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'Creative nexus'

'Creative nexus'

The Polar Muse Project :
a Case Study of Artists in Museums

Dr Catherine Morris

"Solitary enzyme. / Though the night yield no glimmer there will glow, / At the heart of the ridiculous, the sublime."

- Antarctica by Derek Mahon –

"The most touched glass case in The Polar Museum is this one."[1] I look through the thousands of washed-away fingerprints at a black flag marking the spot where someone got there first; Scott and 'his men' looking out at the us of future time, wishing they'd had a different story to tell. Beneath, at the darkness of ground level, Captain Oates' sleeping bag:

"He leaves them reading and begins to climb, / Goading his ghost into the howling snow; / He is just going outside and may be some time."[2]

Visitors lean in (touching glass) as they point at what they have just discovered: the end of the 'heroic age'. The fingerprints on the glass that disappear each morning are the coded secret knowledge of the one person who has eyes for them; the one who wipes them away. Another set of prints on the glass display cases, however, remain for all to see: words by eight poets commissioned to respond to the material and research documenting Polar exploration. We read through stanzas the relics of frozen landscapes and disappeared journeys; hear the voices of early nineteenth century Inuit women; read diaries by fictional granddaughters living out Canadian winters haunted by polar explorers – ancestors long dead. The poetry is an interspace etched onto the panes of the Museum's display cases; a friction in the conversation between research and curation.

This exhibition project is deeply informed by Heather Lane's unique curatorial practice as both Keeper of The Polar Museum and Librarian of the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI). The project is about the poetics of curation and asks questions of artists, institutions and the public: what do we mean when we talk about curation? How does poetry influence the way we might write about objects? What can poetry do that a museum in a research centre cannot? Rod Mengham suggests that an artist can "evoke the feel of the Arctic and the Antarctic space and time".[3] Even in relation to some objects, the museum cannot display three dimensional shape as Mengham discovered: "It's whole purpose was to be balloon-shaped, to be in the air, to be floating off over a frozen continent, to become a dot in the distance, to be finally lost to view; not lying asleep in a small glass case in a centrally heated museum. The job of the poem was to inflate the balloon."

Funded by Arts Council England, the project aimed to provide an opportunity for artists and practitioners at SPRI to interact: each writer was supported in their poetic enquiry by SPRI's prolific range of skilled museum practitioners, librarians, students, and researchers. The result is a fascinating dialogue between the craft of writing, the intervention of curating historic artefacts and engagement with contemporary scientific research. Rod Mengham described the impact of encounter: "Getting to immerse yourself in a place involves working with people. People who are at the front of the whole project but also librarians etc. The physical feel of the whole place – it is such an entirely specific place – and all of that works on you and has an effect on the poem."

At a public 'In Conversation' event, Heather Lane defined what the project meant from the perspective of SPRI and its embedded Polar Museum. The Polar Muse was an attempt, she argued, to celebrate the importance of poetry and through art fulfill another aspect of the Institute's mission to facilitate greater access, increase understanding and create new forms of engagement with research, archives and collections:

"We want to have more dialogue between the audience and the object and poetry seems to me a fantastic mediation tool. The whole idea – in which we captured the poetry and the poets reading – is a legacy to inform what we do in the future. I would hope it would inspire us and others to look at other ways of using artistic response to the material we hold. It is an incredibly powerful way of engaging audiences with objects. It is another tool in a curator's armory. It is something we have to embed in curatorial practice."

The project to develop a new exhibition for The Polar Museum centred on poetry was inspired by Thresholds, which was curated by Carol Ann Duffy and coordinated by Helen Taylor. In 2013, poets took up residencies across the city at the eight university museums, the Botanic Garden and the University Library. The project encompassed publications, readings, schools events and public engagement. In The Guardian on 9 May 2013 Duffy explained the meaning and scope of the Cambridge Thresholds project:

"From the moment this project was born, everyone involved has had to step over a threshold. The poets understood the idea and stepped inside the museums ready to talk and learn and write and blur the artificial boundaries between the arts and sciences. The museums understood and included the poets in the conversation, took them behind the scenes and gave them access to the riches of their collections."

Heather Lane wanted to know what could happen if she invited eight poets to engage together with one Museum, not just to write poetry but to curate their work in response to the collections and to current research. By inviting the poets into the Scott Polar Research Institute, she enabled each one to traverse the Museum's collections through dialogue and interaction with researchers and with the staff of the library, museum and archives. The outcomes of such an ambitious project are a multifaceted legacy that will be of great value to all those interested in the relationship between art and science; curation and research. Each poet wrote essays about their work in progress; these were mounted onto a specially designed 'Polar Muse' website that captures the outcomes for future use by educationalists, visitors, poetry lovers and researchers. The poems are made accessible on the website where you can also hear recordings of the poets reading their work.

Heather Lane worked closely with poet Joseph Minden to set up and run the project: Minden acted as the main point of contact for the poets, facilitating access to the museum, archive and collections stores and making introductions to key researchers. Minden played a critical role in helping the poets to negotiate the vast range of possible references, books and people. Online, each essay that the poets produced was linked wherever possible to the resources that they mention. For instance, photographs can be directly viewed through links to the Institute's web collection of historic polar images: 'Freeze Frame'. Sarah Howe shares her unique experience of and excitement at encountering – actually seeing and touching – Captain Scott's 'lost' negatives as they were brought into the Museum and opened for the first time. The active web links that the Museum staff added to Howe's essay enable the reader to see what the poet saw. This is a powerful learning tool in building the Museum's outreach and increasing public access:

"In the course of my research, I felt especially fortunate to get the chance to see Scott's extraordinary 'lost' photographic negatives. (I should probably say 'handle' rather than 'see', since I found the experience was oddly more tactile than visual.) Recently rediscovered, the negatives were acquired by The Polar Museum earlier this year after a public appeal that saved them for the nation. I was lucky to catch the box of negatives during their brief stay in the museum's main archives, from which they were shortly due to head off for conservation. After being cleaned and scanned, they are destined to join the collection's hundreds of other negatives in The Polar Museum's preserving deep-freeze. This will extend their lifespan by ten times, but also put them beyond the access of casually interested viewers such as myself, making my timing truly serendipitous."

Interdisciplinarity and expertise in collections and archives is a strength of having a museum that has grown out of a research institute: bringing arts practitioners into The Polar Museum is transformative of knowledge, working relationships and dissemination related to research and teaching practice. The poets were not just invited to respond to the Museum's collections that are already on public display, but given unlimited access to the Museum's store and conservation areas; to the library, photographic collections, manuscripts and research centre. This is something that the poets themselves commented on as vital to the poetry that they produced. Redell Olsen noted that this was not just an opportunity to engage with front of house displays: "You invited a deeper look at what you were doing…" she told Lane in the public 'In Conversation' in January 2015. At the same event, Lucy Sheerman described this form of project as an immersive creative residency:

"You come straight into the blood stream… you are allowed to get close up to those objects… and it completely changes the principle of the viewer and the object. Like being given a passport directly into the collections which you would not usually have."

For Andrea Porter the richness of the experience came from being invited to engage with both the museum and the active contemporary research institute from which the collections derive:

"That immersion… [gave] me so much more to write about… it was wonderful being attached to a museum that is attached to an institute which is of such vital scientific importance. The elephant in the room is global warming and our commitment to the planet. It was wonderful to be attached to an organization where that is a priority. For me that was a wonderful gift."

Being part of a research centre and library activated a research journey for the poets who were offered the opportunity to read first-hand accounts of expeditions and engage with the science that underpins them. We find that the poetry is inspired and informed by the research undertaken by the poets. Redell Olsen acknowledged how the vocabulary in her work was drawn from texts she had accessed in SPRI:

"In 'Whiteout Film for Snow-Goggles (Landscapes)' the elements of the poem are arranged in couplets; potentially crystallographic formations of small numbers of words that could be regarded as miniature landscapes; landscapes with a horizon line that separates the 'lower' vocabularies of snow and ice from the 'upper' words used to describe the weather phenomena in the sky. The vocabulary of the poem is drawn from Silas: The Antarctic Diaries and Memoir of Charles. S. Wright (1993) and Field Guide to Snow Crystals by Edward R. La Chapelle (2001)."

Lucy Sheerman and Dr Gareth Rees (physicist and research fellow at SPRI) collaborated to create a new exhibit in which the research documents of one of his current projects can be viewed through Sheerman's poem which was inspired by his work: "Gareth and I devise a writing exercise together that we think can give a sense of the scaling down process." Exploring her emerging responses while in residence at SPRI, Sheerman discovered a connection between her own methodologies as a poet and Rees' intricate research notes:

"I am drawn to the field notebook he shows me. Its minute process of description captures the detail of the author's experience of a precise moment, place, experience. These notes are couched in a mode of scientific detachment and enquiry which has parallels with a poet's notebook…. This is a document of lived experience and it is filled with the distractions shared by my own notebooks…. I'm curious about the links with poetic composition, which similarly negotiates between the minute description of the actual and abstract generations. How might I register this very complex sense of scale in a poem?"

The question that Sheerman asks herself about the act of writing is a journey that some of the other writers explicitly engaged in while resident at The Polar Museum. The essays commissioned from the poets documenting their work-in-progress offer fascinating reading for anyone, especially those engaged with creative writing and curation. Rebecca Watts described her first steps towards writing: "When a poem starts with a feeling I don't like to do too much research before I get some first words down on paper, in case the sentences I read overlay the initial impression or sense of voice I have begun to grasp at." After the project was completed Watts offered advice to others who might similarly wish to write poetry in response to a cultural research centre: "Just go round and look. See what you remember after a week or so. There is so much text in the museum that it can overlay your own reactions."

The exhibition project is all about ways of seeing: this relates to encountering the past through museum objects while viewing those same objects through the words of the poems. For Redell Olsen, Lane's specific remit for the poems to be exhibited on the glass display cases connected in her mind to the object she had chosen: "The invitation of the Polar Institute to write a poem that would be placed on glass between the viewer and the exhibit struck me as an interesting analogy to the working of the Polaroid model." Andrea Porter was very conscious of the impact of how the words would be printed on the exhibition case in front of the objects that she had chosen for display: "The poems are in the physical form of a triptych. I wanted to make the poem have the shape of an altar piece, make it have a sense of both the spiritual and the object… I wanted the observer looking at the objects I have chosen from Parry's second expedition (the small ivory bird, the barrel organ and the ivory comb) to perhaps have a slightly eerie experience."

Absences, mistakes, incorrect information are a recurring theme in the concerns of these eight poets expressed during their engagement with SPRI / The Polar Museum. Ways of viewing gender politics in a heroic narrative conditioned for men was something that several of the poets articulated. Andrea Porter, for instance, increasingly noticed the absence of women as central figures in the exhibitions: "I began to think about these Inuit and in particular the women. The Polar Museum tells the story of male explorers at the Poles; women enter their story tangentially only as mothers, wives or widows of those men that took themselves off to the furthest and coldest areas of the planet."

The exhibition in part is about how artists find ways to document and record misinformation and absences as finally they are identified and understood. Drew Milne recognised an object in the museum's public collection that was not identified with a label: "I was delighted to find a small clump of reindeer lichen on display in The Polar Museum. There is no signage in the museum to explain what this clump is, nor is there any clear provenance for this modest clump, whether it is even from the Arctic, how it came to be in the museum, and so on. And I hope this little clump will remain without signage or caption to name its necessary presence in the museum."

Lucy Hamilton began her research by reading Edward Wilson's Antarctic Notebooks and viewing Herbert Ponting's photographic work that is available on the SPRI website. Hamilton used her first blog to document the process of research and writing. She tells of not being able to sleep – and reference to a 'plaster cast' suggests she has broken a bone. The next day she visits an object made to aid the sleep of another injured human being – Captain Oates' sleeping bag – cut down the centre so that he could more easily get in and out with his frostbitten foot. Despite viewing multiple objects in the museum, Hamilton finds she is not yet inspired to write: "I'm not getting the inner music that signals the stirring of a new poem…" It is only when she sees the letters and diaries that she finds her 'polar muse': ultimately she takes the perspective of a character who is a ninety year old diarist whom she describes as 'an adventurer': "my diarist will turn her attention to the letters and diaries of the Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913."

Her poem "Pictures and Frames" sets the scene as Hamilton introduces the journey of her character's endeavor, which will unfold in three further prose poems:

"The Diarist is writing a century after the Expeditions / She is not / eminent but is resolute, delving deep, excavating through / layers of / memory and silted-up grief. Unlike the men, she has / achieved a / venerable store of years. She is trying to form a greater / picture, framing the / two explorers in parallel as they set off in the same year, / same century. She / wants to shift her obsession to theirs just as Pennel / 'swung' the ship for compass / adjustment – to absorb herself in their joys & trials until / the bitter end, so / her pain becomes theirs…."

In the prose triptych 'Letters and Diaries' that follows this opening poem, the Diarist compares her own modern lists asking a question that is common to all at SPRI: 'where to start, how to sort & sift & record?':

"She will call them Capt. S & Dr. S, she thinks, making a list, wryly noting the absurdity of her (Tesco) inventory alongside theirs as she fixes her stick & bag on the scooter that's like a sledge without huskies, thinking her cleaner will carry in the goods like a Sherpa. She too has a team – daughters & sons & grandchildren, a nurse bandaging the ulcerous leg…"

In the two following entries, Hamilton observes the 'I' of the Diarist coming in and out of the historical letters and diaries kept by Scott, who by the end of March 1912 knew he was close to death. We read, as the Diarist reads, Scott's last letter home to his wife, addressed 'To My Widow': "The boy will be your comfort. I had looked forward to helping you to bring him up but [he] it is a satisfaction to feel that he is safe with you… and the Diarist flicks to his photograph, envisaging the bitten lips, those final moments in the stricken tent with his two surviving companions." In "Glaciers and Robins" the Diarist, facing her own crisis of winter and a small accident on her scooter as it slides down a bank just missing the river, asks: "How did they survive the long winter?" The appearance of a robin in the landscape is like a haunting that takes the Diarist into the depths of Apsley Cherry Garrard's prose notes. The Robin 'arrived like a spirit into her tiny world – so close she could see its black eye. She glances at the image: I hate the way we seem so small in the menacing vastness, pulled down to unspeakable depths."

Sarah Howe's poem "The Instruction of Captain Scott" centres on Scott's film camera manufactured by Staley. In her online essay, "The art of Antarctic photography" Howe records how the object in the museum case was transformed once she knew that it had been used by Scott on the Terra Nova Expedition of 1910 to take "snapshots of daily life" in which the photographs are often as 'over exposed' as the men themselves are to the freezing elements: "You see it differently, this camera, after you read it went with Captain Scott on the ill-fated Terra Nova expedition of 1910-1913. In the expedition's early weeks, its celebrated professional photographer, Herbert Ponting, had schooled Scott in how to coax the best results from these intricate contraptions."

Andrea Porter similarly became aware of how simple objects that she sees in the museum are utterly transformed once connected with the historic era of Antarctic exploration: "The story of Scott and his death at the South Pole is one of those real stories on an epic scale. A pair of mittens, goggles, the harness from a dog sledge are dead objects without that story, which in this case we call history… it is how they sit in the story of Scott's expedition that gives them that intangible power to engage us."

Howe notes that, "Before Scott set off from their main camp for the Pole, the final piece of instruction Ponting offered him was to show his pupil how to release the shutter by means of a long thread, so that all the men who reached that goal could appear in the photograph together." Citing Barthes who saw "in all photographs an intimation of death", Howe views Scott's photographic apparatus that includes a chromatic yellow glass filter 'tinged by deathly associations'. This deathly quality to the object is due not only to the fact that the filter was "recovered in 1912 from the tent in which he and his companions died," but also because of the nostalgic 'honeyed tint' it adds to the stark black and white iconographic through which we collectively 'remember' this fatal expedition: "I found myself wondering… if there was something comforting about its illusory warmth – like a miniature sun – in those dark last days." In her poem Ponting tells Scott: "First / insert the amber / filter: take the groove- / etched rim, like this. / For unless viewed through / a honey jar's warm / this ice strafed moon- / scape will tend / inexorably to blue."

We take pictures so easily now on small digital cameras and phones and that weigh so little and that take seconds to 'set up'. In addition, few of us experience extreme conditions of weather or ever face the choice of taking a picture that might cost our lives. Yet Howe draws our attention to Herbert Ponting's prolific essays that she accessed at SPRI's library in which he recorded just how dangerous it was to document the Antarctic expedition: "On one occasion I was focusing under my cloth when I happened to moisten my lips. The point of my tongue came in contact with the metal and instantly froze there; the shock was so great that I went over backwards, and when I recovered, I found that I had lost the tip of my tongue, which remained frozen to the camera."[4] Rather appropriately, the rare 'lost' negatives that were re-discovered in 2014 and acquired by The Polar Museum are preserved in the 'deep freeze' store. As part of her residency, Howe was given the opportunity to see and handle the negatives as they were being prepared for storage. In her essay, she tells us what she saw:

"Housed in a wooden box with a sickle-shaped metal catch, each one still wrapped in its original greaseproof paper-like sleeve, Scott's negatives are of two types. Some are glass plates… about a palm's width across and a couple of millimetres thick, whose resemblance to thick-set ice must have been even more striking in the Antarctic… Entirely black when laid flat on the desk, the cellulose negatives reveal their ghostly images… The well-padded men set against black snows had the air of astronauts bobbing over lunar rock." Patience is the key to capturing the unimaginable: (I waited …. for shot of penguin). In her poem she gives new voice and syntax to Ponting's later recollections: "Patience, Captain. / The true photographer / will in his very dreams / calculate exposures. / One perfect morning I / waited two whole hours / for a trio of cavorting / penguins to exactly / echo the mountainside / behind."

Whereas Howe and Hamilton focus on Scott's expeditions, Rod Mengham's "Occasional Inuit" looks back to the Victorian approach to solve the mystery of the disappearance of Sir John Franklin in 1848. The museum object that he chose was the "Arctic Fire Balloon: For Distributing Messages in the Arctic Region", explaining:

"The fire balloons were devised after the Franklin expedition went missing, as a means of trying to set up some sort of contact, however indirect, however tenuous, with the missing men. The balloons trailed lengths of twine with hundreds of slips of paper or silk attached; these would bear messages, with information about buried supplies and the whereabouts of rescue parties; the twine would be chemically treated to act as a slow burning fuse that would be ignited before the balloon was launched; once in the air, the twine would burn away, releasing the slips of paper at regular intervals."

Mengham is fascinated by the 'scale of unlikelihood' of these rescue operations, he comments in his online essay on the mechanical ambition of the Victorians seeing the balloon as "evidence of the genius for futility": "The chance of any of these messages fluttering down into the hands of Franklin and his men was almost nil… The poetics of the fire balloons are reversible. On the recto side, it is 'not one word is wasted; on the verso, the terrible waste of its four word ballast: 'Read The Other Side'. / For Years, they tried reading the Other Side. They fired off rockets, the balloons flocked over tundra, from Hudson Bay to Alaska. They dispersed their paper credit. But only occasional Inuit picked up the wind-fed rumours, and forwarded them; passing them round and round, turning them over and over."

While all the poems could be viewed on the display cases during the exhibition, online visitors can hear the poets reading their works through a special Polar Muse website designed especially for the project. An additional initiative to disseminate the project more broadly resulted in another new partnership. In 2014, SPRI worked with Michael Schmidt to publish the poems in a special supplement to PN Review that marked a unique collaboration for the publication as well as for SPRI. In their introductory essay to the collection, Heather Lane and Joseph Minden point out the importance of PN Review in widening access to the project and in sustaining legacy for the works after the exhibition is taken down: "This supplement is a first for both The Polar Museum and PN Review, the record of an innovative project exploring the connections between the writing process, curation and objects in museums… However, the enduring success of the project is in the quality of the works themselves, gathered and presented here, where the voices of their objects will resonate long after the glass at The Polar Museum is clear again." [5]

Michael Schmidt hosted the first gathering of the poets once the commission had been agreed and as well as engaging at every stage in the production of the supplement he followed the project through its multiple outputs: web and physical publication, the launch event (which brought in an audience of over 200) and the 'In Conversation'. In reflecting on the impact and influence of the project, Schmidt viewed one of its main successes to be the 'creative nexus' forged in the city and beyond:

"It is always wonderful when poetry finds new places to appear, especially places in which science and history have conspired together. The Scott project was a particularly well-conceived affair, with the poets chosen not for their originality or youth rather than for their journalistic reputation. The combination of relatively established and new writers was also inspired. And the ekphrastic element is a wonderful challenge. Most of the poets seem, ironically, to have addressed their objects through the text that attached to them, as though it was easier to get a hold on the object via the language that already surrounded it. Rebecca Watts was exceptional in approaching her subjects as material things and making a language which was porous, an interface; she also had a sense of the visual experience intended, where the object was to be viewed through the lens of the poem. It was wonderful to see how poets whose work in progress has a formal integrity finding ways in which made sense in terms of their own ongoing work. Drew and Dell in particular produced work which has a natural place in their wider oeuvre. It was a lovely experiment, forged new friendships among poets and poets and curators, and poets and readers. A creative nexus."[6]

The wider public was engaged in multiple forums throughout the exhibition while the digital legacy ensures that the poetry and learning materials are available in new online resources and via digital access to SPRI's rich collections. In addition to the public workshops, the 'In Conversation' gave members of the public the opportunity to hear the poets read their poetry live and engage in a discussion about the role of artists in museums. Drew Milne concluded the event with some advice for poets thinking of working with cultural institutions:

"Having had bitter experiences of working with other institutions where apparently a poet was wanted but in practice that was the last thing they really wanted… trust the people… I would generally be quite skeptical about the way in which institutions want to shape you according to a pre-existing agenda… that kind of institutional ordering has not been a problem… The possibility that it might be different in the science and poetry than science and the arts. Quite often the arts doesn't include poetry… it's possible there's a deeper interest between science and poetry than is publicly recognized. This might have a difference space in the museum culture… The notion of trying to think about what damage does poetry do to science; what damage does science do to poetry. That's quite an interesting problem and could have resonance in lots of places. Seek out intelligent science museums."

Engaging the public, community groups and school children in the creative writing process in the museum was also a central remit of the Polar Muse. Built into the project's planning was an opportunity for each poet to deliver an on or off site poetry workshop with a group or a school that had not previously visited the Museum. In preparation for these classes the poets collaborated closely with the Education Team at the Museum: objects and a 'hand-out pack' of information were vital for those teachers and groups where financial restrictions made it impossible for them to hire transport to visit the Polar Muse exhibition on site. As Andrea Porter's feedback suggests, the rich variety of resources the poets and education team generated for each workshop were aimed to engage and inspire: "I held a workshop at an adolescent psychiatric unit. I used animations, short films, music and objects plus pictures of Arctic animals and current Inuit art. I also had two or three short poems written by Inuit poets."

While the poetry has now been removed from the glass cases of the Museum's displays, writing poetry in response to the collections and research at SPRI remains an integral part of the visitor experience. Writer in Residence, Kaddy Benyon and Joe Minden designed a 'Poetry Pack' that visitors to the museum can loan free of charge. Recalling how the idea began to take shape, Benyon highlights the excitement of transforming an idea into a real educational resource:

"I think we had our first meeting over half pints of Fireside in the Alma that December and right in the middle of it I grabbed Joe's pen and drew a picture of a satchel (I still have it in my notebook). I think we both knew we'd struck gold at that point and it became very, very exciting. Over the following months, we discussed it on 'poetry walks' every few weeks and wrote the text between us. I think it was last summer that I put the dummy pack together and had a sewing machine lesson… and ordered all the bits for inside… It contains a build your own poem exercise on a worksheet; a dictionary; a thesaurus; some snow goggles [as poets often have an odd perspective] and some poetry first aid cards with definitions/examples of different poems. My hope is that people come to the museum and have some no-pressure fun with the possibility of writing a poem. It may be a few lines, it may be a sequence, but poetry is all about play: playing with language and images. The Poetry Pack is an invitation to play with words in The Polar Museum."[7]

In The Government of The Tongue Seamus Heaney observed: 'Poetry is more a threshold than a path, one constantly departed from, at which readers and writers undergo, in their different ways, the experience of being at the same time summoned and released.'[8] In curating Thresholds across the museums of Cambridge in 2013 Carol Anne Duffy located ten poets at the epicentre of the city's cultural life thus opening up a new world of language and of seeing. In opening the doors of The Polar Museum and the Scott Polar Research Institute to eight poets all at once in 2014, Heather Lane and her colleagues curated an imaginative, hard-working exhibition and project that, as Michael Schmidt suggests, will undoubtedly have a lasting impact: "Other museums, archives and galleries will follow the example of The Polar Museum and invite poetic engagement. It is a way of seeing the objects and documentation afresh, and it is a way of proving the accessibility and excitement to a wider public."[9]

Dr Catherine Morris is a writer and curator. Her latest book, 'Alice Milligan and the Irish Cultural Revival' (Four Courts Press) appeared in paperback in 2014.

[1] Every day at the Scott Polar Research Institute the Museum custodian cleans all the glass cases. Scott's last voyage is the most touched glass,
[2] 'Antarctica' by Derek Mahon in his collection, Antarctica (Gallery Book, 1985).
[3] All the quotations in this essay are taken from the poetry blogs published on the Polar Muse website and from the in Conversation that took place in January 2014.
[4] Wilson Lost Photographs, p 33.
[6] Michael Schmidt, in email communication to the author March 2015.
[7] Private email communication with the author.
[8] Seamus Heaney, The Government of The Tongue (London: Faber & Faber), 1986, p. 108.
[9] Michael Schmidt, in email communication to the author March 2015.