In June 2004, Ørnulf Opdahl joined the Norwegian research ship G.O.Sars and set sail with scientists from 16 nations on the two month MAR-ECO expedition to study the animal life inhabiting the mid-Altantic Ridge, a sub-marine mountain range several thousand metres deep, between Iceland and the Azores. The artistic results will now be displayed at an exhibition in Darlington.
This field project formed part of the ten year ‘Census of Marine Life’ initiative, which was established to study the diverse distribution and abundance of marine life and explain its past and future existence. As ship’s artist, Opdahl started the voyage by recording the brilliant sunrises and sunsets, but these were gradually replaced by the overwhelming challenge of sketching the spectacular creatures of the deep and the environment that they inhabit.
Adopting the scientists’ approach, he gathered as many impressions in the form of countless sketches which were he explained his “findings”. “For fourteen days I followed what was brought up by the trawls and the remote-controlled underwater vehicle, until a whole stream of images based on impressions of what I had seen and experienced emerged.” This exhibition was originally on display at the University Gallery in Newcastle last year.
Ørnulf Opdahl was born in 1944. He studied at the Norwegian Art Academy from 1962-65 and held his first major one-man exhibition at the Oslo Art Association in 1966. By the 1970s he had established his reputation as one of the leading painters of his generation and was exhibiting at major galleries in Norway.
His early figurative paintings in the 1960s and early 1970s gradually evolved towards a large-scale painting format in which colouristic highlights became more dominant. Like many of his contemporaries at that time, Opdahl was interested in late 1800s symbolism. By the mid-1980s, Opdahl had developed his own distinctly personal approach to painting, which he has evolved since returning to the west coast of Norway, where he continues to live and work.
To read an article by William Varley about the project, click here.
Census of Marine Life
28 July - 9 Sept
Myles Meehan Gallery
Darlington Arts Centre
Darlington DL3 7AX
Tel: 01325 348 843