'Antarctica' Project Notes
In 2006/07 I was awarded an Antarctic international fellowship sponsored by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the Arts Council and spent nearly 3 months living and working in the Antarctic at the BAS base Rothera and refuelling depot Sky Blue. A diary of my experience published weekly as the first 'Artists talking' online for a.n artists information co. while in Antarctica can be read here -a.n blog
I was involved in the day to day workings of the bases which included refuelling twin otters, digging out frozen fuel barrels, recycling paper and plastic, and keeping a natural blue ice runway clear of snow.
My project proposal revolved around the dynamic and transient nature of the Antarctic environment and included film, sound recordings, temporary installations and the building of a glass furnace. Over the time I was there, I became aware of the extraordinary human / environmental interface which came to inform all of the work, and continues to be a source of creative investigation.
‘Air Slide 1 and 2’, two weeks of 24hr Antarctic light exposure on closed film.
‘Wastegloo’ structure, made from igloo offcuts. Building this unstable, precariously balanced structure seemed a more appropriate response to the realities of the environment and the intense emotions it evoked.
‘Antarctica - a choice?’ glass and Pilots blood. One of a series bottles given to the the scientists and support staff at Rothera research station, and returned filled with whatever they felt best represented their lives in Antarctica.
Digging alternative ice core from the surface of a glacier. Thanks to the help of BAS, the 90kg block of ice the ice piggy backed to the UK amongst the scientific cores. Unlike the scientific ice cores, which from the outset have a predetermined course and data gathering objective, bringing this ice back poses many questions about the role of sentiment, subjectivity and emotional attachment to the Antarctic environment, particularly if our only experience of it is through the interface of film and photography.
My Ice in Rothera research station freezer awaiting transport back to Cambridge.
Ice in situ in Royal Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly. Arts Catalyst commission part of ‘Bipolar’. The ice was acoustically wired up and the sound of ancient gas bubbles as they erupted into the room magnified, creating loud and interruptive belches into the London night.
Plastic - an accessible entry into understanding the human interface of the Science base Rothera.
The environment is so overwhelming, and difficult to be human in. I felt a filter was needed. I scratched through tracing paper and placed it over my window. The following images were published in Next Level contemporary photography magazine.
Self made Glass furnace at Rothera. Made from recycled materials and used to melt waste glass at the base.
Learning to weld at the base. Non functional, impractical; the opposite of everything else.
Molten glass from the base
Thin recycled glass threads from my furnace and sea ice
Glass and metal hook 1 & 2
Glass burn b&w photographic print
‘Breathingberg’ video at Designersblock, London
‘Antarctica’ Blood on paper V&A Fri Late Installation 2008. Silver galleries and tracing paper again. The silver was too much, you could see more by taking most of it away. It lasted one evening before I had to take the paper down.