The Getty Images Gallery will feature the work of Herbert Ponting in their latest exhibition “The Journey South”. The exhibition marks the centenary of Scott’s epic voyage to the South Pole and is organised in association with the Scott Polar Research institute. Ponting accompanied the expedition as a photographer.
Herbert Ponting’s beautiful and graphic photographs record the conditions faced by Robert Falcon Scott’s team of men before their final push to the pole and before tragedy ultimately struck in 1912. Ponting also captured the stark beauty of Antarctica 100 years ago, in a series of landscape shots which remain iconic and timeless to this day. The collection provides a stirring testament to the heroism and bravery of all involved and perfectly encapsulates the spirit of adventure and discovery that marked the epic journey. The glass plate negatives from which these images are taken are preserved in the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge. This part of the collection is represented by Getty Images.
Herbert Ponting was a self-taught photographer who spent time travelling through the Far East, photographing people and places, before joining the crew of the Terra Nova on their journey south. He recorded the difficult living conditions under which the expedition members and their animals lived and worked.
Among the incredible collection of images is a photograph entitled “The Tenements”, showing the cramped bunks in Winterquarters Hut, which made up the living conditions of the team. Another image shows Evans and Crean sitting in front of shelves stacked with boxes mending their sleeping bags whilst smoking a pipe. Lieut Evans is also pictured observing Jupiter through a telescope in the middle of the night, whilst dressed in a balaclava and heavy overcoat. Herbert Ponting himself is also captured working in the dark room and posing with his cinematograph (the tripod mounted film camera that he used to record the voyage).
Ponting’s brief was to also satisfy the expedition’s sponsors and so the collection includes humorous, advert-like images of crew members consuming Heinz baked beans and Fry’s chocolate. In one image, an expedition member sits on two boxes marked ‘Heinz Baked Beans’, on the snow. He holds a can in one hand and a spoon in the other.
Getty Images Gallery Director, Louise Garczewska said, “Ponting’s images are truly awe-inspiring. They capture both the otherworldly beauty of the bleak Antarctic landscape as well as the spirit of excitement, discovery and unknown danger etched across the faces of these brave men. The images recorded by Ponting set down a flag in the pages of history and marked a new frontier in photography. We are proud to commemorate the courage of those involved in this legendary expedition and to celebrate Ponting’s remarkable work.”
Heather Lane, Librarian and Keeper of Collections at the Scott Polar Research Institute said, “We are pleased that Getty Images are bringing Ponting’s stunning photographs to a wider audience, particularly in this year, which marks the centenary of the start of Captain Scott’s British Antarctic Expedition, 1910-13. Ponting was the first professional photographer of the Antarctic and his work has as great an impact today as it did one hundred years ago.”
Exhibition runs: 4th February – 6th March | Gallery opening: Mon – Fri: 10.00-18.30, Sat: 12.00-18.00 | Admission free.