Posts Tagged ‘Herbert Ponting

30
Jun
19

Photographs: Herbert Ponting Chinese stereocards

June 2019

 

Herbert George Ponting (1870-1935) (photographer) The Universal Photo Art Co (C.H. Graves) (publisher) 'At the barber's, Peking, China' 1902

 

Herbert Ponting (British, 1870-1935) (photographer)
The Universal Photo Art Co., (C.H. Graves) (publisher)
At the barber’s, Peking, China
c. 1902
Albumen print on card

 

 

Fabulous, early Herbert Ponting social documentary stereoviews. I have never seen these before.

The placement of figures and the formal construction of the pictorial plane – strong diagonals and verticals, near to far, vanishing point – make for beautifully balanced, tensioned and dynamic images.

Marcus

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Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Herbert Ponting (1870-1935) (photographer) The Universal Photo Art Co (C.H. Graves) (publisher) 'A Chinese strawberry garden. Proprietor and coolie. China' c. 1902

 

Herbert Ponting (British, 1870-1935) (photographer)
The Universal Photo Art Co., (C.H. Graves) (publisher)
A Chinese strawberry garden. Proprietor and coolie. China
c. 1902
Albumen print on card

 

Herbert Ponting (1870-1935) (photographer) The Universal Photo Art Co (C.H. Graves) (publisher) 'En Route to the Great Wall of China. Entrance to the city of Nankow' c. 1902

 

Herbert Ponting (British, 1870-1935) (photographer)
The Universal Photo Art Co., (C.H. Graves) (publisher)
En Route to the Great Wall of China. Entrance to the city of Nankow
c. 1902
Albumen print on card

 

Herbert Ponting (1870-1935) (photographer) Underwood & Underwood (publisher) 'Where China's Great Wall begins its 1,250 mile course - from Shan-hai-ewan (N.) to Liao Hsi Mountains' 1904

 

Herbert Ponting (British, 1870-1935) (photographer)
Underwood & Underwood (publisher)
Where China’s Great Wall begins its 1,250 mile course – from Shan-hai-ewan (N.) to Liao Hsi Mountains
1904
Albumen print on card

 

 

Herbert Ponting

Herbert George Ponting, FRGS (21 March 1870 – 7 February 1935) was a professional photographer. He is best known as the expedition photographer and cinematographer for Robert Falcon Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition to the Ross Sea and South Pole (1910-1913). In this role, he captured some of the most enduring images of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. …

 

Early life

Ponting was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire in the south of England, on 21 March 1870. His father was a successful banker, Francis Ponting, and his mother was Mary Sydenham. From the age of eighteen Herbert was employed at a local bank branch in Liverpool, where he stayed for four years. That time was long enough to convince him that he did not wish to follow in the profession of his father, and attracted to stories of the American West, he moved to California where he worked in mining and then bought a fruit ranch in the 1890s. In 1895 he married a California woman, Mary Biddle Elliott; their daughter Mildred, was born in Auburn, California in January 1897.

Ponting sold his fruit farm in 1898 and, with his wife and daughter, returned to Britain to stay with his family. When they returned to the USA he turned his long-standing hobby of photography in his next career. Following a chance meeting with a professional photographer in California, to whom he had given advice about the locality and showed his own photos, he entered his pictures in competitions and won awards; he also sent some of his stereoscopic photographs to companies who published them. His work was also selected for the first San Francisco Salon; at that time he was living in Sausalito, north of San Francisco. He took stereoviews of and reported on the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-05, and afterwards continued to travel around Asia, working in Burma, Korea, Java, China and India taking stereoviews and working as a freelance photographer for English-speaking periodicals. Improvements in the printing press had made it possible, for the first time, for mass-market magazines to print and publish photographic illustrations.

After spending much of 1901-6 travelling around photographing in Asia, Ponting returned to Europe, where he continued to take stereoviews (including in Switzerland and Spain) and wrote illustrated articles for magazines including Country Life, the Graphic, the Illustrated London News, Pearson’s, and the Strand Magazine. In the Strand, Ponting’s work appeared side by side with the Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle, one of Ponting’s contemporaries.

Ponting expanded his photographs of Japan into a 1910 book, In Lotus-land Japan. He took extensive photographs in Spain. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS). His flair for journalism and ability to shape his photographic illustrations into a narrative led to his being signed as expedition photographer aboard the Terra Nova, the first time a professional photographer was included on an Antarctic expedition.

Text from the Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 02/06/2019

 

Herbert Ponting (1870-1935) (photographer) The "Perfec" Stereograph. H.C. White Co., (publisher) 'The-Tien-ning-ssu Pagoda, near Peking, China' 1907

 

Herbert Ponting (British, 1870-1935) (photographer)
The “Perfec” Stereograph. H.C. White Co., (publisher)
The-Tien-ning-ssu Pagoda, near Peking, China
1907
Albumen print on card

 

Herbert Ponting (1870-1935) (photographer) The "Perfec" Stereograph. H.C. White Co., (publisher) 'Peking, the capital of China, looking east from a balcony of the Drum Tower' 1907

 

Herbert Ponting (British, 1870-1935) (photographer)
The “Perfec” Stereograph. H.C. White Co., (publisher)
Peking, the capital of China, looking east from a balcony of the Drum Tower
1907
Albumen print on card

 

William Cooper. 'Drum Tower, Peking' 1910

 

William Cooper
Drum Tower, Peking
1910
Gelatin silver print
University of Bristol – Historical Photographs of China
Creative Commons 3.0

 

 

Beijing’s Bell and Drum Towers are situated on a small square north of the Forbidden City. The towers, which were used for telling time until 1924, were built in 1272 during the reign of Kublai Khan and were rebuilt after two fires during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The Bell and Drum Towers are quintessential landmarks of historic Beijing.

 

Herbert Ponting (1870-1935) (photographer) The "Perfec" Stereograph. H.C. White Co., (publisher) 'A Tea seller in the streets of Moukden, Manchuria' c. 1906

 

Herbert Ponting (British, 1870-1935) (photographer)
The “Perfec” Stereograph. H.C. White Co., (publisher)
A Tea seller in the streets of Moukden, Manchuria
c. 1906
Albumen print on card

 

Herbert Ponting (1870-1935) (photographer) 'A poppy field in Manchuria, natives extracting fluid from which opium is made' c. 1902-1907

 

Herbert Ponting (British, 1870-1935) (photographer)
The “Perfec” Stereograph. H.C. White Co., (publisher)
A poppy field in Manchuria, natives extracting fluid from which opium is made
c. 1902-1907
Albumen print on card

 

Herbert Ponting (1870-1935) (photographer) 'The Old Bell Tower in the heart of Mukden, Manchuria' 1905

 

Herbert Ponting (1870-1935) (photographer)
The “Perfec” Stereograph. H.C. White Co., (publisher)
The Old Bell Tower in the heart of Mukden, Manchuria
1905
Albumen print on card

 

Herbert Ponting (1870-1935) (photographer) 'Along the Great Wall of China (originally 1700 miles long), looking east up to a watch tower' 1907

 

Herbert Ponting (British, 1870-1935) (photographer)
The “Perfec” Stereograph. H.C. White Co., (publisher)
Along the Great Wall of China (originally 1700 miles long), looking east up to a watch tower
1907
Albumen print on card

 

Herbert Ponting (1870-1935) (photographer) 'Scene on Ha-ta-Men St., one of the principal thoroughfares of Peking, China' 1907

 

Herbert Ponting (British, 1870-1935) (photographer)
The “Perfec” Stereograph. H.C. White Co., (publisher)
Scene on Ha-ta-Men St., one of the principal thoroughfares of Peking, China
1907
Albumen print on card

 

 

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14
Feb
13

Exhibition: ‘National Geographic: The Past and Future Present’ at Steven Kasher Gallery, New York

Exhibition dates: 10th January 10 – 16th February 2013

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A wonderfully eclectic posting!

Many thankx to Steven Kasher Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Jean-Leon Huens
Sir Frances Drake, Unmanned British Ships with Flammables Explode Among Spanish Ships
1500s
Jean-Leon Huens/National Geographic Society / Steven Kasher Gallery

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Jacques Ertaud
Jacques Yves Cousteau Films A Jet-propelled Submersible
Caribbean Sea, 1959
Jacques Ertaud/National Geographic Image Collection/Steven Kasher Gallery

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Vittorio Sella
A Cascade of Weathered Ice Spills From the 14 Square Mile Glacier
Karagom Glacier, Caucasus Mountains, Russia
1890
Vittorio Sella/National Geographic Image Collection/Steven Kasher Gallery

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J. Baylor Roberts
The Drive-In on Route 1
Alexandria, Virginia, 1941
J. Baylor Roberts/National Geographic Image Collection/Steven Kasher Gallery

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“Steven Kasher Gallery is proud to present the exhibition National Geographic: The Past and Future Present. It is the gallery’s fifth show of works from the National Geographic archives, but our first that presents vintage illustrations side by side with vintage photographs. The one hundred works presented span the entire 20th century. Photographers will include Herbert Ponting, Baron von Gloeden, Maynard Owen Williams, and Hiram Bingham. Illustrators will include Thornton Oakley, Louis Agassi Fuertes, and Tom Lovell. The exhibition will encompass works that represent National Geographic’s rich history in the fields of geography, archaeology, exploration, science, wildlife and world cultures.

Themes explored include Past Civilizations, the Age of the Dinosaur, Space Travel, Native American Cultures, American Industry, the Sea, and Flora and Fauna. National Geographic: The Past and Future Present juxtaposes photographic images taken from life, botanical studies drawn from live specimens, and depictions of the past and the future, imagined but unseen. These juxtapositions will highlight changing visions of natural and human history as they have evolved over the twelve decades of the Society’s image making.

“This exhibition represents the continuation of a four-year partnership with the Steven Kasher Gallery to put our commissioned work in the public eye. The inclusion of illustrations in this exhibition demonstrates the overall range of our archive, which spans vintage and contemporary photography, as well as drawings, paintings and other illustrations from the late 1800s to the present day.”

Maura Mulvihill, Senior Vice President for National Geographic Society and Director of the National Geographic Image Collection”

Press release from the Steven Kasher Gallery website

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Washburn-Crosby Company
The Minneapolis Milling District, The Largest U.S. Flour Producer
1915
Washburn-Crosby Company/National Geographic Image Collection/Steven Kasher Gallery

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Charles Bittinger
Eclipse of the Sun by the Earth
1930s
Charles Bittinger/National Geographic Society/Steven Kasher Gallery

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Roland Reed
Tribute to Dead Piegan Blackfoot
Montana, 1912
Roland Reed/National Geographic Image Collection/Steven Kasher Gallery

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Herbert Ponting
Aboard the Terra Nova on the British Antartic Expedition 1910-1913
c. 1911
Herbert Ponting/National Geographic Image Collection/Steven Kasher Gallery

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Richard Hewitt Stewart
Colossal Olmec Head
La Venta, Mexico, 1940
Richard Hewitt Stewart/National Geographic Image Collection/Steven Kasher Gallery

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Thorton Oakley
Liquid Steel Pours From an Electric Furnace
1940s
Thorton Oakley/National Geographic Society/Steven Kasher Gallery

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Steven Kasher Gallery
521 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011
T: 212 966 3978

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday 11.00am – 6.00pm

Steven Kasher Gallery website

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11
Apr
12

Exhibition: ‘The Heart of the Great Alone: Scott, Shackleton and Antarctic Photography’ at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London

Exhibition dates: 21st October 2011 – 15th April 2012

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Continuing my fascination with all things Antarctic, here are more photographs from the Scott and Shackleton expeditions. The photograph Captain Lawrence Oates and Siberian ponies on board ‘Terra Nova’ by Herbert Ponting (1910, see below) is simply breathtaking.

Many thankx to The Royal Collection for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Herbert Ponting
Captain Lawrence Oates and Siberian ponies on board ‘Terra Nova’
1910
© 2011 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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Frank Hurley
Sir Ernest Shackleton arrives at Elephant Island to take off marooned men
30 August 1916
© 2011 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
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This photograph was actually taken at the time of the ‘James Caird’s’ departure on 24 April. Hurley has altered it to represent the moment of rescue, with the arrival of Shackleton on the ‘Yelcho’. The actual rescue was not photographed.

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Union Jack taken by Scott to the South Pole
1911-12
© 2011 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
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This Union Jack was given to Scott by the recently widowed Queen Alexandra on 25 June 1910 for him to plant at the South Pole. The flag was recovered with Scott’s body and returned to the queen by his wife, Kathleen, on 12 July 1913

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“The photographs of Herbert Ponting and Frank Hurley may be stencilled into the collective memory after nearly a century of over-exposure. But it’s not often you get to see them away from the printed page, and they certainly bring out fresh depths and new perspectives…

It turns out to be highly instructive seeing Hurley and Ponting hung in neighbouring rooms. I’ve always taken Ponting to be somehow the lesser snapper. Hurley had the greatest photostory ever captured land in his lap when Shackleton’s ship the Endurance was trapped in ice floes and held fast for months before pressure ridges eventually crushed it like a dry autumn leaf. Like a good journalist Hurley recorded these traumas and more while also taking the chance to experiment with the strange light and baroque shapes supplied by his surroundings.

Ponting’s story was different. Four or so years earlier, and on the other side of the Antarctic land mass, he didn’t stray far from the expedition base, and indeed was left on the Terra Nova while Scott’s polar party were still out on the ice, trudging balefully towards immortality. There’s something about Ponting’s floridly unmodern moustache which sets him apart from the clean-shaven younger men in either expedition, as if he never quite left the studio behind.

But the photographs are astonishing… The story here is the unequal battle between man and ice, the castellations and ramparts of bergs dwarfing explorers with dogs and sledges placed at their foot to give a sense of scale. Ponting also has a beautiful eye for filigree detail, never more than in one picture of long spindly icicles echoing the adjacent rigging of the Terra Nova.

One of the revelations is that the originals play up the drama of Ponting’s work much more than Hurley’s, which are printed at half the size. For all the astonishing pictures – a field of ice flowers, the masts of the Endurance all but shrouded by Brobdingnagian ice clumps – the final impact of Hurley’s collection lies in the fact that they exist at all… That is partly why Ponting trumps Hurley in this show. His pictures of Scott’s men have never felt more immediate.”

Rees, Jasper. Review of “The Heart of the Great Alone: Scott, Shackleton and Antarctic Photography, Queen’s Gallery” on the Arts Desk website. Thursday, 27 October 2011 [Online] Cited 06/04/2012.

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Herbert Ponting
The ramparts of Mount Erebus
1911
© 2011 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
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Mount Erebus, an active volcano on Ross Island which last erupted in 2008, was first climbed in 1908 by members of Shackleton’s Nimrod expedition. Ponting has contrasted the overwhelming size of the natural world against the tiny human figure pulling a sledge, in the lower left corner of the photograph.

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“It is a story of heroism and bravery, and ultimately of tragedy, that has mesmerised generations. One hundred years on from their epic voyages to the very limits of the Earth, and of man’s endurance, the legends of Scott and Shackleton live on.

To mark the centenary of Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s expedition to the South Pole, the Royal Collection brings together, for the first time, a collection of the photographs presented to King George V by the official photographers from Scott’s Terra Nova expedition of 1910-13 and Shackleton’s expedition on Endurance in 1914-16, and unique artefacts, such as the flag given to Scott by Queen Alexandra (widow of King Edward VII) and taken to the Pole.

The exhibition documents the dramatic landscapes and harsh conditions the men experienced, through the work of expedition photographers Herbert Ponting and Frank Hurley. These sets of photographs are among the finest examples of the artists’ work in existence – and the men who took them play a vital part in the explorers’ stories. Highlights from Scott’s voyage include Ponting’s The ramparts of Mount Erebus, which presents the vast scale of the icescape, and the ethereal The freezing of the sea. Among the most arresting images from Hurley’s work on Shackleton’s expedition are those of the ship Endurance listing in the frozen depths and then crushed between floes.

The photographs also give insights into the men themselves. For instance, at the start of the journey Scott appears confident and relaxed, with his goggles off for the camera. In contrast, a photograph taken at the Pole shows him and his team devastated and unsmiling, knowing they had been beaten. The exhibition also records the lighter moments of expedition life, essential for teams cut off from the outside world for years at a time. On Shackleton’s expedition, a derby for the dogs was organised – with bets laid in cigarettes and chocolate. A menu for Midwinter’s Day, on 22 June 1911, shown in the accompanying exhibition publication, includes roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, ‘caviare Antarctic’ and crystallised fruits.

Antarctic adventurer David Hempleman­Adams has been closely involved in the exhibition and has written an introduction to the catalogue. First given the taste for adventure by The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, he was inspired, like generations of school children, by the tales of discovery. As a South Pole veteran, the first Briton to reach the Pole solo and unsupported, he is still in awe of Scott and Shackleton’s achievements – and will return with his daughter this year to mark the centenary. David Hempleman­ Adams said: “We have a big psychological advantage today: We know it is possible to reach the South Pole. Nowadays you can go on Google Earth and see what’s there. Back then, it was just a big white piece of paper. Scott and Shackleton had no TVs, radios or satellite phones – they were cut off from the outside world – and in terms of equipment, the tents, skis and sledges, today, we carry about one tenth of what they carried, over the same mileage. What they achieved, with what they had, is really magnificent. This is the 100th anniversary and the legend has stood the test of time. Even in this modern world, there’s still just as much interest.”

As the photographs show, animals played an important part in the expeditions. There are portraits of the ponies and of individual sledge dogs. In his diaries, Scott describes the relationship he struck up with the bad­tempered husky Vida: “He became a bad wreck with his poor coat… and… I used to massage him; at first the operation was mistrusted and only continued to the accompaniment of much growling, but later he evidently grew to like the warming effect and sidled up to me whenever I came out of the hut… He is a strange beast – I imagine so unused to kindness that it took him time to appreciate it.”

Ponting also photographed wildlife, including seals, gulls and penguins. Scott writes of the moment Ponting tried to photograph killer whales and how the creatures crashed through the ice to catch him. Scott, watching but unable to help, observes, “It was possible to see their tawny head markings, their small glistening eyes, and their terrible array of teeth – by far the largest and most terrifying in the world.”

The inspirational qualities of the explorers were recognised by King George V. In his book, The Great White South, Ponting records what the Monarch said to him when he went to Buckingham Palace to show his Antarctic film: “His Majesty King George expressed to me the hope that it might be possible for every British boy to see the pictures – as the story of the Scott Expedition could not be known too widely among the youth of the nation, for it would help to promote the spirit of adventure that had made the Empire.”

Royal interest in polar exploration began with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who followed the fortunes of the early adventurers, such as Sir John Franklin and William Bradford, and it continues to this day. The Duke of Edinburgh, who has written a foreword to the exhibition catalogue, has been the patron of many of David Hempleman­Adams’s expeditions and has himself crossed the Antarctic Circle. HRH The Princess Royal is Patron of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust.”

Press release from The Royal Collection website

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Herbert Ponting
Grotto in an iceberg
5 January 1911
© 2011 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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Herbert Ponting
Captain Scott
February 1911
© 2011 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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This photograph of Scott, with Mount Erebus in the background, was taken at the start of the expedition. He is wearing fur gloves with an attached cord, leather boots, gaiters and thick socks

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The Royal Collection
The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace
London SW1A 1AA

Opening hours:
Open daily, 10.00 – 17.30

The Queen’s Gallery website

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06
Sep
11

Review: ‘Scott’s Last Expedition’ at the Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney

Exhibition dates: 17th June – 16th October 2011

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Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13

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Herbert Ponting
The former whaling ship, the Terra Nova
Canterbury Museum NZ

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Anon
Captain Robert Falcon Scott
Licensed with permission of the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge

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Herbert Ponting
Members of the Terra Nova expedition with Scott in the centre
Canterbury Museum NZ

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It is difficult to describe how heroic a figure Robert Scott, ‘Scott of the Antarctic’ was to a child of the Empire growing up in the 1960s. He and his doomed party were, and still are, the quintessential heroes of my youth. Despite what we now know of Scott’s failures in leadership and organisation, he and his comrades remain embedded in English consciousness as all that is noble about the explorers of the time. They may have failed to become the first to reach the South Pole and died on the return journey but what a magnificent effort it was, what camaraderie and fortitude they showed in the face of adversity.

At the centre of the exhibition at the Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney is a representation of Scott’s base camp at Cape Evans. Visitors can walk inside the life-size hut and get a sense of the everyday realities for the 25 expedition members, from the cramped conditions and homeliness of the hut, to the wealth of specimens collected and experiments conducted. The exhibition also reunites the artefacts used by Scott and his team together with scientific specimens collected during the 1910-1913 expedition for the first time since their use in Antarctica. The exhibition uses life-size reproductions of the photographs of Herbert Ponting. At this scale it enables the viewer to inspect in intimate detail the habitus of their lives.

What a master of photography Ponting was. His photographs are classically framed and formally restrained; his use of light is magical. The camera always seems to be in the perfect position to capture the subject, neither too high or low but beautifully balanced so that the eye is led into the photograph, to investigate those wonderful nooks and crannies of the image plane. Because of the excellent quality press images I have been able to close in on details of the photographs (a la Ken Burns). The receding row of male faces to the left of Scott’s birthday dinner, June 1911 (below) that lead to Scott as the focal point at the head of the table, flags of St. George flying above, the two standing men acting as vertical counterpoints to the equipoise of the horizontal perspectival point – and then we glimpse the punctum of the piece of bread held between darkened fingers and thumb of the man caught in mid-conversation with his neighbour. Also note the framed images on the wall behind at top left, bearing witness to the fact that living is more civilised in such a desolate place if you are surrounded by images of culture and home.

This remembrance becomes poignant in the photograph Scott writing in his area of the expedition hut, Scott’s cubicle (below). In the detail of the image we observe candid photographs of what are presumably Scott’s wife in two photographs that are slightly different from each other, his wife and child, his father and small photographs of his children pinned to the hut’s wall. Memories of home and family that become multiple momenti mori – the death of the people in the images pinned to the wall, the death present in Pontings’ photograph (the little death at the point in time that the photograph was taken) and the death of Scott himself. The pocket watch hung from a wooden post only adds to this sense of refractive timelessness.

The sense of these men living in close quarters in this community is beautifully captured in Ponting’s photograph The Tenements, 9 October 1911 (below). Three vertical lozenges project into the space from the bottom of the image, each containing its own theatrical diorama. The balance and space between the men looking across, down, up and out of the image is outstanding. The distance between Oates in the top centre and the man on the right seems somehow infinite in the photograph, like the distance in Alfred Hitchcock’s film North by Northwest where Cary Grant is waiting for the bus in the middle of nowhere and on the other side of the road is another man, also waiting. The spatial tension between the two men in the photograph is palpable, emphasised by the stacked horizontal shelf behind them. The gaze of the man at bottom left allows the viewer some room for escape from the confines of the tenements and the confines of the image plane, for without that gaze the viewer would be caught with no way out. In the detail of this man we can, as before, note the importance of personal remembrances of home with a picture pinned on the wall behind his bunk and a Fry’s Cocoa box stored underneath.

And so to the final few photographs in the posting: the famous photograph of Scott and the Polar Party at the South Pole (below) taken by Henry Bowers. Taken the day after the party had arrived at the South Pole, only to discover that Roald Amundsen had beaten them to their goal by five weeks, Bowers (seated at bottom left) used a string to release the shutter of the camera that can just be seen in his right hand in the photograph – a photograph that was then printed by Herbert Ponting from the recovered glass plate negative. In the detail of Scott and Oates in this photograph you can see the weariness, anguish and defeat in faces that are sun and wind damaged, knowing that they had to trek all the way back from this awful place (as Scott himself said, “Great God! This is an awful place”).

I have put a photograph by Herbert Ponting, Captain Lawrence Edward Grace Oates during the British Antarctic Expedition of 1911-1913, below the detail of him at the South Pole. The face is almost unrecognisable from the strong, handsome face in Ponting’s picture, the prominent nose now blackened and dark being the only thing that makes it recognisably the same person. In the detail of Ponting’s photograph, if you enlarge it, you can see two small points of light in his eyes, probably the light of the polar sun when Ponting took the photograph. For me these two spots of light become portents of what was to come as Oates walked out into a blizzard saying those immortal words, “I am just going outside and may be some time”. To me these points of light seared into his retina are like the driving snow that he walked out into in such a selfless act. It is very emotional for me as an Englishman and as a human being to look into the face of this man knowing what he was eventually to go through.

Though they failed in their quest to become the first to the South Pole, for this child, for this man they will forever remain my heroes.

Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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Many thankx to the Australian National Maritime Museum for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Herbert Ponting
Scott’s birthday dinner, June 1911
Canterbury Museum NZ

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Herbert Ponting
Scott’s birthday dinner, June 1911 (detail)
Canterbury Museum NZ

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Herbert Ponting
Scott writing in his area of the expedition hut, Scott’s cubicle
Pennell Collection, Canterbury Museum NZ

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Herbert Ponting
Scott writing in his area of the expedition hut, Scott’s cubicle (detail)
Pennell Collection, Canterbury Museum NZ

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Herbert Ponting
The Tenements, 9 October 1911
Pennell Collection, Canterbury Museum NZ

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Herbert Ponting
The Tenements, 9 October 1911 (detail)
Pennell Collection, Canterbury Museum NZ

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Herbert Ponting
Edward Atkinson in the laboratory
Canterbury Museum NZ

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Herbert Ponting
Edward Atkinson in the laboratory (detail)
Canterbury Museum NZ

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“One hundred years after its tragic end, the definitive story of British explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s Terra Nova expedition to Antarctica is being told in a major international exhibition coming to the Australian National Maritime Museum this June.

Scott’s Last Expedition will reunite real artifacts used by Scott and his team together with rare scientific specimens collected during the 1910-1913 expedition for the first time since their use in Antarctica.

When Scott set off on what was his second journey to explore the Antarctic on board the former whaling ship Terra Nova, he could not have predicted it would be his last. Tragically he and four of his colleagues died on the return trek to the South Pole two years later, having lost the race to be first. The exhibition however will go beyond the familiar tales of the journey to the Pole and the death of the Polar party to explore the Terra Nova expedition from every angle.

“Over the years public perceptions of Scott have varied greatly, from hero to flawed leader, and discussions of what really happened still captivate people,” said museum director Mary-Louise Williams today. “This exhibition will give visitors a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in this epic journey and the remarkable landscape of Antarctica,” she said.

Visitors will uncover Scott the man, learn more about the people who made up the expedition and explore every fascinating detail of this historic journey. At the centre of the exhibition will be a life-size representation of Scott’s Cape Evans’ base camp. Visitors can walk inside and get a sense of the everyday realities for the expedition’s members… from the cramped conditions and homeliness of the hut to the wealth of specimens collected and scientific investigations conducted.

Original artifacts, equipment, clothes, and personal effects will be displayed for the first time in Australia and show the group’s attempts to make life in one of the most hostile environments on Earth as bearable as possible. Food tins including Fry’s Cocoa, Trufood Trumilk, and Symington’s Pea Flour recovered from the hut will be on display together with instruments, a microscope, and even Scott’s gramophone.

Photographs of the environment and life in camp taken by expedition photographer Herbert Ponting and poignant letters and diaries by various expedition members create a vivid picture of what life was like… working in hostile conditions, the struggles for survival and the strength of human endurance and courage.

Scott’s Terra Nova expedition made a significant contribution to Antarctic science. The expedition included a full scientific program with a large team of scientists making new discoveries which directly led to a greater understanding of Antarctica. The scientists had to endure harsh Antarctic conditions to carry out their work. It was cold, windy and completely dark in winter and, if not careful, the scientists could easily get frostbitten. And yet despite the conditions, the expedition left a rich legacy that continues to inspire and inform today.

Natural History Museum, London, the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, New Zealand and the Antarctic Heritage Trust, New Zealand, have collaborated to create this exhibition to commemorate the centenary of the expedition and celebrate its achievements.”

Press release from the Australian National Maritime Museum

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Scott and the Polar Party at the South Pole
Left to right: Captain Lawrence Oates, Lieutenant Henry Bowers (seated), Captain Robert Falcon Scott, Dr Edward Wilson (Seated), Petty Officer Edgar Evans
Licensed with permission of the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge.

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The fatal journey

Scott’s 1,450 km journey to the geographic South Pole began on 1 November 1911, two weeks after the Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen left his base camp at the Bay of Whales. Amundsen reached the pole first – on 14 December 1911 – and then raced back to tell the world their news. Scott and his team reached the Pole a month later on 17 January 1912 having been beset by fierce weather conditions. The disappointment was immense. The return journey was undertaken in horrid weather with harsh, intense cold and violent blizzards that, in the end, defeated them. Evans failed first, suffering concussion from a fall; Oates suffered dramatic frostbite to his feet – gangrene had set in – and he crawled out of the tent saying the now famous words, “I am just going outside and may be some time”. The remaining men – Scott, Wilson and Bowers – were weak with malnutrition, starvation and exhaustion and perished on or around 29/30 March 1912 – some three weeks after the world learned that Amundsen had reached the Pole first.

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Captain Robert Falcon Scott (detail)

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Captain Lawrence Oates (detail)

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Herbert Ponting
Captain Lawrence Edward Grace Oates during the British Antarctic Expedition of 1911-1913
ca. 1911
Silver gelatin print
Photographic Archive, Alexander Turnbull Library

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Herbert Ponting
Captain Lawrence Edward Grace Oates during the British Antarctic Expedition of 1911-1913 (detail)
ca. 1911
Silver gelatin print
Photographic Archive, Alexander Turnbull Library

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Australian National Maritime Museum
2 Murray Street
Darling Harbour
Sydney NSW 2000
Australia

Opening hours:
Every day 9.30 am – 5.00 pm

Australian National Maritime Museum website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Mask’ 1994

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