Antarctic Peninsula

Antarctic Peninsula

Open view: Monday 12th June, 6:30pm

 

I started photographing in the mid 1960’s with childhood encouragement from my grandfather. Since then travel and photography have always gone hand-in-hand. The combination gives me my photographic buzz and the further from home and the more unfamiliar the place, the better. My instinct is to be on the streets photographing people around me in close-up but, as a fairly reserved person, it is a skill I’ve had to learn. I have a more natural affinity with composition – particularly of shapes, shadows and lines.

Largely self-taught I entered the digital age in 2003 and bought my first DSLR in 2006. In 2010, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s following a career in which I had clocked up 1½ million air miles in the previous 20 years. Were the two connected?

I resolved to simplify my life (which took several years to accomplish) and to make travel and photography a key component of it for as long as the disease allowed. In February this year I spent 12 days in Antarctica, completing my goal of visiting all six continents since I was diagnosed.

The main galleries on my website, http://www.kaye-photography.com cover images from Australia, India, Ethiopia, Canada, Cuba, Cambodia, Japan, Brazil, Chile and Antarctica.

I decided to make this exhibition about only Antarctica, largely because relatively few people have had the opportunity to see at first hand its awe-inspiring grandness, feel its isolation and be wholly at the capricious whims of its weather. It was a definite part of the Antarctic experience having only a vessel between me and the dangers of a force 10 storm with its 70mph winds and 10 metre waves.  The photos taken at the height of the storm are, admittedly, of lower quality but there is no mistaking its power.

Reading about Shackleton’s expedition of 1915 is de rigeur for any visitor to Antarctica for its death-defying drama of man’s determination and endurance against these forces of nature. Their ship was crushed by ice, and they had to escape in rowing boats only to be battered by similar storms as they tried to make their way to South Georgia, the closest place with human inhabitants. Because of declining food rations, some of the crew had to be left on uninhabited Elephant Island, whilst Shackleton and the remaining crew rowed a further 800 miles to reach help.  Amazingly they all survived the four months it took to be rescued.

As for climate change, I felt saddened by the visual signs of its impact and privileged to see even just the tip of the continent while it still has grandeur and beauty. It brought to life the bravery of Shackleton and the many expeditions that have suffered an even worse fate and, through the excellent lectures given by the expedition team, I began to really appreciate why Antarctica cannot be taken for granted. Out of sight cannot mean out of mind.