SHACKLETON NEWS ARCHIVE
RUNS AT LIVERPOOL FROM 16 JULY 2010 TO 27 FEBRUARY 2011
Endurance: Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure is the title of a striking exhibition at the Merseyside Maritime Museum, which runs from 16 July 2010 to 27 February 2011. Admission is Free.
The epic story of Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914 Endurance expedition is an incredible real life tale of survival. The exhibition features about 150 compelling photographs of the expedition's ordeal taken by photographer Frank Hurley, who dived into freezing waters to retrieve his glass plate negatives from the sinking Endurance.
The photographs, printed from the original negatives and Hurley's album of prints, are accompanied by gripping memoirs from the voyage. This is the touring exhibition which started, to great acclaim, in 1999 in New York and was attended by Hon. Alexandra Shackleton, Harding Dunnett (founder of the James Caird Society) and Pippa Hare, along with the James Caird itself!
Shackleton first headed south in 1901, accompanying Robert F Scott on an unsuccessful bid for the Pole. Six years later he led his own Nimrod expedition to within approximately 100 miles of his goal, further south than anyone had gone before. Here, taking stock of his party's failing supplies and health, Shackleton made the heartbreaking decision to turn back. In 1911 the race was finally won by Roald Amundsen of Norway.
With the prize of the Pole having been claimed, Shackleton embarked on a new challenge in 1914 - to cross the entire continent on foot, from the Weddell to the Ross Sea. Leaving the island of South Georgia in December, his ship Endurance battled her way through pack ice toward the continent. But while deep in the pack of the Weddell Sea, the ship was trapped and slowly crushed by the ice.
On board the Endurance was a talented Australian photographer named James Francis ('Frank') Hurley. Shackleton had partly financed the expedition through advance sales of photographic, film and story rights. This was to be Hurley's second trip to Antarctica, as he had previously documented an expedition led by the Australian explorer Douglas Mawson. The 1913 film that Hurley made about Mawson's journey had drawn him to Shackleton's attention.
By his shipmates, Hurley was considered "hard as nails", able to endure harsh conditions and willing to go to any length to obtain a shot. After the Endurance was abandoned, Hurley dove into the icy water to retrieve sealed canisters containing his glass plate photographic negatives. Relaxing his rule that only two pounds of gear be allowed for each man, Shackleton allowed Hurley to save his best images.
Together, Shackleton and Hurley selected 120 negatives, destroying approximately 400 so that Hurley would not be tempted to retrieve them again. The chosen negatives survived ice, open seas and burial under the snow of a desolate island.
The photographs in this exhibition were made from Frank Hurley's glass plate negatives, film negatives and an album of prints he made while still aboard the Endurance.
Shackleton and his men became castaways in one of the most hostile environments on earth. The expedition was a failure - yet the unimaginable saga of survival that followed ensured that it was for this, the failed Endurance expedition, that Shackleton is ultimately remembered.