“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.
“We are getting weaker … and the end cannot be far’ #onthisday in 1912, Robert Falcon Scott wrote his last diary entry. This photo shows our first view on entering the darkness of his hut at Cape Evans. It was like walking into 1912.
In keeping with the historic theme created by my photo series “Into the light” featuring shots of the historic huts on Ross Island, this weeks FridayFoto is of one of our tents on the sea-ice at Cape Evans. After all this time the best tent design for Antartica is pretty much the same as what Scott and Shackleton over 100 years ago. Good design stands the test of time!
A diptych of images showing a detail of snow piled high on the windows of Scott’s historic hut at Cape Evans. When we visited in October the interior of the Hutt was very dark because the sun was still low and this snow on the windowed blocked it’s light. This created a very moody experience as we explored by the light of headlamps.
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.
Camping in the New Zealand summer … Antarctica style. After a three hour ride in the Hagglund we arrived at our campsite for the final part of our field survival training. This shot was taken about 11.30 at night and this is about as dark as it got. The tents are pretty much the same design Scott used during his fatal 1912 journey to the pole. In the background is the ever present Mt Erebus. On the left Warren is recording the sound of the flagpoles squeaking as the move in the snow.
As this photo of Warren on the sea ice at Cape Evans illustrates, Antarctica can feel unlike anywhere else on the planet at times. When I saw him in all his survival gear casting this massive shadow in the midnight sun I instantly thought of the photos of the astronauts on the moon (thanks NASA for making them public btw). Two harsh environments where man goes to extraordinary lengths to survive – it was about -20˚c when I took this.
The dark “landmass” on the right is in fact an iceberg trapped in the frozen sea-ice.
After a really productive initial discussion with @AntarcticaNZ my research has moved into a new phase – I’m now focussing on the depiction of ‘heroes’ and ‘explorers’ through portraiture in historic and contemporary contexts.
This reflects a fledgling strategic approach to repositioning the public perception of science by depicting the Antarctic Scientists as “Science Explorers” – modern approachable heroes striving to understand climate change to help deal with it.
This might be the beginning of “the new heroic age” of Antarctica?