PolarVirtual Travel Tales


Iceberg  and reflection in Antarctic waters

We’d been sworn to secrecy, but now I can tell you our exciting news. Leroy and I have been lucky enough to be awarded a one-day arts residency… in Antarctica! Given that it’s the first virtual residency ever offered, I suspect we were the only applicants (but let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good story, yes?) The clincher was no prospect of being miserably seasick on a boat for weeks, sucking in diesel fumes and trying to appear stoic under the amused gaze of more hardened sailors.

Leroy has been working for months on a giant timber foot for inclusion in the sculpture garden at Davis, while I’ve been honing my performance poetry skills until they’re sharp and gleaming. We arrived here at our base in Davis around 4am this morning, as raring to go as humanly possible despite the early hour. At this time of the year we can expect a full 24 hours of sunlight. The moon is also up and won’t be setting until late morning. This is where I need to tell you that Leroy is dressed as Scott (of the Antarctic), which caused quite a stir with the station’s crew. And the local Adélie penguins.

We drank nasty instant coffee with scientists Erwin, Diane and Pete, while they explained the workings of the station and what we could expect for the day. While they were preparing whatever it is they needed to prepare (quad bikes, sandwiches and things), Leroy and I nipped over to eastern Antarctica to have a look at the awe-inspiring Blood Falls. The unnerving colour is caused by the super-salty, iron-rich water oxidising as it pushes up through the fissures in the 400m thick ice, not by algae as the original explorers thought.

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