McMURDO AND THE ARTS

As long as humans have been coming to this area, they have been artistically inspired by its unique beauty.  It all started with Herbert Ponting’s photos and Dr. Edward Wilson’s sketches & paintings from the early 1900’s.

Ponting was a professional photographer who came to Antarctica with R.F. Scott 100 years ago.  He took both still photos and movies.  He even built a dark room in Scott’s hut.  (Where the explorers stayed in at Cape Evans.)

Wilson (who died next to Scott in a tent during their trek back from the pole) was also inspired by the local landscape.  His sketches and paintings are supposedly quite remarkable.  Works of these two artists are available for viewing at the Scott Polar Institute, located at the University of Cambridge, UK.

Music was part of the early Ross Island residents lives, also.  They had a pianola (player piano) in the hut to help entertain everyone during the long winter darkness.  They frequently gathered around the pianola to sing popular songs.

Today’s residents have numerous outlets to express their creativity.  Before Christmas an arts & crafts fair was held by local artisans.  I went to it expecting to see a lot of “crafts” and very little “art.”  But, I was pleasantly surprised by the creativity and quality of the goods.  Some of the products: handmade jewelry, knitted hats & mittens, photographs, wood bowls, and hand-sewn bags.

Musicians have numerous venues to share their talents.  Every few weeks, the Coffee House hosts an open mike night.  The admittedly small venue is usually packed and SRO.  Musicians also gather at the Coffee House for a weekly acoustic jam session.

But, the big music event of the season is “Icestock” which is held during the annual New Year’s Holiday.  This year featured 12 acts.  The concert was outside and lasted from noon until almost 7:00 p.m.  We were blessed with beautiful weather this year – sunny, temps in the high 30’s & calm.  The music didn’t stop there.  Musicians continued playing inside at the local clubs until around midnight.

Local actors have an outlet for their talents, also.  A production of “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” was performed before Christmas.  Someone is currently looking for actors to help put on a stage production of “The Princess Bride.”

And finally, following Herbert Ponting’s lead, local filmmakers can display their short-films (5 minute or less) at the McMurdo Film Festival.  Coming soon, exclusively at McMurdo Station, Antarctica.


This year’s stage.  Unsorted Trash is performing.

Above:  Hand knitted hats & scarves.  Below:  Earrings

Below are 3 sculptures found around McMurdo.


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