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Antarctic conservation

1 Post tagged with the hurley tag

A Game of Chess

Posted by Conservators Mar 28, 2012

Author: Stefan
Date: 28  March 2012
Temperature: -13C
Wind Speed: 5kts
Temp with wind chill: -15C
Sunrise: 8:39am
Sunset 7;15pm


The White Knight is talking backwards, and the Red Queen is off her head


The night watchmen, having a game of chess. Frank Hurley and Leonard Hussey (Shackleton Expedition) 1915

With such a diverse set of personalities here on base people have very particular ways of relaxing and trying to form a distinction between work and private time.

Chess is a massive passion of mine, and its ability to open up an ever changing arrangement of problems is something I hold to be special as the winter draws on. Indeed, this desire to create mental scenarios which are not based on reality, is of great importance when sustaining what is rather an abstract existence down here. I often find that people who have the ability to take you on a journey in your mind, is of great relief, as the possibility of that physical voyage is often impossible off base.


DSC02099 crop rs.jpg

Cape Evans chess board (Inspected by Stefan & George) AHT Stef

With this in mind I was overjoyed to realise Cape Evans Hut’s chess board was in this years collection to be conserved, (and my team mates were good enough to let me be the one to work on it). It’s not often you get to conserve an object which has had not only physical interaction but also such thought and mental tension soaked into each black and white square of its fabric.

Depending on which way you look at it, I’m very lucky this season in having George with me, who was somewhat of a chess child protégé in the 1980s. Rumours suggest chess became quite heated upon the old (now empty) Russian base, let’s hope George and I can keep our castles cool.