Date: 13 February 2013
Wind Speed: 16 knots
Temp with wind chill: -34C
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.
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).
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.