“During my residency, my time at the British Antarctic Survey base at Rothera was my most productive. The Royal Navy was tasked with pumping fuel for the forthcoming winter and to assist with survey work for improvements to the harbour area. This warranted an extended stay for HMS Protector and crew and I spent three full days on land at Rothera making the most of the landscape and its wild residents. In particular I enjoyed very close proximity to Antarctic Fur Seals, Antarctic (Blue-eyed) Shags, Adelie Penguins and especially the charismatic Southern Elephant Seals that were loafing around the buildings. These made great models as they were used to people walking around and were keen to exploit the relative shelter afforded by the buildings.
Studying Elephant Seals close up might not be to everyone’s liking as the experience was a full-on sensory overload. Breaking wind, belching and roaring, they sounded like orcs having an altercation at a steam engine rally. The aromas were rich and pungent and luckily I didn’t paint with scratch-n-sniff materials.
The landscape was equally as breath-taking and was irresistible to an artist with paint. After several days on the move aboard Protector, this was the first time I could sit and paint giant icebergs directly with no fear of the perspective or background moving.”
Award-winning artist and Speyside Wildlife guide Darren Rees received the coveted ‘Artist in Residency’ honour from the Friends of The Scott Polar Research Institute in 2015, so he travelled with the Royal Navy on HMS Protector from the Falkland Islands to the Antarctic Peninsula. His new book Ice Bound documents his journey with a collection of sketches, watercolours and acrylic paintings executed in situ.
Darren’s new exhibition is at the Polar Museum, Cambridge from 18 January to 25 February 2017. Over seventy of the original artworks and small sketchbooks from Ice Bound, showing more of his methods, encounters and experiences in the far south are on show. (All artworks are for sale.)
Ice Bound: In the Antarctic with artist Darren Rees
18 January to 25 February 2017