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The imaging of Antarctica : artistic visions in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic since the eighteenth century


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Andrews, L 2002 , 'The imaging of Antarctica : artistic visions in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic since the eighteenth century', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The aim of this thesis has been to explore and discover, expose
and evaluate, the growing body of art created in the Antarctic region.
The art of Antarctica is considered in three chronological chapters:-
'To the Edge', 'Light and Darkness' and 'Diffusion and Diversity'. An
'Introduction' provides a critical appraisal of the extant literature on the
visual arts of the region. 'To the Edge' examines the art created in the
period up until the end of the nineteenth century; 'Light and Darkness'
investigates the art of the Heroic Era when the Antarctic continent was
gradually colonised; and 'Diffusion and Diversity' considers the work of
artists (principally Australian artists) who have visited Antarctica since
the Second World War.
The thesis argues that, although a significant body of visual art has
now been produced, there is not one central dominant theoretical
thread. Various underlying influences, however, such as those of
geo-politics, science, fact and fantasy, and the use of the camera, are
discussed throughout the thesis. Furthermore, because of the isolation
of Antarctica, and the limited opportunity to travel there, the resulting
art is individual and extraordinarily diverse.
In light of this, it was determined that the research would focus on
two important aims. First, the thesis provides a historical account of
the visual arts created in the Antarctic region with particular emphasis
on the art produced on voyages of exploration and supply by British
and Australian expeditions. Outstanding early work of other countries
is briefly mentioned, with particular reference to the images of the
Dumont d'Urville expedition.
Second, because much of the art is so little known, the critical
investigation has employed descriptive analysis as its primary
methodological tool. There is a particular reason for this: the visual
arts of Antarctica have almost invariably been employed to support the
scientific work completed in the region whereas this thesis has sought
to highlight the achievements and the valuable contribution of artists to
the documentation and imagining of the continent. The work of early
scientific illustrators reveals a blend of information and poetry. Images
of the Heroic Era reflect excitement in the exploitation of the relatively
new medium of photography, and their pictures indicate the thrill of
adventure, and a sense of achievement in exploration and scientific
research. Twentieth century artists demonstrate a stimulating,
interpretive diversity of styles and concepts - all of which call for a
greater recognition of Antarctic art both as an independent genre,
and as an important, integral part of Antarctic culture.
The artistic focus has been on two-dimensional art: drawing, painting,
printmaking and photography. In interviews with the author, eight
contemporary artists present wide-ranging individual responses to the
Antarctic and sub-Antarctic. The research included field trips to the
United Kingdom, France and to the area of the Ross Sea and the South
Magnetic Pole in Antarctica, as well as to various research institutes
and libraries around Australia.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Andrews, L
Keywords: Antarctica in art
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2002 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

No photocopying permitted until 1 July 2004. Thesis (M.F.A.)--University of Tasmania, 2002. Includes bibliographical references

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