Beyond the horizon lies Antarctica

I’m still working on the final edits of ‘Sketchbook Sailor’, but we’re nearly there. Writing a book is like being pregnant – months of gently growing, then an intense and rather messy bit at the end. Anyway, I think I remember saying at the time that my ocean sailing trip was to be my last big adventure. It would get all the sea-longing out of my system, tick several things off the bucket list, and when it was over I would be content to stay close to home pottering on my little river until my joints get too creaky to clamber into a dinghy.

Social distancing, River Deben style

Wrong. Oceans are addictive and you never get to see what’s beyond the horizon, because your horizon moves with you.

When rounding the southern tip of South America on Boxing day last year, a strong northerly wind drove us south for a day or so. It was cold, wild and beautiful. Beyond that elusive horizon lay Antarctica. Later, ashore in the Falklands I watched Tecla sailing out of Port Stanley harbour bound for South Georgia and wished I was going with her. But let’s be sensible here – it’s a big planet and I’m lucky to have done so much. This pandemic year has made me appreciate the beauty of my home surroundings. I’ve spent my bucket list fund and this is not the time to be making travel plans.

On the other hand, it’s never a bad idea to rattle a door handle to see if it opens. Artist Shelley Perkins, a fellow Art Safari tutor, happened to mention that applications were closing soon for the post of Artist in Residence in Antarctica, an opportunity provided by the Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute I’d seen some of Shelley’s wonderful sketches of her residency there a few years ago but thought no more of it then. After all, art residencies are for Artists, aren’t they? Not people like me.

But my ocean sketchbooks must have given me a spark of confidence. With a week to go before applications closed I put my proposal together, illustrated it with a penguin or two from last year’s sketchbooks, and sent it in. To my surprise, I got the post. I’m off to Antarctica in 2021, spending a month or so as a guest of the Royal Navy on board HMS Protector. Where we go and what I’ll see I have no idea, but I intend to make the most of every experience. I don’t yet have departure dates but will buy some new sketchbooks and dig out my Cape Horn thermal layers. I didn’t think I’d need them again so soon! Shall I travel without a camera this time? Let me know what you think!

How fresh was every sight and sound/ On open main or winding shore / We knew the merry world was round/ And we might sail for evermore (Tennyson)


Meanwhile, it’s a tricky month for all creatives who depend on pre-Christmas sales to get through the winter months. I was going to have my usual November open studio, with limited numbers – and of course now I’m not. If lockdown restrictions ease in December, I’ll quickly set some dates and hope to welcome a few socially distanced visitors. It would be lovely to see real people! Online sales are reasonably busy at the moment which is good and I’m getting the hang of dashing to the post office when it’s quiet. At this time of year there is also the popular ‘Salty Dogs’ pop up shop in Maldon, run by photographer Den Phillips and stuffed full of unusual and gorgeous maritime art and crafts. The shop is being set up as usual and I’ve taken some of my goodies down there, but they can’t open yet. They’ll be posting videos and pics online to show everyone what’s on display and you can collect by appointment. Hopefully their doors will be properly open in December

If you’re local to Woodbridge and want to pop in to my studio to pick up some shopping, get in touch. I can’t be open as usual but you can collect orders by appointment which means you’ll be the only visitors, and for the next few months at least I’m happily going nowhere!

29 thoughts on “Beyond the horizon lies Antarctica”

  1. Frances Watts says:

    Wow! Fabulous adventures to come! What a brave girl you are. (I didn’t think you’d be content to stay at home.)

  2. Meryl Kelsey Masters says:

    Woohoo, fabulous adventure.

  3. Susan Robinson says:

    Oh Claudia I am so pleased for you a wonderful opportunity to experience an adventure of a lifetime.

  4. Kathleen and Peter Everson says:

    Good for you and nice that your talent has been recognised for the post. We shall miss you at music sessions (if we are ever allowed to restart them) but we will look forward to seeing the sketches when you return.

  5. Charles says:

    Antarctica. I always knew something lay in the far distance and you deserve each other. But no camera. In many years writing and learning about the discoveries and the whaling sealing connections the Continent has seeped into my bones; photos I have, the impressions through eyes like yours will be better. Only one question. Have you warned the RN who is coming their way? Bless you

  6. Beverley says:

    Hey, Claudia, congratulations!!! Look forward to seeing and hearing all about it – and I agree, let others do the photos, your sketches are special 🙂

  7. Ally Barton says:

    Wow, fantastic news for you and for your vest.
    Being a non-artist, I vote for the camera – what if something occurs when you don’t have time to sketch?
    Looking forward to reading all about it. x

  8. Cathy says:

    Congratulations! Definitely take a camera!

  9. Barry Goudbourne says:

    Wow, what an adventure. Take your camera, phone, for that quick shot, paint afterwards.

  10. Andie says:

    Just….WOW!!!! What a fantastic opportunity – let the countdown begin!

  11. BRENDA Hale says:

    Congratulations Claudia. Delighted your application for Artist in Residence in Antarctica was accepted. You deserve it. I admire your work and achievements. Well done!

  12. Annie Rogers says:

    Dave and I thrilled for you. Enjoy and take your camera!

  13. Fi says:

    Wow, wow, wow! I am so pleased for you Claudia, you will have amazing time with HMS PROTECTOR, I am very jealous! I think it will be more comfortable than your last trip to southern ocean!!! Well done you Fi xx

  14. Ian Clarke says:

    Brilliant – well done. I would suggest you take a camera. Better to have one and not use it rather than not have one and wish you had one with you. x

  15. Peter Willis says:

    Well done you! Sureyou’ll have a magical time – and do take a camera. A month isn’t very long so you need to store images and memories – but with some sense of discipline. “Artist’ in residence remember!

  16. Viv Head says:

    Fabulous Claudia, what an opportunity grabbed out of the blue! Of course you must take a camera, so many breathtaking vistas, so much spontaneous opportunity. Delighted for you! (HMS Protector sounds a better option than a Shrimper anyway.) x

  17. Ruth Redgrave says:

    That’s fabulous!!what an opportunity!

  18. Jan Brodie says:

    Absolutely fab! What an adventure to look forward to. Well done x

  19. Nick Ward says:

    Well well Claud, I am so happy for you.
    Really excellent news. Good call.
    And we both know, don’t we, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone.
    Good on you. N x

  20. Carole Baker says:

    Wow! Well done Claudia! What a wonderful adventure, will look forward to your news and sketches from Antarctica. On another note, Our friend who moved to Kent from Felixstowe loved her two pictures so thank you for sorting those recently. And I adore my cosy neck snood. Will be back for Les Christmas goodies,

  21. Else Wagemakers says:

    Super!! What a great new adventure, well done!

  22. Karen Wharton says:

    How amazing! Almost lost for words. I used to visit the Scott Polar Institute in Cambridge and was in love with Antarctica for ages. I can hardly imagine anything more exciting!! WELL DONE!!

  23. Malcolm Myatt says:

    What a wonderful opportunity. Savour it, enjoy, take photographs and on your return you can then paint them all. Good luck and Bon voyage.

  24. Have a great experience, not only in Antarctica, but all the possibilities of the South Sandwich islands and anywhere else our Royal Navy takes you! Looking back, my adventures on HMS Endurance 1988/9 were some of the best of my naval career. I’m sure you will take every opportunity!

  25. Rob Stanton says:

    How exciting, …huge congratulations !
    Be sure to take plenty of white paint !
    Hope to see you before Xmas.

  26. Viv Mullett says:

    Oh, well done, Claudia! I know you will use every ounce of your being to make the journey a success. You are so intrepid, in all you do. xxx

  27. Christine Bull says:

    What a wonderful opportunity Claudia. Do take a camera especially if it has a zoom lense!

  28. Morgan says:

    Look forward to seeing your amazing work from Antarctica! What an opportunity.

    My friend Danielle Eubanks visited Antarctica from Chile last year this time of year and concluded her 5 Oceans Expeditions project you might find interesting!!
    Enjoy!! Love following all my expeditionary artist friends sailing the seven seas!! Good on you girl!!

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