• Terra-nova-c-h-ponting-photograph-canterbury-museum-nz-19xx_2_432

    Terra Nova. ©H Ponting photograph, Canterbury Museum NZ, 19XX.2.432

  • Atkinson-_-h-ponting-canterbury-museum

    Dr Edward Atkinson in the laboratory ca 1911 © H Ponting photograph Canterbury Museum New Zealand

  • Adelie-penguin_c_-natural-history-museum_-london

    Adélie penguin Pygoscelis adeliae © The Natural History Museum

  • Brittle-star_c_-natural-history-museum_-london

    Brittle star, Astrotoma agassizii © The Natural History Museum

  • Scott-in-hut-_-h-ponting-photograph_-pennell-collection_-canterbury-museum-nz-1975_2

    Scott writing in his area of the expedition hut, Scott’s cubicle ©H Ponting photograph

  • Emperor-penguin-egg1-_c_-natural-history-museum_-london

    © The Natural History Museum

  • Expedition-team-with-scott-centre-_-h-ponting-photograph_-pennell-collection_-canter

    © The Natural History Museum

  • Golden-syrup-tin-_-canterbury-museum-nz

    Lyles Golden Syrup tin ©Canterbury Museum New Zealand

  • Ski-boots_-said-to-have-belonged-to-scott-_-canterbury-museum-nz

    Ski boots, said to have belonged to Scott ©Canterbury Museum New Zealand

  • Isopod_-glyptonotus-antarcticus-_-natural-history-museum-london

    Isopod, Glyptonotus antarcticus © The Natural History Museum

  • Rowntrees-tin-_-canterbury-museum-nz

    © The Natural History Museum

  • Coffee-tin-c-canterbury-museum-nz

    Coffee tin ©Canterbury Museum New Zealand

  • Dog-and-gramophone-c-h-ponting-photograph-canterbury-museum-nz

    Chris and the Gramophone ca 1911 © H Ponting photograph Canterbury Museum New Zealand

  • Lashly_s_goggles-c-canterbury-museum-nz

    Lashly’s snow goggles ©Canterbury Museum New Zealand

Exhibition

What's On: Scott's Last Expedition

Posted by Bryony Quinn,

Even if you think you know about Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s last expedition to Antarctica, it’s quite different to see the artefacts – the letters and journal entries, the boots, aluminium slitted sun goggles and specimens in jars, the extraordinary ghost-like footage of Herbert Ponting’s Great White Silence. Seeing them and reading through the fascinating and saddening anecdotal records is something else entirely. Displayed within a full scale model of the wooden hut at Cape Evans where the team stayed through the winter months, this show at the Natural History Museum in London is worth every second. If you can ignore school children.

It starts with the part of the story everyone knows – newspaper cuttings announce that Scott and his team perished whilst returning from the South Pole, a feat forestalled by a Norwegian team lead by Roald Amundsen. The tragedy of their disappointment and extraordinary struggle for survival branded Scott and the men national heroes of the day, aided by Scott’s own diaries that chronicled it all to the last.

But you come to grips with the letters and journals later in the show, first you are taken back to the beginning and the monumental effort that went into bringing the expedition to pass at all.

There are brilliant little insights and rare artefacts like the sponsored packs of food and woollen pants – their original packaging a joy in their own right – and a sort of day-to-day itinerary of objects that served in turn for entertainment, science and survival (I made particular note of the 10 cases of brandy and 120 bottles of fortified wine they took).

The space itself is very cleverly laid out, stories of the team, members where their bunks were, detail on the scientific endeavours in the makeshift labs together with quite beautiful illustrations of their findings (they brought back over 2,000 plant and animal species, 401 of which were new to science) and everywhere, photos.

Ponting was an artist, his films and images doing more to project the terrible beauty and hardy tale of perseverance directly into the nation’s imagination than written reports which, in the swing of public opinion, would later be raised as a point of contention with Scott’s heroism contradicted (only to return, 100 years later, to a more balanced view).

Personally, I’m into all the writing in an exhibition of this sort – I didn’t feel like I was being beaten over the head with a history book and the creative chronology in its curation made the whole thing play out like a film or documentary, with the weight of the show’s conclusion casting each piece of their expedition in an affecting and all the more remarkable light.

Portrait9

Posted by Bryony Quinn

Bryony was It’s Nice That’s first ever intern and worked her way up to assistant online editor before moving on to pursue other interests in the summer of 2012.

Most Recent: Exhibition View Archive

  1. List

    Listen up digital art types! If you’ve got great idea for a project that you haven’t been able to make happen, The Space may just be able to help. The not-for-profit venue has launched an open call to help a creative make that one crazy idea a reality, with funding and mentoring on offer. They say: “Nothing’s off limits; this is about pushing the boundaries and the project can take their point of departure from any artistic discipline, from music and film to visual arts and gaming.”

  2. Main

    Victoria Siddall has worked at Frieze for just over a decade and two years ago was made Director of Frieze Masters. Excitingly, just a few weeks ago she was appointed Director of Frieze Masters, Frieze New York and Frieze London. As well as being one of the most powerful women in the art world, Victoria is also my sister, so I was curious to find out how she’s feeling on the dawn of her new career.

  3. Main

    Imagine a dream world in which the heavy task of town planning was given over to the artists and creatives whose visions could ignite the city and bring out its most defining features. Some cities in the world are known for their cultural heritage: Nantes wasn’t one of these until 15 years ago, and since then it’s been a slow burn fuelled by the imagination of a group of risk-takers coralled by French public art impressario Jean Blaise and his curator David Moinard.

  4. Avlist1._alexander_rodchenko_costume_design_for_bedbug_1929__a._a._bakhrushin_state_central_theatre_museum

    For years I ventured no further than the hallowed halls of the lower floors of the V&A. And then, one day, like Lucy and Edmund tiptoeing upstairs to discover Narnia, I crept into the Theatre and Performance Galleries and found another magical wardrobe.

  5. List

    There are several cool job titles found in British history and Constable of the Tower of London is right up there. The Duke of Wellington took the office on route to becoming Prime Minister and made several major innovations including draining the moat, closing the Royal Menagerie and shutting down the taverns within its walls. All of which makes him sound like a prize spoilsport, but in fact after his tenure the Tower was both better-equipped for its military purposes and drawing more visitors than ever.

  6. List

    The South London Gallery describes Lawrence Weiner, whose new exhibition All in Due Course opened there last Friday, as a “reluctant pioneer of conceptual art,” which must be one of the coolest epithets going. The American artist has been creating his typographic wall sculptures since the 1970s when he first pioneered his unique medium which he maintains is not conceptualism but a kind of sculpture made using “language + the materials referred to.”

  7. Blist25.-simon-norfolk_-a-secuirty-guards-booth..._-herat_-2010-2011.-burke_norfolk.-courtesy-simon-norfolk

    Once upon a time, the church spires of New York offered an unrivalled view of the city. But in photographer Berenice Abbott’s Manhattan of the 1930s, skyscrapers shot up on every side and suddenly there were windows and back streets, balconies, construction sites and advertising billboards all crying out for a camera to capture their unique perspective of the metropolis. Changing New York is Abbott’s anatomy of the town, dissecting it, discovering its dramatic angles, dappled shadows and dilapidated dwellings. Her work is a fitting opening for the Barbican Art Gallery’s Constructing Worlds exhibition, exploring architecture and its relationship to the world through more than 250 images from 18 artists.

  8. Gwlist18

    Even if you haven’t seen it, you’ll have heard of it, because Gone With The Wind is still, 75 years after its release, the most successful blockbuster of all time. David O. Selznick’s multi-Oscar winning film has weevilled its way deep into the American – and the world’s – subconscious, creating so vivid a cultural memory we’re almost tricked into believing we lived through it all too. Even a lass like me, “southern” only in the east London sense of the word.

  9. Eslistst-columba's-wells_-londonderry-(derry)-_-n-ireland_-1965-(c)-edwin-smith_-riba-library-photographs-collection

    Edwin Smith’s England is a faraway place, and yet a familiar one. It’s a land inhabited by long-skirted ladies with perms, where brass cash registers are used on high streets fronted by butchers and bakers and grocers. No surprise then that the people’s poet Sir John Betjeman dubbed Smith a “genius at photography” because he has, in his vast collection of photographs of city and countryside, inside and outside, captured the essence of the now-distant England portrayed in the writer’s verse.

  10. List

    Imagine for a moment that the shoebox under your bed was filled not with photos of your Great Aunt June snoozing on the sofa last Christmas, but with photographs taken in space by astronauts on Apollo 14. For a lucky few at NASA this is (almost) true, and fortunately they’re more than happy to share their treasures with us proles in the form of a new exhibition at London’s BREESE Little Gallery.

  11. List

    20 years ago in 1994, little known designer Eike König set up his “graphic design playground” Hort, creating a community in the centre of Berlin where creatives could collaborate on ideas and client briefs side by side. Nowadays, the playground is slightly bigger, undertaking work for Nike, The New York Times and Walt Disney among others, but the underlying emphasis on collaboration and experimentation remains exactly the same.

  12. Olafurlist

    “Riverbed is running.” So tweeted Studio Olafur Eliasson yesterday – a poetic press release if ever I heard one – to announce the opening of the Danish-Icelandic artist’s latest epic installation. Something of a titan in the art world, having already created moon, he’s now built riverbed in the south wing of the Louisiana Musuem of Modern Art in Denmark.

  13. List

    If, while walking down the street, flicking through a magazine or sitting on a bus recently you’ve found yourself looking at a movie poster, you’re probably in some way come into contact with the influence of Hans Hillmann. When the German graphic artist began producing film posters in 1953 at the height of the Modernist era, few realised he’d have such a profound effect on the industry, but his bold, Minimalist-inspired creations set a new standard for .