The Terra Infirma exhibition and book represent a significant stage in Stibbon’s continuing research investigations into the ways that natural landscapes shift and change over time. In this body of work Stibbon addresses glacial and volcanic activity in Iceland, using a variety of methods to convey sociocultural and environmental change through the medium of drawing and printmaking. Terra Infirma also emphasises the interdisciplinary nature of her work, as reflected in a recorded dialogue between Stibbon and volcanologist Professor Katharine Cashman, and has resulted in new insights informed by original scientific data.
Building on previous examinations of fragile and icy terrains (Antarctica) and studies of water, change and movement (Meeresrauschen, 2011 and The Lure of Water, 2012), Terra Infirma focuses on the Icelandic landscape, which reflects the dynamic changes caused by its location on the moving tectonic plates of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Sustained by periods of fieldwork research, during which observational drawings, recordings and interpretations of place were gathered, Stibbon intiated the Terra Infirma project through six weeks travelling around the Icelandic south coast and a residency in Ólafsfjördur, north Iceland (located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge) in 2012. Complementing this immersive and responsive approach to nature is Stibbon’s continuing engagement in critical dialogue with experts from other fields, including glaciologists (such as Dr Giles Brown, University of Bristol), volcanologists (such as Professor Katharine Cashman, also University of Bristol) and historians. Stibbon’s research methods utilise historical and archival materials, collected artefacts, data and statistics, documentary photography, and observational drawing.
Building on this project Stibbon was awarded a Grants for the Arts Award for £4,750 to fund an expedition to the High Arctic with ‘The Arctic Circle’ (Summer 2013), and undertook an artist’s placement in Antarctica supported by the Scott Polar Research Institute/HMS Protector in Spring 2013.