Exhibitions: Drawn to Antarctica 2005 – 2012 (opens March 30); With Scott to the Pole: The Terra Nova Expedition, 1910-13 (opens April 6), Brantwood House, Coniston, until May 28 2012
Frances Hatch is a painter drawn to sparsely filled spaces. Scotland, Iceland, Finland and Norway have previously played host to her easel, but her 50th birthday in 2005 – “there is nothing like a birthday marking half a century to prompt action so that dreams don’t become regrets”, as she philosophically reflects – convinced her to finally head for the South Pole.
“One of my aspirations was to glimpse Antarctica,” she says, calling it a “sublimely beautiful and vast wilderness” which had “hovered at the edge of my consciousness for as long as I can remember.”
“It appeared to me to be the crucible containing the ingredients of all that I have ever wanted to explore as an artist. I set about getting myself there.”
Her two-week pilgrimage still moves her, showcased here in the studio works it inspired and sketchbooks, photos, paintings and drawings from the trip.
Hatch’s book, Drawn to Antarctica, accompanies the canvasses with thoughts, insights and discoveries from an artist whose emotional connection to landscape manifests itself in her water-based works.
Ice crystals, grit and volcanic mud all appear in a playful precursory display to a sister exhibition, With Scott to the Pole, which also opens at Brantwood a week later.
It features pictures by Herbert Ponting, the “camera artist” whose shots are best placed to tell the incredible story of Captain Scott’s team, shadowing them on their expedition.
They are shown relaxing on the Terra Nova’s deck, surveying the icescapes and even enjoying impromptu haircuts, capturing the human intimacies of a journey so brave it still seems hard to fully comprehend.
Rendered by Ponting, these images were originally taken by Captain Oates (whose family donated them to the Royal Geographical Society), framed and captioned with text panels which include quotes and commentary from fellow explorers such as Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Pen Hadow.
- Open 10.30am-5pm. Admission £1.35-£9.50.