Behind today’s advent calendar door is Ernest Shackleton’s ship, Endurance, photographed in 1915 by Frank Hurley. This startling image — which suggests the engulfing beauty of the Antarctic landscape, as well as the vulnerability of the ship (and all things human) within it, features in an exhibition I saw recently at Holyrood. Hurley was a superlative photographer of texture, and his images of the breaking up of the Endurance after it became trapped in the ice are particularly startling and powerful. I was even more drawn, though, to the terrifying quietness of Herbert Ponting’s images of Scott’s Terra Nova expedition. The brutal materiality of some of these photographs was quite gripping, and tremendously moving. It will be no surprise to you that I spent a lot of time focusing on what Scott’s party were wearing: their socks, their sweaters, their balaclavas, their skins and fur. I am reading lots about the history of outdoor wear at the moment, as well as being in the process of making some for myself, and I will say more about this another time. Anyway, if you are in or near Edinburgh, I heartily recommend you go and see this super exhibition. If not, you can enjoy it in a virtual sort of way through its excellent website (and accompanying audio commentary / podcast). Meanwhile, we are off to our own landscape of ice and snow today to celebrate Tom’s birthday in true Highland style. Hope you have a lovely weekend!

11 thoughts on “eighteen

  1. Hurley was the father of twin girls, Adelie and Antoinette, who are now of course quite elderly. They have never married, and still live together and dress the same. A couple of years ago the BBC took them to the Antarctic (which they had never visited) and made a documentary about their father’s work, and their reaction to the landscape he loved. It was very moving. I found a link to it :

    The women’s eccentricity makes it whimsical, but at the same time the power of the climate and the beauty of the landscape are the real stars of the film, I thought.


  2. Wishing you a beautiful trip and happy holidays… On the blog, you have hinted at troubles, and I send warmest heart-wishes for a swift, easy, and complete resolution.

    Thank you, too, for this blog, always gorgeous, inspiring, and thought-provoking.


  3. You might be interested to know that someone did a TOG rating of the clothes that Scott & his party wore on his trip to the Antarctic. It turned out to be 1.5 – even a lightweight duvet is 4.5. It’s no wonder they died of exposure.


  4. This looks like a fabulous exhibit at a beautiful venue. I went to NY about 10 yrs ago to see the exhibit on Shackleton at the Natural History Museum. It was timed to coincide with the publication of Caroline Alexander’s book. It was a thrill to see so many artifacts — the clothing, the diaries, the photos and of course, the James Caird. Such a small boat, such an incredible story.


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