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Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Visions of the Great White South: Cambridge in Bonhams

Last week we went along for a tour of the Polar Museum's pop-up exhibition at Bonhams, Visions of the Great White South. Curated by Charlotte Connolly, the exhibition brings together art and images from the Scott Polar Expedition, alongside contemporary art commissioned by the Scott Polar Research Institute. We live tweeted the tour and now you can get a sneak peak here. The exhibition is only on until this Friday August 19th and we highly recommend a visit! 


From the bustle of Bond Street to the silence of the Pole

We love whenever regional museums get to showcase their collections in London, so of course we had to get down and see what the Polar Museum was doing on Bond Street! Maybe a strange choice of venue for a display of (not for sale) historic images- or so we thought.

Kicking of the tour with curator from - a research institute which also has a historic collection

Actually I didn't really know very much about the Polar Research Institute aside from that they had a museum. It's worth looking up the really interesting work they do - polar research not just a thing from the early twentieth century! 

Exhibition features work from the official artists of the Scott Polar Exhibition inspired by his work Broken Ice


Curator Charlotte Connolly was inspired by this image from the Terra Nova Expedition's official camera artist, Herbert Ponting. Ponting actually created a documentary about the expedition called the Great White Silence. 

Exhibition also includes beautiful water colours by artist and scientist EA Wilson

But Ponting wasn't alone in capturing the Pole- the exhibition also had along watercolour artist and scientist EA Wilson. This image features a very teeny tiny church on top of the outcropping built by the expedition team. 

Herbert Ponting - the camera artist on the expedition, captured everyday life for an explorer at Cape Evans


Ponting was really a 'camera artist' rather than a purely scientific photographer. He also took pictures of everyday life on the expedition, as well as stunning portraits. This one was taken just as this man returned from a push towards the Pole. 

Apparently Captain Scott became quite a good photographer on the expedition - with his work


In the eyes of Captain Scott, it was important that all members of the expedition were trained to be competent scientific photographers. Scott himself took to photography, and the exhibition features a number of images taken by him, including some very early panoramic photos. 

Wilson and Ponting always wanted an exhibition together of their photos and watercolours - finally realised


Exhibition artists Ponting and Wilson had always hoped for a joint exhibition of their works, but Wilson died on the fated journey back from the Pole alongside Scott. Perhaps due to the grief of Wilson's widow, the exhibition never happened. Now some of their works have finally been reunited. 

So why are we in ? Because they sponsor artist in residence who travels to Antarctica


Well the big reveal- we are at Bonhams because they sponsor an artist-in-residence at the Polar Institute! These lucky artists get to travel down to the Pole each year to capture the science of polar exploration through art. These paintings were actually done by Captain Scott's granddaughter!

A closing note on the epic landscapes of Emma Stibbon


The contemporary art portion of the exhibition is really stunning. I thought this was a photograph but its actually a drawing! Amazing to see how the Pole is still an inspiration for generations of artists. 

A fantastic mix of history, science and art we really can't recommend Visions of the Great White South enough! It's free to visit so just pop down to Bonhams anytime this week. There are even tours available this Friday: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/exhibition-tour-visions-of-the-great-white-south-tickets-26825554957


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