A year ago I was lucky enough to be appointed Artist in Residence by the Friends of Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge. Since then of course there’s been covid and the ship was having a refit so there was no opportunity to get down to the Antarctic last season. I was happy to wait; after all, the anticipation of travel is a pleasurable part of the experience and it’s given me time to read books, talk to other polar artists, mull over some ideas. Now, as winter approaches at home, down in the southern hemisphere the days are lengthening and HMS Protector is in the South Atlantic on her way to the Falklands where I’ll join her later this month.

I only had time for a flying visit to the wonderful Polar Museum at the Scott Polar Research Institute, but it fired the imagination – I’ll be back for more sketching there next year.

My journey begins with a train to York on Monday, as I have to quarantine for 8 days at an RAF base before flying out to the Falklands from Brize Norton. Much as I love travel and adventure, I get in a flat spin over packing so you won’t get much sense out of me this week as I juggle open studios with last minute preparations and lists of ‘things to take to Antarctica’ as well as ‘things to do whilst in quarantine’. When I finally go south, I’ll be in contact only occasionally when wifi permits so the full story with sketchbooks will wait until I’m back in January.

Nothing in my suitcase yet apart from sketchbooks, merino long johns, some socks and a map of Antarctica. Well, it’s a start!

What shall I draw?

I have a question for you all – what would you like to see in my Antarctic sketchbooks? (apart from penguins, of course!) What would you focus on if you were there? What would you like me to find out, to record? I’ll be trying to draw the wildlife, of course, and the sea and ice, but I’m also interested in maps and charts, the history of exploration and discovery, and the importance of the polar regions for meteorology and science, which is more critical than ever. Whatever happens, I won’t be short of material! But I would like to have your thoughts and questions too.

I never dreamed that I would spend a second Christmas in the Southern Ocean! This pic was from my voyage on ‘Tecla’, 2019

Whilst I’m away….

I have friends and helpers looking after home and studio whilst I’m away, so my online shop will be open but with a slightly limited range. If you’re able to order this week before I go, please do! (I have year planners – let’s make plans!)

Finally, a grovelling apology for all my friends and family who will yet again receive no Christmas cards or gifts from me…. but you must admit, it’s a good excuse. I’ll be thinking of you!

10 thoughts on “Southbound”

  1. Sarah Pugh says:

    Have a great time Claudia and let’s do some courses in 2023 when you’re home. I have 3 students waiting already! I’d be interested in the stars.

  2. Marion says:

    Was going to say, pack tea bags but as you’ll be resident on a British ship …. and and I don’t know if you even drink tea.
    As for what I’d like to see, a sense of the space and light I think. Just ‘what it’s like’ because I’m not really expecting to see it myself, I may have told you before that I shared some of your work with a friend who is an ace photographer and who went to the Falklands. She said you really summed up the atmosphere …. so, go, go go! See you next year!

  3. Bruce says:

    I remember walking through some of the old buildings and houses at Husvik Bay when I visited in 1990, and being fascinated by the way they had been abandoned, it seemed, just after lunch, and before dinner. It was as if someone had said ‘let’s go, now’ and so they had gone without packing. It was eerie, and as if people might walk back in any day now. I wonder what the buildings are like now?

  4. Sandra SMITH says:

    Hi, was hoping to mention this in person, but your trip has crept up on me. Please when you get home will you come to my U3A art group and give us a talk (with sketchbook natch!) Have an amazing time!!

  5. Lesley Walker says:

    I know you will have an extraordinary adventure & I am looking forward to seeing the results & hopefully hearing all about it from you when next we meet. What would I like to see? A sense of place, the wildness & the creatures that live so much in harmony with the landscape. I fear we are the greatest threat to that harmony so I don’t expect reassurance. Maps & charts & albatrosses & the ocean in all its extraordinary moods & colours. Not a big ask! Travel well & inspire us!

  6. Colin George says:

    Some of the old whaling workings, now fortunately defunct could make some good sketching I imagine. Historical too. Have a great trip.

  7. CaptSuz says:

    You’re my third artist-friend to go on expedition to Antarctica in recent years. Always intrigued by the color of the water, icebergs and the light’s reflective ambiance in the cold air~

  8. Beverley says:

    Like Bruce and Colin, I’d be interested in the historical remains, maybe comparing old photos/sketches with some you can do this winter. I’d also love to see annotated maps and charts with illustration showing the colours and light of Antarctica. As COP26 ends this week, something to show the effects of climate change on the ice/environment/wildlife would be wonderful . . . really looking forward to seeing your sketchbooks when you return . . . have a great trip 🙂

  9. Jan Petersen says:

    What would I like to know/see? I have recently become interested, through my new venture into nature journaling, in fungi. Would be interesting to know if they survive in Antarctica and if so what they might look like. Will enjoy looking at all your sketches when you return.

  10. Alice Allen says:

    Oh wow!! Tip…buy some Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream at duty free!! Amazing salve that treats everything, esp chapped lips, small cuts, burns etc!!

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