University of Tasmania

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The imaging of Antarctica : artistic visions in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic since the eighteenth century

posted on 2023-05-27, 00:27 authored by Andrews, L
The aim of this thesis has been to explore and discover, expose and evaluate, the growing body of art created in the Antarctic region. The art of Antarctica is considered in three chronological chapters:- 'To the Edge', 'Light and Darkness' and 'Diffusion and Diversity'. An 'Introduction' provides a critical appraisal of the extant literature on the visual arts of the region. 'To the Edge' examines the art created in the period up until the end of the nineteenth century; 'Light and Darkness' investigates the art of the Heroic Era when the Antarctic continent was gradually colonised; and 'Diffusion and Diversity' considers the work of artists (principally Australian artists) who have visited Antarctica since the Second World War. The thesis argues that, although a significant body of visual art has now been produced, there is not one central dominant theoretical thread. Various underlying influences, however, such as those of geo-politics, science, fact and fantasy, and the use of the camera, are discussed throughout the thesis. Furthermore, because of the isolation of Antarctica, and the limited opportunity to travel there, the resulting art is individual and extraordinarily diverse. In light of this, it was determined that the research would focus on two important aims. First, the thesis provides a historical account of the visual arts created in the Antarctic region with particular emphasis on the art produced on voyages of exploration and supply by British and Australian expeditions. Outstanding early work of other countries is briefly mentioned, with particular reference to the images of the Dumont d'Urville expedition. Second, because much of the art is so little known, the critical investigation has employed descriptive analysis as its primary methodological tool. There is a particular reason for this: the visual arts of Antarctica have almost invariably been employed to support the scientific work completed in the region whereas this thesis has sought to highlight the achievements and the valuable contribution of artists to the documentation and imagining of the continent. The work of early scientific illustrators reveals a blend of information and poetry. Images of the Heroic Era reflect excitement in the exploitation of the relatively new medium of photography, and their pictures indicate the thrill of adventure, and a sense of achievement in exploration and scientific research. Twentieth century artists demonstrate a stimulating, interpretive diversity of styles and concepts - all of which call for a greater recognition of Antarctic art both as an independent genre, and as an important, integral part of Antarctic culture. The artistic focus has been on two-dimensional art: drawing, painting, printmaking and photography. In interviews with the author, eight contemporary artists present wide-ranging individual responses to the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic. The research included field trips to the United Kingdom, France and to the area of the Ross Sea and the South Magnetic Pole in Antarctica, as well as to various research institutes and libraries around Australia.


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Copyright 2002 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). No photocopying permitted until 1 July 2004. Thesis (MFA)--University of Tasmania, 2002. Includes bibliographical references Vol. 2 is wholly interview transcripts and cannot be made available.

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