the artist and the curious case of the vanishing ice caps

 How about a self-portrait? How about a Polar landscape? And... how about re-imagining the visual dynamics between Polar landscapes and self-portraits?

The sights and sounds of the weeks I worked in 24-hour daylight on an expedition in the High Arctic are as vivid on my mind as they were on board of the ship and ashore of the Arctic.

So I've been developing a new framework for a new series of works about my intense engagement with the Arctic: Polar self Portraits – the artist and the curious case of the vanishing ice caps. This new journey considers the dynamics between the (perceived) centrality of the self and the (perceived) peripheries of the planet, the Polar regions – and creates connections between them. 

This is a visual expedition through the relationship of two iconic art genres: the landscape of the face – the self-portrait – and the face of the land, aka the landscape. How can we re-imagine the boundaries of these classical genres in art, in the context of climate change and our new epoch after the Holocene: the Anthropocene? 

Given the urgency, relevance and legacy of this theme, I've decided to open up my PsP project, to work with fellow artists from six continents, scientists, musicians and the public to get involved in their own way in the Polar self-Portraits. This focussed, varied and inclusive visual conversation about PsP is generating further ripple effect, engaging artists, climate change and the public.

"Lyrical, captivating... stunning." – About the Hudson Valley Self series,  E. Fitzherbert, Art and Culture journalist

"Beautiful, thought-provoking original paintings." – About the Hudson Valley Self series, T. Brown,  C4 Ensemble Artist in Residence curator, composer and conductor

 Open Studios in NY, while working at the ASLNY\s Vyt Residency, featuring some of my work in progress for Polar self Portraits.

To create a confluence of art, action and the public, I have designed flash mobs, land art, and designed and produced talks, pop up art events and drawing workshops, tailored for different venues and different audiences – including students, scientists, art, pub as well as sea lovers. Venues have included various museums, a university, a library, a 15th century inn,  a series of public spaces by the Fylde Coast and the Lake District. Beyond England. The project was featured at the art festival in a moated château in France, a former fire-station turned art gallery in NY, an art museum in Arctica, research stations in Antarctica, a university in Albania and Macedonia in the Balkans, a watchtower in Croatia, a national museum in Slovenia, a concert series in Manhattan, NY, and a cutting edge contemporary Moroccan art gallery in Africa. 

Press includes London-based, internationally read openDemocracy, a Canadian fine art photography magazine, local papers in London, Blackpool, the Fylde Coast, Morocco and France.

Reviews of the Polar self Portraits workshops includes feedback from museum curators, families, students, teachers and other participants.

Some of my work created in the Hudson Valley artist residency is featured by the C4 Ensemble throughout 2016-17, and auctioned in support of innovative new music.

Do you have a space to offer for Polar self Portraits to engage people around you with art?  Be it a public or private space, usual or unusual, do get in touch if you'd like to come on board of this visual expedition as a 'port' for a PsP exhibition, a talk, a workshop, a flash mob or a pop up art event.

Enquiries, feedback, suggestions in support of the PsP project are welcome from the public, art, science, education, climate change, marketing and media professionals.

Images below include work from some of my large-scale, extended series. 

Arctic Pillows

 An Arctic expedition, many Arctic Pillows. First at The Royal Institution for month,  then at Google for over six months.

Arctic Quilts

Crackling glacial fjords and air bubbles escaping from melting ice. Arctic Quilts were born from the Arctic soundscape and 24-hour light.

human condition

Portrait series.


Another moment, another change, in the landscape of a face.

seething excitations

My Id series, songs of "a cauldron full of seething excitations."  Freud


The naked ape. In its mystery and vulnerability. Drawing lines of paint. On the wall of a cave. Or in the frame.

SKETCHBOOK: Drawing Lives

Drawing lines, drawing faces, painting lives. From my sketchbook.

Under the Skin

 Grammars of deep character, under the skin.

Myths and Dreams

Myths meet dreams – welcome to Bluebeard's castle.

Chronos and KairoS

Linear versus special moment in time.

East River Sizzle

Sweltering skies, sizzling soundscape –  a walk along the East River. 


Mixed media series, with slices of bread, matches and wire. Exhibited in Romania.

The Spirit of Film

Mixed media, with elements of printing. Balázs' film theory and early film, in dialogue, exhibited at the British Film Academy and three London cinemas. 

Black and Blue, and other series

Various mixed media painting series.

Nature's Skin

Mixed media, with elements of local nature. Exhibited and in collections in Turkey, Italy, France, Austria, Romania, Haiti and the UK.

the studio

* Zsuzsanna Ardó's work has been supported by Arts Council England awards.