Drawn to Antarctica and With Scott to the Pole: The Terra Nova Expedition at Brantwood

By Ben Miller | 29 March 2012
A photo of a painting of an Antarctic nature scene
Frances Hatch, Single Whiteness
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.”

A black and white photo through an ice tunnel in the Antarctic
Photos by Herbert Ponting, taken on the expedition Captain Scott and his Terra Nova team made to the South Pole almost exactly a century ago, form the second expedition at Brantwood House© RGS-IBG
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.

More pictures:

A photo of a dark blue abstract painting of an Antarctic nature scene
Frances Hatch, The Cold Facts
An image of a painting of seals on Antarctic ice
Hatch is a senior tutor at West Dean College in West Sussex
An image of a paining of a man hanging from an Antarctic cliff on a harness
The artist will give a talk at Brantwood on April 21© RGS-IBG
A black and white photo of an Antarctic explorer
A film screening will show Scott's preparations on May 3© RGS-IBG
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