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Author: Marie-Amande

Date: 11 February 2013

Temperature: -12C

Wind speed: 12 knots

 

 

Regular readers may already know that Antarctic Heritage Trust conservators have two 'labs' (or laboratories) at Scott Base, a summer one and a winter one. The summer one is small and in a container outside the main building. Luckily, in winter, the base gets pretty empty and Scott Base staff let us enjoy a very spacious lab inside the base. We will move into the lab once all ship fuel and cargo offloads for the winter season, as they use the space as a temporary staging post. But we were all so excited to start working that we set up a temporary lab inside while two of us began work in the 'summer' lab.

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Stefanie starts work in the conservator's cage's dust cabinet

 

Adjacent to the winter lab is a storage area divided into compartments, by wire fences (each about 8sqm). Jaime, our carpenter conservator, had already planned to have his workshop in one of these 'cages', and we just followed his idea. As the summer scientists left the base, we requested the cages: one for the photography area, one to work in … and so on. We transformed the shelves into benches and, to be really clean in an area that wasn't already ours, we built up a very basic dust cabinet. With several kinds of plastic sheet we made an enclosed area with a window and access holes for our hands and the Dremel, a drill-like tool we use to mechanically remove corrosion from metal artefacts. So, here we are, hands in the cage's cage!

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Jaime has set up his workshop for the season

 

The cages are actually really convenient to isolate the different task areas. When the two people still working in the summer lab join us in the freshly installed winter lab, I'm pretty sure we'll try to keep some of our lovely cages as they are. But we'll let you know …

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Scott Base remembers ....

Posted by Conservators Feb 28, 2013

Author: Sue

Date: 24 February 2013

Temperature: -5 Degrees C

Wind Speed: None

Sunrise: 23:51

Sunset: 04:10

 

 

Last week marked the second anniversary of the devastating earthquake that struck Christchurch, claiming 185 lives and leaving much of the city in ruins. Since then more than 11,000 aftershocks have shaken the city and its people, and much of the CBD has been cleared.

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Marble statue of Captain Robert Falcon Scott following the earthquake (source: http://twitpic.com/458e6g)


Among the many monuments and buildings damaged in the 6.3-magnitude quake was the heritage-listed marble statue of Captain Robert Falcon Scott in Worcester Boulevard (a replica of Kathleen Scott's 1915 bronze statue of Scott in London's Waterloo Place). The marble statue, also sculpted by Scott's widow, Kathleen, and unveiled in 1917, toppled from its plinth and was broken in several places. It is currently on display in its broken state in Christchurch's Canterbury Museum  as part of  the major international touring exhibition Scott's Last Expedition, which tells the epic and tragic story of Scott's Terra Nova Expedition to the South Pole.

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Members of the outgoing summer team pay tribute to Christchurch with a road cone & flowers*


Christchurch, as New Zealand's gateway to Antarctica, is close to the hearts of all and home to many currently at Scott Base. On 22 February the base paid tribute to those who lost their lives and to the strength, fortitude and resilience of those who survived and are rebuilding their lives, homes and businesses. KIA KAHA Christchurch!

 

 

*Photo note: Due to their prevalence on Christchurch's street, the road cone has become an informal symbol for the earthquakes and the city's rebuild.

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All work and no play ...

Posted by Conservators Feb 21, 2013

Author: Jaime

Date: 10 February 2013

Temperature: -15C

Wind Speed: 5 knots

Temp with wind chill: -21C

Sunrise: Always

Sunset: Never

 

Since arriving Antarctica the winter team has been immersed in the intricacies of life at Scott Base, learning about new people, places and processes, and at the same time beginning our winter conservation programme. It can be a world of baffling acronyms, but eventually you do understand the true meaning of AHT having AFT briefings in the HFC.  (Antarctic Heritage Trust having Antarctic Field Training in the Hillary Field Centre).

 

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Huge crowds at the ski field © AHT/Jaime

 

Thankfully there is also time to relax and to join the season’s last trip to the Scott Base ski field, a simple rope tow emerging from the inevitable green shipping container and running up the same hillside where Scott's men learnt to ski over a century ago. It was a huge treat to be skiing with both great snow and stunning views across the vast ice shelf to the distant mountains. We made our final descent from Castle Rock and headed home in the warmth of the Hagglund with plans for our next day out. A skidoo ride possibly or a trip down a crevasse. Not literally of course.

 

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Sue plans our next excursion © AHT/Jaime

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Matchstick Men

Posted by Conservators Feb 19, 2013

Author: Stefan

Date: 13 February 2013

Temperature: -15.6

Wind Speed: 16 knots

Temp with wind chill: -34C

Sunrise: N/A

Sunset: N/A

 

 

Although from Manchester (no, I’m not homesick yet or about to wax lyrical about the paintings of LS Lowry as the title might suggest), my focus is upon the amazing photography of Herbert Ponting (Terra Nova Expedition), and in addition the amazing brain of my fellow conservator Jaime. Back in Christchurch (before we came to the Ice) we had the chance to visit Scott’s Last Expedition http://www.canterburymuseum.com/ an exhibition featuring some fascinating artefacts; it even includes a fantastic recreation of the the Cape Evans hut. As we were strolling around Jaime drew my attention to a brilliant, but seemingly innocuous, Ponting image of the hut’s southern aspect.

 

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Monnlight photograph of the Winterquaters Hut and camp with Mount Erebus in the background.  June 13th 1911.

 

© Herbert Ponting

 

Jamie explained that in using this particular image, in a previous season on the Ice, to accurately restore elements of the hut’s exterior, he had noticed certain elements of the photograph appeared ghostly and translucent. In realising Ponting had used an incredibly long exposure (lit by the moonlight), Jamie began to pick through the image and see many happenings that both arrive and disappear in the frame. The spookiest of these transitions is a dark figure who can be tracked lighting a cigarette/pipe in the doorway, walking to the left of the shot, dropping the match, and then inhaling (illuminating an intense white line, as the figure walks to the sea ice).

 

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Matches ready for conservation. © AHT/Marie-Amande

 

This project has a funny way of marrying everything up, and with Marie-Amande currently conserving a small tin of matches, you get a very clear perception of how deeply woven in history some objects can be.

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Author: Stefanie

Date: 11 February 2013

Temperature: -16C

Wind speed: 10 knots

Sunrise: N/A

Sunset: N/A

 

 

We are an international team of five conservators that met for the first time only a few weeks ago. Since meeting, we have had the opportunity to get to know one another while preparing for this season's conservation project and for a winter on the ice.  It is my pleasure to introduce you to the conservation team currently working in the Antarctic:

 

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Jaime, Sue, Stefan, Stefanie and Marie in the lab.

 

Sue Bassett, from Australia, is our lead conservator. Sue specialies in objects conservation and has over 25 years' experience working in management and object conservation in museum and archaeological environments.

 

Stefan Strittmatter, a metals and stone conservator from England, joins the team for his second winter on the ice. Stefan has experience in the conservation of materials in outdoor environments as well as in the conservation of artefacts from Scott's Hut at Cape Evans.

 

Jaime Ward, from Scotland, is the team's carpenter and timber conservator. Having summered over twice before on the ice, Jaime has experience in the restoration of the fabric of the historic huts at Cape Evans and Cape Royds as well as on the conservation of wooden artefacts from inside and outside the huts. 

 

Marie-Amande Coignard from France, specialises in the conservation of archaeological objects and has experience working with materials from marine environments.

 

I am Stefanie White, an objects conservator from Ireland. I am delighted to be part of the winter conservation team. Together the five of us are embarking on the conservation of over 1500 objects from Scott's Hut at Cape Evans.

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Stefanie, Marie, Jaime, Sue and Stefan at Cape Royds.

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Author: Sue

Date: 03 February 2013

Temperature: -8C

Wind Speed: 8 knots

Temp with wind chill: -18C

Sunrise: N/A

Sunset: N/A

 

 

 

The Antarctic Heritage Trust’s winter conservation Team 2013 has arrived on the ice with much excitement and is busy with inductions: handovers, field training and getting accustomed to the uniqueness of our new environment, including 24hr daylight (for a while, at least). Work on the artefacts brought in to Scott Base from Scott’s Terra Nova hut at Cape Evans by the outgoing summer team will soon begin in earnest.

 

As I prepared for my own first-time Antarctic experience as Lead Conservator, a previous Antarctic connection came to mind.  It relates to Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance expedition, the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914–17, on which the photographer was the renowned Frank Hurley.

 

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Hurley's Endurance photos, 1915

 

My Sydney-born paternal grandmother had an association with the Hurley family and was governess for a time to Frank and Antoinette’s identical twin daughters, (Sidney) Adelie and Toni, who were born in 1919. As a result of this connection, we have ‘family photos’ that include a collection of outstanding large-format B&W photographic prints by Frank himself. Gifts to my grandmother, the images include a couple from the Shackleton expedition showing Endurance being crushed in pack ice in the Weddell Sea. Although well-known and much-published images, we are privileged to have original Hurley prints on our walls and I can only begin to imagine the wonderful tales that would have accompanied them … including, I’m sure, Frank’s tales of recovering his glass-plate negatives from beneath the icy waters before the sinking Endurance was finally lost and of later having to destroy and discard most of those plates during the long and arduous trek across the sea ice.

 

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Outlook from Scott Base, 2013

 

And so with the utmost respect for all who have gone before, including Frank and others of the heroic era, we now begin our very own Antarctic winter-over experience with much anticipation.