Ultima Thule: Stephen Vaughan fuses geology, history and photography inside Tullie House

By Richard Moss | 14 December 2010
In Pictures: Stephen Vaughan: Ultima Thule, Tullie House Art Gallery, Carlisle, until February 6 2011

Ultima Thule is a term used in ancient history to describe the mysterious northern frontier - a distant unknown region at the extreme limit of exploration and discovery.

2,300 years ago the Greek explorer Pytheas ventured into this mysterious and dangerous realm when he travelled to the edge of the then-known world beyond Britain, towards Iceland and the Arctic Circle.

Now photographer Stephen Vaughan has followed in the footsteps of Pytheas by journeying across the Icelandic landscape to sites that are the nearest equivalent on Earth to the surfaces of the Moon and Mars, and which were used for training lunar astronauts.

The resulting photographs are currently on display at Tullie House. Taken on a cumbersome large-format Gandolfi camera, they reveal landscapes marked by volcanic activity, shifting tectonic plates, vast glaciers and steaming, sulphurous pools.

“My photographs depict some of the rawest and youngest surfaces on Earth, allowing the viewer to imagine the prehistoric beginnings of the landscape, void of any human presence or history," he says.

Ultima Thule is an Impressions Gallery Touring Exhibition.

an unusual photograph of an iceberg
© Stephen Vaughan
a photo of a lunar like landscape with mountains in the distance
© Stephen Vaughan
a photograph of an ice bound landscape in negative
© Stephen Vaughan
a photograph of a steaming landscape of rocks
© Stephen Vaughan
a photo of a mountain range
© Stephen Vaughan
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