Polar Bear set to take centre stage at Staithes Festival

A larger-than-life polar bear will make its debut at this year's Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage in North Yorkshire this weekend.

Wednesday, 5th September 2018, 4:40 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th September 2018, 4:41 pm
Whitby sculptor Emma Stothard at work installing her life-size Polar bear made from willow on the pier at Staithes ©Tony Bartholomew

Created by Whitby sculptor Emma Stothard, the polar bear is made from stripped and woven white willow around a central steel armature, and has been installed overlooking Staithes Harbour.

It will remain there throughout September.

Emma had twin inspirations for her sculpture, both with a local link. This year marks the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s first voyage of discovery to the Pacific and Southern Oceans in 1768.

Cook never encountered a polar bear – he was killed in Hawaii in 1779, during his third voyage to the area – but his successor Captain Clerke did, five months later.

A second Whitby seaman, William Scoresby Sr, master whaler and inventor of the barrel crow’s nest, brought a polar bear cub home from one of his Arctic voyages in the early 1800s.

Emma said: “Living in Whitby, I’ve long been familiar with the stories of Captains Cook and Scoresby, and wanted to sculpt a polar bear – this year seemed the perfect time to do it.”

Her previous artworks for the festival have included giant lobsters and a life-size family of elephants.

She also created the huge woven galvanised steel wire portrait of the famous Craven Heifer which was a highlight of this year’s Great Yorkshire Show

The seventh Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage takes place this Saturday and Sunday (Sep 8 and 9).

Look out for pictures in next week’s Whitby Gazette.