Polar Bear set to take centre stage at Staithes Festival

Whitby sculptor Emma Stothard at work installing her life-size Polar bear  made from willow on the pier at Staithes' �Tony Bartholomew
Whitby sculptor Emma Stothard at work installing her life-size Polar bear made from willow on the pier at Staithes' �Tony Bartholomew

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.

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.