Through the Australian Antarctic Division’s Arts Fellowship Program, photographer Stephen Eastaugh and his wife Carolina Furque were able to photograph the melancholic landscapes of both the North and South Poles. Here, we speak to them about their project.
- By Vasachol Quadri
- | Oct 13, 2011
How did you end up joining this program?
Stephen: This Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship has been around for about 20 years and people who work in various humanities fields may apply for a trip. Writers, photographers, film-makers, artists, musicians and even dancers can all apply for a trip down far south as long as there is some extra space on one of the ships or planes. I have made three separate trips under this program.
What is the subject matter of your exhibition?
Stephen: The exhibition is inspired by the strange landscapes or ice-scapes of Greenland and the otherworldly night sky-scapes of Antarctica. This exhibition is only one of many I have had which displays the work I’ve made down in Antarctica. This show is a bit different as my partner Carolina had a body of photographic works created in Northwest Greenland, and I had a small series of Aurora photographs from Antarctica which I wanted to exhibit so the joining of the two seemed a good plan.
What did you see?
Stephen: Antarctica and the Arctic are very different places. The Arctic is mostly frozen sea surrounded by three continents with a considerable population. Antarctica is a massive continent covered by ice and surrounded by ocean. The ice is three kilometers thick in some places and there have never been any humans living there. Now there are about 50 tiny scientific stations there but it is no one’s home. Life is tricky in both polar regions but far more so in Antarctica due to the more severe weather and the logistics to keep people alive there. There’s also the isolation factor for those that spend a winter down there.
Tell us a bit about the Auroras photos.
Stephen: I used a basic Sony Cybershot camera to capture the images, then made digital prints on textured high quality paper. They are landscape/night-scape images that reflect the experience I had of being in East Antarctica that long cold dark winter of 2009. These Aurora Australis images can symbolize the mesmerizing beauty of this phenomenon which belittles us and gives life to the word sublime.
And for the North Pole?
Carolina: I haven’t been to the South Pole; Argentina just recently started a project to involve artists with Antarctica. Maybe one day I will go. I had a small taste of polar regions in Greenland and it feels very different from where I live. First of all, getting there involves a few planes. Upernavik is a small isolated island, only 1,200 inhabitants and 11 settlements. Rocks, snow, ice make up the island. Long dark winters and bright summers. We went there in May 2010, and it was 24 hours of sunlight, never night. The sun just went down near the horizon for a few hours and then came up again. I used the Holga to capture this as it’s a very good friend to travel with: it doesn’t weigh much, is easy to operate, it is not afraid of the cold and quite unbreakable. I also like all the unexpected mistakes that happen due to its clumsy construction.
What we’ll see in this exhibition?
Stephen: Whatever the viewers gleans or gets from seeing our work depends on the individual. This can range from boredom to extreme inspiration. If these works remind people that the world is large, beautiful, fragile and mysterious and that humans are rather insignificant I think we would be quite happy with that.