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Polar Bytes 66 - Jan 2013

Polar Bytes 66 - Jan 2013

From the Chairman, Nick Lambert

Dear Friends,

I'm delighted to start the New Year by introducing our new logo, crafted by the imaginative Rolf Williams, who describes the design process in detail below. The Friends can reflect with pride on 2012 - a busy, challenging and enormously successful year for their association and the Scott Polar Research Institute. Readers will be relieved to hear that Celene will not allow me the editorial space to review the Scott Centenary in great detail, but we all know the range of the associated activities from our very stylish dinner in Trinity House in the Spring to the glorious setting of St Paul's and the service of commemoration on 29 March and many other events before, after and in between. Perhaps the most impressive factor has been the coordination of centenary activities through the Antarctica 100 (A100) initiative which brought together so many interested parties into a wonderful sequence of fascinating events that slowly unfolded with the passing months; a series of Antarctic treats for all of us and full marks indeed to Scott 100 coordinator David Wilson for his selfless drive and determination. A heartfelt thank you, too, to so many of our Friends who were involved in those activities.

That same enthusiasm is bubbling up again as the Shackleton Endurance Centenary hoves into view; Philippa Foster Back chaired a very well attended meeting of the A100 Committee at SPRI in November, which considered a similar package of celebratory events, many of which will begin to appear in the Friends' calendar over the next few months. More recently the Friends' AGM witnessed an excellent turnout to hear first-hand the tales and experiences of the dedicated professionals behind the scenes of the BBC's Frozen Planet series. Sadly, Vanessa Berlowitz, the series producer, was struck down by 'flu, so in her stead we were treated to the delightful ruminations of Elizabeth White who enthralled us with some breath-taking photography and a clear appreciation of what it is like to live in a cramped yacht for weeks on end or to dive in sub-zero temperatures (apparently pig fat and garlic are the answer to the latter!). On Committee matters we thanked Gloria Ward and Will Taunton-Burnet for their contribution as committee members over the past few years, and welcomed Angie Butler and Tina Balchin for the next four years. The AGM endorsed the new Friends' logo which we have now adopted in all our branding and publicity material. Angie Butler briefed the AGM on her exciting plans for an Antarctic cruise to mark the Shackleton Centenary which, judging by the numbers registering their interest, clearly stimulated the imagination of the Friends. There is more on this opportunity enclosed with this edition of PB.

It remains for me to thank numerous people for their brilliant support over this very busy year - to Julian, Heather, Kate and the hard working team at the Institute, to Peter Clarkson (thank you for bailing me out yet again during the lecture series!) and the wonderful tea ladies, Angela and Sally, to my fellow Committee members (more of the same enthusiasm next year, please!), to our ever overworked and dedicated Celene and, of course, to our Friends. Thank you to everyone for all that you do and best wishes for 2013.

Elizabeth White

Elizabeth White delivers the Friends' Annual Lecture. (Photo by James Pickard)

From the Institute

A few words from the Director, Professor Julian Dowdeswell:

The Michaelmas Term in Cambridge has brought the academic staff of the Institute a new round of teaching commitments in the University; a privilege given the quality of the undergraduate intake. Our M.Phil. in Polar Studies also continues to attract a strong cohort of applicants, with more students taking the science strand of the course this year. Over the past few years there has been a very encouraging trend towards publication of the research in M.Phil. student theses in international scientific journals, indicating the high calibre of the work.

Doctoral student Craig Stewart and Dr Poul Christoffersen are preparing for a field season on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica, with the aim of measuring the melt rate at the ice-shelf base. At the Institute, the analysis and interpretation of data collected on previous Arctic and Antarctic field programmes continues, along with the interrogation of the vast array of satellite- derived measurements of the changing polar environment. In late November, I was invited to give a talk to MPs in one of the House of Commons meeting rooms on 'ice and environmental change', providing a good opportunity to project the scientific work of the Institute to policy-makers. In late October, we welcomed HRH The Princess Royal to the Institute. The Princess Royal was escorted on a tour of our Polar Museum and also met members of Antarctica 100 over tea. Antarctica 100 is an umbrella organisation whose role is to coordinate all those groups in the UK (and a couple beyond) who are involved in supporting and projecting polar activities.

Philippa Foster Back (former Chair of the Friends) is the chair of Antarctica 100 and of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, with whom we shall be working to organise several events to mark the forthcoming centenary of Shackleton's Endurance expedition.

Many of you, I am sure, will have been helped by Shirley Sawtell at some point over her 24 years working in our polar library. Shirley's unfailing courtesy and helpfulness have been appreciated by all those using the library, from international scholars, through our own staff and students, to the wider public. Shirley has taken early retirement and I am sure all Friends will join me in wishing her well.

Finally, I have learned with sadness of the deaths of two long-time members of the Friends; Sir Rex Hunt and Sir Neil Jephcott. They will both be missed.

The Semiotics of the Friends' Logo

Rolf Williams

The new logo of the Friends of SPRI represents a globe mounted in a half meridian. The globe carries a range of connotations: it is a representation of the planet Earth, a three dimensional model, the result of exploration and research, an interpretation of data, it is a product of science, it offers total perspective but is only as good as the information gathered to make it, it is a tool from which to learn and to plan, it can always be improved, it sits between history and future endeavour. Globes have always carried significant cultural importance, they are social time-pieces. To that end it represents the work of the Institute.

The white parabolas denote the Arctic and Antarctic circles and are depicted to their correct proportional extent.. Colouring these parabolas uniform white in their entirety, rather than mapping the ice-shelves and continent, signifies the area of study with which the Institute is concerned, sea, ice and land.

The equator reinforces the identity of the globe and re-enforces the notion of 'all encompassing', of global significance. The equator is depicted as a ribbon rather than a line. Ribbons have cultural significance as 'gift- wrapping', and connote value and care. The metallic graphical treatment in the logo imparts ribbon-like quality to the band, the reflectiveness connotes polish, a quality of finish, value, pride and professionalism. The reflectivity has parallels with the reflectivity of the polar regions and the choice of turquoise is a metaphor for polar sky and ice.

The grey base-colour of the globe is intentionally neutral to emphasise the text, is shaded to imply the sphere rather than a disc, and is a metaphor for grey seas and skies of the Polar regions; along with the turquoise, the colour palette is strongly polar. By contrast, the deep blue half meridian gives a bold edge to the subdued shades of the logo, strongly defines the North Pole - and thereby implies the South Pole (which is obscured), it leads the eye into the textual component because we read left to right and because it shares the same colour.

The point of view is not intended to represent the 23.5 degree axis, the point of view has been dictated by the space available in which to place the text horizontally between the parabolas.

The font for 'Friends' is a hand-written sans-serif script and connotes a personal touch; that of the Institute is formal – the contrast signifies a distinction between the two, but the 'F' intersects the 'o', signifying a relationship and that relationship cuts through the 'o' at its 'poles'. This is a joke within the logo, turning the letter into a metaphor for the Earth and emphasising the Friends' association with work on a grand scale at both ends of the Earth. The 's' of 'Friends' resembles an arrow in the original font, and this has been aligned with the dot of the 'i' beneath. This relationship denotes an attention to detail at the opposite end of the word and the opposite end of the scale.

The chosen font for 'Friends' is iconic in style and the colour of writing in snow. The dot on that 'i' has a snowflake quality about it. The 'Friends' is flat text in order to read clearly against the neutral background. The Institute name is written with a graphical emboss to give it dominance and a 3D quality in keeping with the implied void of the sphere and equatorial ring in which it sits.

As a point of interest, the two parabolas are identical in shape and size, the shadows of each are identical but rotated 180 degrees to maintain a visual balance in the logo. The sphere is perfect but has been intersected at the top right by the half meridian.

Friends of SPRI logo


The Friends heard with great sadness of the death of Sir Neil Jephcott, who died on 12th August 2012. Sir Neil was a son of the founder of the Jephcott Charitable Trust, Sir Harry Jephcott. He was appointed a Trustee and then Chairman of the Trust in 1989 and remained as Chairman until 1999. He was instrumental in reorganising the Trust and establishing the objective of making grants to organisations requiring start-up funds. His wisdom, generosity and guidance will be missed by his many friends and we extend our condolences to his family.

The Friends' Shackleton Centenary Voyage

Angie Butler

It is an honour to be donning another hat – that is, newly elected committee member. I will be working closely with the committee planning the 18-day Shackleton centenary voyage, 20 November 2014. Ice Tracks Expeditions is a tailor made company I co-run with Patagonia based Carolina Mantella who has made over a 100 voyages to Antarctica. We are in our 4th flourishing year of business, working hand in hand with the superb ship operator, One Ocean Expeditions, who have more than 20 years experience in polar waters. With the highest staff to passenger ratio in the business, lectures, hiking, kayaking, photography or simply looking for quiet moments are there for the taking. (For the more adventurous, sauna, hot tub, plunge pool and massage are also on offer!).

Working closely with the committee, we are planning a unique voyage, keeping the ITAE furthermost in our minds. Briefly, we will set sail from Ushuaia on the southern tip of Argentina, our first stop by popular demand, the Falkland Islands, before sailing south east to South Georgia and the whaling station of Grytviken. Besides visiting the rookeries of hundreds of thousands of King penguins, weather permitting, we will embark on 'Shackleton's walk' to Stromness. Having recently returned from an 18- day voyage and blessed with good weather, a large group completed the four hour walk, their snowshoes remaining in their backpacks!

Besides gathering in the whaler's cemetery in Grytviken and drinking the traditional toast to Shackleton and his right hand man, Frank Wild, whose ashes were interred last year, special events are brewing both on land and on board! From here we travel to the South Shetland Islands with Elephant Island paramount in our quest to grasp the very essence of Shackleton's journey. On my recent voyage, in spite of our state of the art zodiacs, a large swell forbade us to land on Elephant Island, albeit we had much better weather conditions than Shackleton! However we spent several hours surveying the island.

As we sail south, nudging our way to the Antarctic Peninsula we will be met by glorious icescapes accompanied by swooping birdlife making land fall as often as possible on the Antarctic continent itself. Soon it will be time to head north and into the Drake Passage, but if my last voyage is anything to go by we shall not be alone, we were escorted by a pod of Fin whales!

More information on the Friends' Shackleton centenary voyage will unfold in the forthcoming months.

For any enquiries, brochures, contact:
Tel no: 01926 641938
mobile: 07831847129 (UK)
Skype: caro.mantella

Our website is bursting with information:
Ice Tracks

Friends' Artist in Residence

The Friends Committee is delighted to announce that Emma Stibbon has been selected as the Friends' Artist in Residence. Emma will travel south with the Royal Navy on board HMS PROTECTOR in February/March 2013 for a 3-4 week placement during the Antarctic summer season. We are most grateful to Bonhams, and in particular their Chairman Robert Brooks, for full sponsorship of the programme.

Emma writes, 'I am privileged to have been chosen as the Antarctica Artist Placement for 2013 by the Friends of SPRI and HMS Protector, sponsored by Bonhams. I have long been fascinated by Antarctica; it is a remarkable landscape unlike anywhere else on the planet. As an artist working from remote landscape it is extremely difficult to gain five weeks access to such a place. During my placement I plan to gather inspiration through drawing from observation, and photography, which I will develop back in my studio into large-scale drawings and prints. I aim to suggest a sense of the strength, resilience and yet ultimate fragility of this last wilderness. Recording has always been an important part of Polar Science; most pre- photography expeditions would have included an artist. I am interested in what role the artist can play on a contemporary voyage. In addition to my field trip I am looking forward to researching the collections at SPRI and presenting my work in an exhibition there in 2015.'

Emma Stibbon studied Fine Art BA Hons at Goldsmiths, London and Research Fine Art MA at the University of the West of England, Bristol, she is Senior Lecturer Fine Art Printmaking at the University of Brighton. Recent solo exhibitions include the Stadtmuseum, Berlin, upstairs berlin, Rabley Drawing Centre and ROOM, London. Other projects include the Stiftung Federkiel residency at the Spinnerei, Leipzig, the 4th International Gyumri Biennale, Armenia and a recent Derek Hill scholarship residency at the British School at Rome. Her work is held in private and public collections including the Stadtmuseum, Berlin, Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Emma Stibbon

News from the Heritage collections

From the Museum Development Coordinator, Kay Smith

The end of this centenary year is a good time to take stock since we re-opened two and a half years ago. We have come a long way. The Institute's Archives are now housed in purpose built, state-of-the-art storage units with full air conditioning. The museum reserve collections have a new home with specially built racks and properly maintained environmental conditions. However, it is the museum itself that has changed the most. We were nominated for both the ArtFund Prize for Museum of the Year as well as European Museum of the Year. Our wonderful front-of-house volunteer team are constantly praised for their welcoming and positive attitude.

But it is not just our public face that has changed. Behind the scenes we are a completely different place. We now have a staffof five professionals including Heather, Keeper of Collections - Conservator, Documentation Assistant, Education and Outreach Officer, Exhibition Researcher and myself.

Among many other projects and initiatives, we have put on nine major temporary exhibitions, from the Antarctic pictures of Sidney Nolan to These Rough Notes marking the centenary of the achievement of the Pole. We have collaborated with many other organisations and have a thriving loans service sending objects to the USA, Norway, Italy and Ireland. Our conservators are busy ensuring that our collections are maintained and looked after to the highest standards for future generations. We also have a publications programme and have published 5 books in the last two years. We have done a lot and are proud ofwhat we have achieved – we have taken a collection with a display and turned it into a thriving, proactive, outward looking Museum.

'Exploring histories' research project

An update from Claire Warrior

Further to my plea in Polar Byes 63 (April 2012), I just wanted to say thank you to all those descendants who have helped me with my research project to date. I am very grateful to everyone who has generously given me their time and talked to or corresponded with me about their family histories. I have met some fascinating people, whose thoughtful comments have made me think carefully about how family histories and memories are transmitted, about the importance of these histories to individuals and in a wider sense, and about the significance of place and commemoration. It has been a pleasure to undertake this part of my research, and this is in no small measure due to all of your kindness and willingness to share your family histories and personal reflections with me. I will keep in touch!

Should there be anyone out there that I haven't yet managed to contact but who would be willing to participate in my research, I'd still be delighted to hear from you. The process involves a brief interview at your convenience, in which I will ask you some questions about what you know about your family history and what it means to you. I can be contacted via e-mail [].


We thank 'One Ocean Expeditions' for their generous sponsorship of this edition of PB. One Ocean Expeditions are the ship operators for the Friends' Shackleton Centenary Voyage.

One Ocean Expeditions Logo

Edited by Heather Lane & Celene Pickard