Crafts Council acquires James Maskrey glass sculpture inspired by Captain Scott

By Culture24 Reporter | 25 May 2012
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a photo of a glass sculpture resembling a glass jar with eggs inside it and a penguin sculpture on the top.
James Maskrey’s glass artwork, The Worst Journey in the World, which has been acquired for the nation by the Craft Council© Crafts Council
The Crafts Council has swooped at COLLECT, the international buying exhibition of contemporary craft held earlier this month at London's Saatchi Gallery, to acquire an iconic piece by Sunderland-based glass sculptor James Maskrey for its permanent collection.

Called The Worst Journey in the World, the piece was inspired by the tragedy of the ill-fated Terra Nova exhibition in which Captain Scott and his team perished on their trip back from the South Pole just 11 miles short of supplies at the One-Ton Depot.

Now seemingly part of British national folklore, Scott’s heroic failure and demise are well known. But Maskrey has focused on a lesser-known aspect of the expedition – the emperor penguin eggs that Scott and his wider team of explorers and scientists were bringing back for research.

“Much of the Terra Nova expedition was based around scientific discovery. The race for the Pole was only a part of it,” says Maskrey. “It was thought that Emperor penguins’ eggs would yield the scientific holy grail of the missing evolutionary link between dinosaurs and birds.

"Gaining the embryo of the Emperor penguin was considered the scientific equivalent, perhaps, of obtaining the Pole itself.”

Only three eggs eventually made it back from the expedition base at Cape Crozier – courtesy of Edward Wilson, Birdie Bowers and Apsley Cherry-Garrard. Wilson and Bowers later perished with Scott but Cherry-Garrard made it back and wrote of his own harrowing experiences in the classic travel book, The Worst Journey in the World.  

Maskrey’s work, created in Sunderland University’s hot glass workshop at the National Glass Centre, shows a lidded opalescent jar containing eggs, topped with a model of an Emperor penguin. The whole piece utilised the difficult process of blowing hot glass.

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