“LX” is a limited edition set of sixty photographic prints commissioned by Antarctica New Zealand to mark the 60th Anniversary of Scott Base in Antarctica.
While working with an ice dive team at Cape Evans, Antarctica in October 2016 I visited the nearby historic hut, most associated with Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s British Antarctic (Terra Nova) Expedition 1910–1913 and his second, and final, attempt for the South Pole.
I found stepping into that hut was deeply moving. Totally silent and dimly lit it stands preserved as if you are the first person to enter since Scott’s team deserted the place. So I decided to capture the feeling of visiting that moment rather than attempting to accurately document the site and artefacts, as many very good photographers have already done (notably the outstanding work of Jane Ussher in her book Still Life: Inside the Antarctic huts of Scott and Shackleton).
To recreate the mood, I lit the interior with torchlight and used my modern DSLR camera fitted with the lens from a 100 year old Kodak pocket camera. The lens is very similar to one used by photographer Frank Hurley on Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition which set out in 1914. It gives a wonderful soft quality to the images and adds a deeper connection to the ‘heroic’ era of Antarctic exploration.
For the commission I selected and crafted this diptych to form a stylised “LX” – the roman numeral for 60. An edition of 60 prints, to mark 60 years in the form of a roman 60. They are to be gifted to key staff and strategic partners. Antarctica New Zealand also commissioned a special edition consisting of two larger prints of the same image. One will be hung in their office in Christchurch and it’s pair to hang in Scott Base in Antarctica.
NIWA’s Drew Lohrer holds the safety line for ice diver Ian Hawkes as he works under the 2 metre thick sea-ice at Cape Evans in Antarctica. The divers cut a hole through the ice then position a modified shipping container over the hole to act as a dive base.
I was super impressed with these guys and their safety regime – the diver is in constant communication with the surface through a system of pulls on three rope Drew holds in a shaft of light through the containers only small window. It highlights these ‘lines of communication’ and that Ian was truely ‘in safe hands’
A massive iceberg trapped in the sea-ice near Cape Evans. We walked around this beast in the light of the midnight sun. I took photos for two hours solid that night in temperatures lower than -25°c until the camera finally gave up and refused to focus and the LCD screen faded to grey .. but my fingers were so cold I didn’t care.
Shovel handles at Scott’s Terra Nova Hut, Cape Evans, Antarctica
A photo for all the Kiwis in the garden this summer: These shovels sit just inside the door of Scott’s historic hut at Cape Evans.
Scott’s hut is the iconic base associated with Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s British Antarctic (Terra Nova) Expedition 1910–1913 and his second, and final, famed attempt for the Geographic South Pole.
This shot is part of a comprehensive collection I took when we were with the dive team at Cape Evans. I wanted to capture the feeling of visiting the hut rather than concentrating on accurately documenting the site and artefacts, after all, many very good photographers have done this already (including the outstanding work of Jane Ussher in her book Still Life: Inside the Antarctic huts of Scott and Shackleton). I found it quite liberating to know I could take a totally different approach.
When we entered the hut it was very dark with snow covering many of the windows. We had to wear head-torches which created an eerie pool of light in the inky dark, revealing a small bit at a time. To try and get the feeling of the experience I shot with combinations of head-torch and snooted flash lighting and using my homemade lens on a modern Nikon DSLR. The lens is made with the element from a 100 year old Kodak pocket camera very similar to that used by the photographer from Shackleton’s expeditions, Frank Hurley.
For some reason I have a fascination with bones and ruins. I guess it ties into my interest in our place within the continuum of life and the traces left by those that have been before us.
Whatever it is, people know I have this interest and keep giving me skeletons etc they find. In this case a colleague at Massey came across this mummified bird in a wall cavity and I leapt at the opportunity to add it to the small collection of bird skeletons I have acquired.
It seems these birds find the potential for a easy nesting location just too seductive and end up getting trapped inside the walls – not a nice thought I know.
The name “Sirenuse” comes from the island off the coast of Italy which, according to Greek mythology, was the home of the Sirens. These dangerous yet beautiful creatures, lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast.
Late last year I started a new series of projects under the umbrella title of “Inside my sound”. The projects come under my overall research objective of “celebrating, protecting and educating new audiences on on heritage, culture and environment.” One aspect I am particularly interested in is exploring the role of musicians as kaitiakitanga in our collective whakapapa.
To kick this off I have been working with Wellington musicians Warren Maxwell (from Fat Freddy’s Drop, Trinity Roots, Little Bushmen and now at Massey’s new School of Commercial Music), Thomas Oliver and Louis Baker. This is really just an introductory investigation into the world of these fantastic musicians and the interplay between them as they create. Warren and I have had some great conversations about the similarities in the creative process of visual arts and musicians.
The guys generously let me photograph them during a practice session at home and a recent gig as “Pass the gat” at San Fran Bathhouse. I particularly loved one moment in the green room backstage where they grouped together for some voice warm-ups.
By the way you can see all three playing at this years WOMAD
It was a real honour working with the NZSO as the rehearsed for the upcoming tour – they allowed us to get incredibly close onstage with a total of 17 cameras for 4 separate takes over 2 days. Needless to say post production was a mish!
A preview of works from a new series I am working on. Taken with my homemade lens using old glass from my grandfathers camera. I am working toward an exhibition of these as very large prints but I will do a smaller edition of each as well. Watch this space.
To celebrate (or was it promote?) the fact that Wellington furniture company Thonet is now open on Saturday they commissioned me to shoot something “that represents designer furniture on a Saturday” … so of course we photographed one of their stunning Emeco High Polish 1006 Navy Chairs in a classic New Zealand rugby changing room.
Huge ups to Wellington’s Rongotai Collage for letting me use “the old shed” and my daughter Lauren for assisting on a cold winters night.