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Antarctic conservation

80 Posts tagged with the conservation tag
0

Author: Gretel
Date: 2 May 2012
Temperature: -32 deg C
Wind Speed: 10 knots
Temp with wind chill: -48 deg C
Sunrise: n/a
Sunset n/a

 
If you’re an avid reader of our blogs you may wonder what we do with our spare time when we’re not playing golf, attending ceremonies, enjoying dinners and going on day trips. Well, we like to fit in some conservation from time to time.


This season we are extremely fortunate to be conserving a huge variety of interesting artefacts from the expedition bases.  Over winter the team will conserve around 1200 objects. I have been dealing with the items on a desk outside the dark room in Captain Scott’s hut at Cape Evans where there are a number of items relating to communication and one of these is this telegraph key.

Telegraph key before conservation.jpg

Telegraph key before conservation © AHT

The image of the key before conservation shows that the metal components are obscured by corrosion. Careful removal revealed that the screws are constructed from brass and that there is a layer of gold on the surface of the iron key mechanism. This isn’t unusual bearing in mind that electrical components today are still gold-plated to prevent the base metals oxidizing.


It was essential to reveal, but not remove, the gold layer. So after cleaning the metal it was coated with a lacquer to prevent the iron from further rusting and losing any more of the gold-plate.

Telegraph key after conservation.jpg

Telegraph key after conservation © AHT

 

Conservation also revealed drops of wax on the wooden base. Although they are not an original component of the object these were retained as they tell a story about the history of use of the artefact and are preserved to retain its historical integrity.

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Of What Lies Within

Posted by Conservators Apr 13, 2012

Author: Stefan
Date: 10th April 2012
Temperature: -22C
Wind Speed: 15kts
Temp with wind chill: -41C
Sunrise: 9.17am
Sunset: 4.30pm

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Stefan delving into a tin of 100 year old custard. AHT Stefan

“The constant draw of the fume cabinet whirred steadily like the idling  of a contented bees nest. Nitrile gloves had enveloped my hands without a snag or curse, and the rare sense of ease filled me with anything but. The air was dense with a dull smell, which only rumoured to the true overwhelming nature of what stench could lie within the heart of the looming rusty monolith before me.  Armed only with a spoon, I approached the vessel in a familiar routine of dining, but dear lord this mass could not be stomached. With the lid tentatively removed, the greenish yellow contents emerged like a bad moon rising…custard.”

 

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Tin samples (left to right) custard, salt, anchovy paste, polishing compound. AHT Stefan

 

Emptying  tins is a daily occurrence working with AHT. Depending upon how badly the object is corroded/stained, you get a varying clarity of what you may have to empty and dispose of. The contents are only removed when objects are found to be leaking, and could place other parts of the collection at risk. The majority of the contents are placed in biohazard bags and flown back to New Zealand to be incinerated, yet we always take a small sample to be placed in science freezers, in order that we can research or investigate this material whenever we choose. Anchovy paste (suspected) has been the smelliest sample I’ve taken so far, but my team mates assure me that, chocolate and butter are far worse.

1

Author: Susanne
Date: March 21, 2012
Temperature: -28.3°C
Wind Speed: 15 knots
Temp with wind chill: -62°C
Sunrise: 7:56AM
Sunset 8:00PM

When I am asked about my Antarctic experience, people are always curious about my favorite part. My answer: the people I meet!


The Antarctic Heritage Trust is logistically supported by Antarctica New Zealand, a government entity responsible for maintaining the base operations at Scott Base and supporting science events. The first time we meet the ten Scott Base crew that we are wintering with, is when we arrive on the ice. It’s always an exciting time since the summer season team is leaving and we are new faces to get to know. Over the past few months, we have spent more time with this spectacular crew and I also wanted to share the rest of their stories with you.


Shane is the Science Technician this year and originally hails from Queenstown, NZ. While his background is in electronics product design, he spends his time on the ice doing weather observations, maintaining the science experiments, and repairing electronics. After talking with Shane, I learned that his favorite part of being here is the winter family and that you can be yourself and find support in each other. He was attracted here by hearing about others good experiences and enjoys meeting and working with the types of people that come to Antarctica.

Shane.jpg
Shane at Discovery Point. Credit: Shane.


Naomi is the winter team First Aider and Domestic from Brisbane, Australia. In addition to living in New Zealand for 7 years, she has been attracted to living in different environments and has spent time in Africa and Canada.  Coming to Antarctica is something she has always wanted to do and her favorite part has been the people! With a diverse background as an ambulance volunteer and world traveller, she enjoys the work schedule and hopes to be able to get career experience.
Naomi.jpg
Naomi at Lake Vanda. Credit: Naomi.


Our winter chef this season is Bobbie from North Canterbury, NZ. Coming to Antarctica was a childhood dream and this is her second season with Antarctica New Zealand. Bobbie has a background in cafes and catering and produces some of the most incredible vegetarian dishes I have tasted. It helps that Bobbie herself is a vegan! She was attracted here by the mystery and magic that the continent holds and appreciates the fact that not a lot of people get to enjoy this opportunity. Her favorite part of the experience so far has been the view from the kitchen window! Not many chefs can wake up to a sunrise over the Antarctic continent!

Bobbie.jpg

Bobbie at Cape Bird. Credit: Naomi.

 

Hayden is the Telecom technician for the season and is responsible for linking us with the outside world! Originally from Palmerston North, NZ, he studied telecommunications and specialised in wireless engineering. Also a world traveller, Hayden wanted to experience the remote ruggedness of Antarctica that few get to experience. During the summer he assisted with several science events and was able to see truly untouched areas such as the Dry Valleys and Darwin Glacier. His favorite part of being here is the entire experience and as he perfectly puts it, “to look out over the ice shelf and see an untouched place of beauty”. Hayden is also on the Search and Rescue team for Scott Base and I know that we are in good hands with his years of experience and his appreciation for the environment.

Hayden1.jpg
Hayden at the Darwin Glacier. Credit: Hayden.


Simon, our fearless winter base manager, is originally from Invercargill, NZ. In addition to leading the base through the winter, Simon serves as field support and coordinates outdoor activities and gear maintenance. With a background in the building trade, he has travelled extensively and worked on sites in NZ and Australia. Wanting to do something he was more passionate about, he pursued ski patrolling and guiding while getting a diploma in ambulance practice. With this experience he heads the Search and Rescue team at Scott Base. His favorite part of the experience here has been the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the beautiful and powerful place that Antarctica is.
Simon.jpg
Simon at the South Pole. Credit: Trudie


I have really been enjoying my time here and having the opportunity to spend the winter with such great people. It really is the team that makes this experience so special!


 

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Fire in the Hole

Posted by Conservators Mar 15, 2012

Author: Georgina
Date: 14/03/12
Temperature: -8.7c
Wind Speed: 7 kts
Temp with wind chill: -16c
Sunrise: 6:58am
Sunset 9:02pm


The last few weeks have seen a great many changes as Scott Base has made the transition from summer to winter mode.  The summer is a hectic period of 24-hour daylight when there can be  as many as 90 people on base at any time, made up of science teams and project groups as well as support staff.  Now however, we are down to our full winter complement of 14; a skeleton base crew of 10, plus our 4 AHT conservators.  Officially this change was marked by the flag ceremony, a tradition dating back to 1957, when the youngest person on base is tasked with lowering the old summer flag and hoisting up the winter version; a small pennant-type standard that can better withstand the inclement weather to come.

 

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Flag ceremony at Scott Base © AHT/Susanne


Now, postcards and letters home have been hastily written to make the last mailbag, and last-minute orders of supplies and fresh vegetables have been received.  Finally, last Tuesday our crew gathered outside to toast the departure of the final flight from Pegasus Air Strip. Now there will be no movement on or off the continent until August.  An exciting time for all.

 

Ice Pier sm.jpg
The McMurdo ice pier used during summer for off-loading ship cargo; no longer needed and destroyed at the start of winter with high explosives

© AHT/Georgina

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All Aboard!

Posted by Conservators Mar 9, 2012

Author: Susanne
Date: 23/02/2012
Temperature: -12°C
Wind Speed: 15km/h
Temp with wind chill:
Sunrise: 4:49AM
Sunset 11:14PM

 

 

Believe it or not, even in Antarctica there are tourists! The curiosity and desire to discover new places and experiences is something we all share with the early explorers. We were very excited this past week to showcase our work with passengers from the Spirit of Enderby, operated by Heritage Expeditions.


The passengers were all well travelled and knowledgeable individuals from universities, museums, and non-profits. They are specifically on board to raise awareness for the environmental and cultural issues that are occurring between Stewart Island and the South Pole.

Visiting Scott Base is a large part of their experience and one of the highlights of the tour is the Antarctic Heritage Trust laboratory. Even though we are just starting our season, we still had many exciting projects to share. Stefan, being an avid chef, happened to be working on several kitchen related objects. George showcased some of the newspapers and cards the explorers used (which she has become quite partial to). Gretel displayed the pony accoutrements that have been found at the huts, such as leather straps, and I spoke about wool socks and clothing.

Sprit of Enderby Tour.jpg

Stefan and Gretel speaking to a group from the Spirit of Enderby © AHT/Susanne

 

One of the best parts of our job is getting to share what we do with the public. The cruise ships that pass through Antarctica are a great way to show people our work firsthand. It was fascinating to get to meet and interact with such interesting people. They also wrote several fantastic blogs about their visit: www.ourfarsouth.org. Maybe we will see you next time!

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News Team! Assemble!

Posted by Conservators Mar 4, 2012

Author: Georgina
Date: 21/02/12
Temperature: -3c
Wind Speed: 2 kts
Temp with wind chill: -5c
Sunrise: 3.26am
Sunset 12.50am

 


Whoever thought that being at the bottom of the world would open a door into the glittery world of TV glam!  On Saturday, TVNZ presenter Heather du Plessis-Allan and camera-man Byron Radford visited us at Scott Base to shoot some material about life in Antarctica as a feature for New Zealand’s Television One News.  As part of the shoot, our team was asked to talk about the conservation project and some of the conservation work we will be doing over the season.  This proved an excellent opportunity for us to showcase the work of the Trust, and also to pull out some of the more iconic artefacts, many of which we had yet to see.

 

Group During Break in Filming.jpg
In the AHT lab: a break during filming. © AHT/Susanne

 

After sprucing up the lab and combing our hair into some semblance of tidy, we each overcame our nerves to be interviewed in front of the camera.

 

Gretel During Filming.jpg

‘Alright, TVNZ, I’m ready for my close-up!’ Gretel works the shoot like a pro. © AHT/Susanne

Here at Scott Base we get one hour of news beamed in each day via satellite, which we can watch during dinner in the communal area. We are yet to learn whether our footage will make it onto national TV, but certainly our eyes will be glued to the box over the next few days.    
 

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Author: Stefan Strittmatter
Date: 06/02/2012
Temperature: -11C
Wind Speed: 9kn
Temp with wind chill: -19C
Sunrise: N/A
Sunset N/A


Life in Antarctica is a very human endeavor. For Captain Scott and the men of the 1910-13 expedition, and (to a much more flimsy degree) we four conservators, food (and its preparation) becomes of upmost importance very quickly.


Scott and his team were well placed at both Cape Evans and Discovery Hut to take advantage of the abundance of Weddell seals and their blubbery bounty. Al Fastier and his summer team of conservators have done a wonderful job of conserving an epic slab of this oozing mass of fat, (still present in the Cape Evans hut stables). Indeed a slight lean of the trough means there’s a filtered cup of oil slumped to the edge, making it effortless to visualize a frost bitten face swinging round the corner to scoop up and replenish a gasping stove.

 

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Seal blubber trough outside Cape Evans Stables © AHT/Stefan


Nowhere near as hardy, Susanne, Gretel, George and I were happy to ditch the heroic approach, and cook with soot free faces on the nifty ‘Primus’ stoves,  Scott Base has kindly supplied us with for AFT (Antarctic Field Training). A bit of a fiddle at first, but once the white gas starts to roar and the first brew is at the boil, you can’t help but feel a certain bond and romance, about the hardship and fun this wonderful place can offer.

 

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Cooking during winter AFT (Antarctic Field Training) © AHT/Stefan

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Author:      John
Date:        January 2012

 

My time spent working with the Antarctic Heritage Trust team at Ross Island Antarctica on the conservation of Shackleton’s Hut and Scott’s Hut at Cape Royds and Cape Evans respectively is drawing to an end.  I am 21 and from New Zealand on a programme called the Sir Peter Blake Trust Youth Antarctic Ambassador. We were at Cape Royds for 3 weeks in November and spent the remainder of the Antarctic summer at Cape Evans. We are the New Zealand Antarctic Programme’s  longest running field camp, spanning from the beginning of November to the end of January.


Antarctica is well known as being the coldest, windiest and driest place on earth. Each of these factors makes living in Antarctica challenging and demanding but when the correct procedures and equipment are used it is generally a pleasant and workable environment.


Keeping warm is obviously key. Antarctica New Zealand provides all the clothing which is similar to what would be worn on a ski field.  Thermal under layers, microfleece and wool then a wind stopper outer. At the beginning of the season it was down to minus 20 degrees Celsius. At that temperature, all exposed skin must be covered. A balaclava and goggles are worn.


Wind is the Antarctic killer as this creates additional cold or wind-chill which draws substantially more heat from the body. In mid December, the temperature rarely got to -10 degrees Celsius  and was often above zero. With no wind, it seems as though it is much warmer than it actually is. Activity level has a great deal to do with warmth and hence keeping cool is an issue when many clothes are worn during high activity levels and are shed – sweat becomes very cold when activity level reduces. So managing clothing is a learning curve.

 

At work.jpg
At work © AHT

 

We sleep in traditional Scott Polar tents. They are a proven design and can survive winds over 120 km/h when sufficiently guy roped. The sleeping bags are very warm, a down sleeping bag within another and a cotton sheet inner and outer. Normally this is too warm so one bag acts as a duvet. Liquid human waste is excreted in a tide crack (sea ice cracks due to the tide next to the land). When in the tent, we pee in a plastic “pee” bottle. Solid human waste is collected in a bucket and transported to be incinerated in New Zealand. The 24 hour day light takes a bit to get used to. The only time cue is the position of the sun or watch. The tent is always bright orange.

 

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Home on the Ice  © AHT

 

The environment is not dirty although there can be dust. We have no shower in the field but typically once a week I would have a flannel wash. This is more effective than you might think and uses minimal water.  Luckily we were able to go back to Scott Base for a shower mid trip.  A week per clothing set is standard during normal work. Socks are hung to air for a couple of days before being reused. Every few weeks, clothing is washed in a bucket. This level of cleanliness would be generally unacceptable elsewhere but we maintain a healthy level of cleanliness.  It is an almost sterile environment and very dry. We have no animal contact, dirt/mud or warmth so the dirtiness and bacteria encountered with camping or tramping at home is not an issue here.


Due to the creativeness of the team, we eat well. The food is dehydrated and frozen with an occasional supply of fresh food called “freshies”. We are near a penguin colony so we do not eat poultry as this could introduce disease. Because of the cold and high energy requirements, we eat substantial amounts of salami, cheese and chocolate. Fresh bread is cooked daily and the occasional cake.


Social interaction is key to healthy wellbeing. We have a lot of fun together with varied intellectual and humored conversation. Being busy working means our minds are always occupied. Sunday afternoons are a rest time which is stimulating and we would generally sit and watch a movie together. We have little opportunity to interact with family and friends at home. Calls can be made on the satellite phone although this is very expensive and difficult to fully engage in conversation with such short calls. We have daily radio communication with Scott Base Com’s to catch up on the news and pass on any messages.  I always remind myself that no news is good news. It is harder for the members of the team who have close family and are not used to this level of isolation. Personally I have enjoyed  the opportunity to be isolated from the high levels of social stimulus in my normal life. We concentrate and thrive on the fundamentals; personal social interaction, good food, shelter and warmth.

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Captain Scott's only Grandson - Falcon Scott visits Antarctica, January 2012


Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s only grandson, Falcon Scott, is helping to conserve his grandfather’s most famous Antarctic base this Antarctic summer season as part of the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust’s team of conservation specialists. Falcon took time out to answer a few questions about his experiences and the achievements of his famous grandfather.

 

NZAHT Falcon at the head of the wardroom table.jpg


How does it feel to be visiting Antarctica on the centenary of your grandfather’s expedition?


It is really amazing to be here in the Ross Sea area of Antarctica where my Grandfather set up the bases for his two expeditions to explore the coast and interior of Antarctica. It’s especially good to be here at the 100th anniversary of his successful attainment of the South Pole for Britain.


Part of your work in Antarctica is helping to conserve the expedition Hut for the Antarctic Heritage Trust (New Zealand). What were your impressions on first entering the Hut, and how did it feel to be in the place they lived and worked?


The work to conserve the Terra Nova Expedition Hut at Cape Evans is in full swing. There are currently seven Antarctic Heritage Trust (New Zealand) staff living at the site in a camp, and working on the building. This year, the work is concentrated on the interior of the hut  -  the furniture, bunks and  shelves etc.  As a late arrival to the camp, after spending Christmas with my family, the guys were already on site working but had very kindly re-assembled the interior of the hut in an orderly state for me to see on arrival.


When I first went into the Hut, I found it to be a very moving experience.  On entering the main interior room, the wardroom table stretched ahead of me, with the chairs on each side standing empty, but in the same position as in the famous photograph of the midwinter dinner and my Grandfathers birthday dinner.  It felt like there was still a presence of my Grandfather and the men sitting round the table, like his spirit was there.   Around the corner to the left is the area where my Grandfather had his den, a partition wall on two sides enclosing his bunk, some shelves, and the desk where he planned the southern journey to the Pole. Wilson and Evans slept opposite, a few feet away. I spent an hour on my own in the Hut, just soaking up the atmosphere, it was magical, and personally a very emotional experience.


Given your background as a carpenter, what kinds of practical things will you be doing to help out?

 

My work in helping the team this year involves lining the latrines hut against the ingress of storm driven ice and snow (which can get through tiny holes and gaps in the building), using canvas and bitumen felt, and replacing the original felt lining using photography to re-position every detail authentically including the orientation of every nail. I will also be helping to preserve some of the sea ice sledges and working on furniture items in the hut.


Can you get a sense of how it must have felt like for Scott and his men exploring this vast unknown territory? 


When the Terra Nova arrived through the storm swept seas of the Southern Ocean, through the pack ice, and finally penetrated the seasonal continental ice sheet to reach a point suitable for access to the Ice Shelf and the interior, they were 2,500 miles from the nearest human habitation, with no contact to the outside world  -  no radios, or satellites, no helicopters, or planes to drop extra supplies. Their survival for a full year, including the extreme weather of an Antarctic winter rested on the stores they had planned for, and loaded on to the ship. In addition, they had all the equipment for the most ambitious and comprehensive scientific programme ever undertaken by an expedition ship.


The tragic fate of the polar party told in your grandfather’s last diary remains one of most famous stories of the last century. What did it mean to you when you were growing up?


As a child I didn’t hear very much about my famous Grandfather. I remember my mother reading to me the Ladybird book about the expedition, and my sister had told me that he was famous when I was about three years old. But my Father was not really very interested and very much pursued his life as a painter, naturalist, and conservationist.


Your father Peter Scott was a conservationist, heeding to his father’s advice to be interested in natural history, rather than games.  How important do you feel natural history and sciences were to Scott?

 

I think my Grandfather was influenced by his friend Edward Wilson who was a distinguished zoologist, and having worked on the development of torpedoes in the Navy, was well into research and science. He became more and more interested in natural history as time went on.

                                                                         
Your grandfather’s expedition brought back over 40,000 scientific specimens from Antarctica, which now reside in the Natural History Museum’s collections. Do you do you feel this scientific legacy might have been overshadowed by the story of their deaths?


I am sure there have been periods when the very considerable scientific achievements of my Grandfather’s expeditions have been forgotten and writers have concentrated too much on the polar journey and the deaths of the five men on the return.  This, of course, is significantly due to the recovery of his diary in the following spring by the search party, and to the exceptional writing ability of my Grandfather with the contents of that diary.  The fact is, they were unlucky; they had warm weather at the outset, making the conditions difficult for the ponies, exceptionally cold weather on the ice shelf on their return (a one in 40 year cold period), unexpected evaporation of fuel supplies caused by faulty seals at the supply depots, and a diet that did not replace lost calories fast enough. These things all put together sealed their fate.


Finally, Robert Falcon Scott’s image has been through many manifestations throughout the last century.  How would you like him to be remembered?


I would like him to be remembered as masterminding one of the greatest expeditions to have left European shores, and to have added significantly to the culture of expanding the knowledge of mankind, and for his example of thinking through a wide programme of study and his determination and endurance in the face of adversity to carry on the work to the highest standards.  And for this to be inspirational to future generations.

 

Watch a video about Falcon Scott's visit to the Terra Nova Expedition Hut at Cape Evans

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Author: Jaime at Cape Evans
Date: 18 December 2011
Sunrise: NA
Sunset: NA

 

For both the artefact and building conservators working at Cape Evans, Herbert Ponting’s historic images are  one of the most valuable sources of information we have as to how Scott’s Terra Nova hut was built and used. The incredible quality of those original photographs and the ability to store them digitally, gives us a wonderful on-site resource for the task of restoring the fabric of the hut.

 

Unfortunately for us though, Ponting not did not set out to produce a precise record of the whole hut, its occupants and its environs, but that only makes the job of searching out information even more interesting, as the details we are looking for are usually incidental fragments of a far larger image. This has been the case in recent days for the reinstallation of the stove flue system and the acetylene lighting pipes, all of which hang up in the open roof space of the hut. It is unlikely that Ponting would have ever set up his camera simply to record the interior of the hut roof and yet nearly all the information we need appears somewhere in one of his images. Acetylene lamps float unnoticed over the heads of men lost in the celebration of a mid-winter dinner or stand insignificantly on a table, providing light for Wilson to work on his drawings. In other photographs, flue pipes lurk in darkened roof spaces while Evans bandages Dr Atkinson’s frost bitten hand and outside the hut, a chimney stack rises slightly askew from a distant roof, as a group pose for the camera before setting out on a journey to the Western Mountains.


It is difficult to emphasize not just how important these images are for the work of conserving the hut, but also what a pleasure it is to pore over hugely enlarged areas of a photo and to then finally discover the tiny detail you are searching for.

6

Author: John K
Date: 15 December 2011
Temperature: 0oC
Wind Speed: 1.8 Knots
Temp with wind chill: 0oC
Sunrise: N/A
Sunset N/A


While investigating a box of miscellaneous mechanical components outside the hut I came across this interesting little object, function unknown.


It is a flat sheet metal stylised figurine, 155mmm high and 75mmm wide, one arm outstretched, with one leg only that slides vertically with about 5mm travel. Behind the top of the leg is a punched hole, 6mm diameter. The original outline of the figure appears to be exaggerated front and back, possibly for balance?

 

Image 1. Mystery object, front view.jpg

Mystery object, front view. © AHT / John

 

Image 2. Mystery object, back view.jpg

Mystery object, back view.  © AHT / John

 


At the bottom of the leg are two cleats, possibly to hook over or on to something.

 

Image 3. Mystery object, side view.jpg

Mystery object, side view. © AHT / John


The figure is rusted and no markings or paint layers remain.


What is the function of this intriguing object? I have had suggestions such as: a child’s toy; an indicator that some process is completed, or some mechanical decoration on a clock.


Any suggestions as to its identity and function will be greatly appreciated.

0
Author: John
Date: 13 December 2011
Temperature: -7.2°C
Wind Speed: 5 knots
Temp with wind chill: °C
Sunrise: N/A
Sunset: N/A
Part of the Antarctic Heritage Trust conservation programmme is to conserve artefacts from Scott’s Terra Nova Hut over the winter. Artefacts are carefully packed and transported back to Scott Base where a team of four conservators will work on the artefacts in a specially provided conservation laboratory for return the following summer. Where the early explorers transported their supplies man hauling sledges, we use plastic cubers on sledges towed behind Hagglunds (tracked vehicles). The trip from Cape Evans back to Scott Base  is 25 km, travelling at 10 kph to ensure safe travelling for sometimes fragile artefacts.
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Loading artefacts in cubers on sledge © AHT/John
Transporting artefacts to Scott Base.jpg
Approaching Scott Base over the Sea Ice © AHT/John
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Full circle

Posted by Conservators Dec 22, 2011

Author: Lizzie Meek
Date: 1 December 2011
Temperature: -1.4 oC
Wind Speed: 3 Kts
Temp with wind chill: C
Sunrise: N/A
Sunset N/A


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Cape Evans and snow © AHT/Lizzie

 

During the months of January-October whilst working in the AHT offices in Christchurch, I am often emailed queries and photographs (or as I like to think of them ‘presents’) relating to artefacts the conservators are working on at Scott Base over the winter months. But I still only see a small percentage of the some 1300 artefacts the team has handled during that time.
Now, here we are at Cape Evans in December, it’s snowing outside, and all of a sudden it feels like Christmas: John and I are unwrapping hundreds of objects to return them to their hut locations.


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A woollen jersey returned to Cape Evans this season © AHT/Lizzie

 

You get a very unique and interesting perspective on life in Antarctica 100 years ago when you see about 60 different pairs of socks in a row, some hand knitted, some machine-made, most of them darned or patched. We’ve been commenting on the limited colour palette of brown, grey, khaki, black and dark blue, and get quite excited by small flashes of bright colour. I like to think they took their polka dot Sunday socks home with them on the ship.

 

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A Wolsey sock on Day’s bunk © AHT/Lizzie

 

There’s a great sense of completion as we see objects returned to their place in the hut, with form and detail more fully revealed, but without removing the signs of age and use from the heroic era. So to the winter conservators, Sarah, Martin, Julie and Jane, thank you for your skill and hard work, and for my early Christmas presents!

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Author: John

Date: 13 November 2011
Temperature: -3.20C
Wind Speed: 12.5 Knots
Temp with wind chill: -6.7oC
Sunrise: None, the sun is always up in the sky in Antarctica at this time of the year.
Sunset None.

 

 

While undertaking conservation work at Shackleton’s Nimrod Hut at Cape Royds, Ross Island, Antarctica, I noticed this example of the expedition making do with whatever spare materials that were at hand. It highlighted for me the remoteness of the location, the distance from resupply sources, and the resourcefulness of the expedition members, This makeshift hoe was made from a spare mattock handle with part of a broken shoe last carefully and securely lashed to the end with rope. To tension the lashing a disused metal file was driven under the lashing. For some reason, this resourcefulness appealed to me.

JK Image 1 Improvised hoe.jpg

Improvised hoe © AHT/John.

JK Image 2  Detail of last and lashing method.jpg
Detail of last and lashing method © AHT/John.

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Author: Paula
Date: 15 November 2011

The Antarctic Heritage Trust conservators have recently moved from the confines of their conservation lab at Scott Base, to their Antarctic field camp at Cape Royds.

 

John bid farewell to winter conservator Sarah and welcomed the incoming team of conservation carpenters who work over the summer months on the buildings left behind by the heroic-era explorers.

 

The team is currently working at Ernest Shackleton’s British Antarctic (Nimrod) expedition 1907-1909 at Cape Royds. Communication is patchy when the team is out in the field. Although there is a satellite (sat) phone, the team relies on visitors who do literally ‘just drop in’ by helicopter with supplies and mail and who in turn relay information (including blogs) to Scott Base and New Zealand.

 

Cape Royds 2008 09 Season G Rowe.jpg

Ernest Shackleton's base at Cape Royds.  Credit:  G Rowe

 

The conservation team are completing a few tasks at Cape Royds, including relocating the Arrol Johnston wheel and Mawson’s Dredge which were conserved over winter 2011, before they move on to their main work programme this summer season conserving Captain Scott’s British Antarctic Terra Nova Expedition 1910- 1913 base at Cape Evans.

 

1981.110 Canterbury Museum.jpg


Each summer the team returns the artefacts that have been conserved during winter at the conservation laboratory at Scott Base back to the historic bases before packing up another 1,000 or so objects destined for conservation over the following winter. This continuous cycle of removal-conservation-return has led to over 5,400 artefacts from Cape Evans alone being conserved.

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