Exploring Antarctica in Chatham: The Final Expeditions of Scott and Shackleton

By Culture24 Reporter | 28 May 2013

Exhibition preview: Exploring Antarctica: The Final Expeditions of Scott and Shackleton, Historic Dockyard Chatham, Chatham, until August 30 2013

A black and white photo of a ship on Arctic ice
Frank Hurley, Endurance in Full Sail© Royal Geographical Society
Last year’s centenary of Scott and Shackleton’s ultimate journey was as much a homage to the incredible skill of photographer Herbert Ponting as it was testimony to the bravery of the famous explorers.

Conceived with the Royal Geographical Society, the Scott Polar Research Institute, the Royal Engineers Museum Library and Royal Museums Greenwich, Chatham’s retrace features dozens of these pictures.

A perfectly-preserved biscuit tin, found on Scott’s frozen body, also leaps out, as do Frank Hurley’s ice-swathed subsequent pictures, made while shadowing Shackleton.

“Ponting set the aesthetic template which still informs the way in which we see the continent,” says Dr David Wilson, whose great uncle, Dr Edward, died with Scott while they were retreating from the South Pole in 1912.

“His work inspired the work of Hurley, whose images for Shackleton’s expeditions provide some of the most popular images of the Antarctic ever taken.

“These two photographers remain aesthetic giants of the ice and heroes in their own right.

“It is rare to see so many of their photographs exhibited side by side.”

Felicity Aston, the only woman to have covered Antarctica alone on skis, completed her 59-day, 1,744 kilometre journey in January last year.

““It's very exciting to have material and artefacts from so many different collections in one place,” she feels.

“It's fascinating to see how far polar exploration has come in the past 100 years.

“We can try to imagine where it will go in the next 100 years to come.”

An interactive family activities area also features a dressing-up area.

More pictures:

A photo of an ancient biscuit in a museum
© Thomas Cogley
A photo of a tent inside a museum
© Thomas Cogley
A photo of a display featuring a black and white photo of a former explorer
© Thomas Cogley
A photo of an exhibit showing explorers in the Arctic
© Thomas Cogley
A black and white photo of Arctic ice
© Royal Geographical Society
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