who joined the Endeavour crew and those who influenced the voyage.

Laura's comments

To start with 'we know James Cook as a great cartographer and navigator' is assumed knowledge. It would be good if a sentence or so is dedicated to exactly why Cook is specifically known for this. Either that or just start with 'Who was Cook?' or something similar and then later expand why he is known for this. 

Suggested recast: Here you can find out more about the people on board Endeavour and those who influenced the voyage. 

 

The gravest danger lies in inaction. Our narrow window of opportunity to avert unimaginable harm is rapidly shrinking, along with the Arctic sea ice. However, there are things you can do right now that can help slow these global climate changes.

Michael AW, Principal Photographer

Launching the Video Plankton Recorder to investigate Arctic plankton population levels. Image Pu Wen Foo, Svalbard, 2015.

Launching the Video Plankton Recorder to investigate Arctic plankton population levels. Image Pu Wen Foo, Svalbard, 2015.

Sometimes everyday tools are just as useful as expensive ones – the Elysium team found that one of their $300 cameras recorded plankton samples better than a $3,000 camera!
The Elysium team works on the Video Plankton Recorder. Image Pu Wen Foo, Svalbard, 2015

The Elysium team works on the Video Plankton Recorder. Image Pu Wen Foo, Svalbard, 2015

Michael Aw believes that a group of committed citizens can change the world. With curiosity, ingenuity and determination, anyone can explore the ocean and contribute to the research that will save our planet.
We all have a responsibility to help the planet – it’s the only one we have.
At the Australian National Maritime Museum, we’re working to save our oceans for future generations with new programs on marine environmental sustainability and ocean science (SOS). Two direct actions we’ve taken to reduce our impact are phasing out single-use plastics throughout the museum and installing the second largest set of solar panels in Sydney on the roof of Wharf 7.

Can you make a change and help save our oceans?

Discover More

Love Elysium Arctic? Create and learn with our fun-filled arts and craft activities perfect for kids inspired by the exhibition. Listen to legendary oceanographer Dr Sylvia Earle as she shares her own stories and hopes for the future of the world's ocean.

Sponsors

A reflective polar bear at 81°33.643’N, 18°33.129’. Image Andreas Jaschek, Svalbard, 2015.