Visions of the Great White South

This summer I had the opportunity to curate a wonderful exhibition. Bonhams, who sponsor the Artist in Residence programme at the Scott Polar Research Institute, kindly offered us the use of their showrooms in New Bond Street to hold a temporary exhibition. We eagerly took them up on their offer, and decided not only to feature some of our fantastic artists in residence, but also to display some of our historic collection as well.

Here I am, trying to look natural for the cameras while holding one of our platinum-palladium prints of Scott stood by his sledge, beautifully produced by Salto-Ulbeek

When Captain Scott was planning his second Antarctic expedition, usually known by the name of its ship the Terra Nova, he appointed his good friend Edward Wilson as the Chief Scientist. He also hired a photographer, Herbert Ponting, who preferred to be known as a camera artist. Ponting and Wilson liked and respected one another, and we know from their diaries that they discussed holding a joint exhibition of their work. Unfortunately Wilson perished along with Scott on the return journey from the pole, and the exhibition never happened.

We thought the opportunity at Bonhams was too good to miss – so a little over a century later we were able to reunite the works of Wilson and Ponting in one exhibition. You can find out more in this clip, broadcast on BBC Breakfast.

The Curious Incident of the Brown Dog

I was recently interviewed on Radio 4 in a programme about the history of vivisection.

You can listen to the programme here.

Or, you can read an earlier blog post I wrote about the little brown dog here.

Scenes from student life

The seemingly innocuous statue of a small dog, in Battersea Park in London, was the focus of some of the most vocal and violent anti-vivisection protests. Ellie Cawthorne explores the infamous Brown Dog Riots, when anti-vivisectionists fought students in a row over the methodology of training medical students.

On 10 December 1907, 1,000 medical students marched through London waving effigies of a brown dog, clashing with suffragettes, trade unionists and police. The protest was triggered by allegations that, in February 1903, William Bayliss of the Department of Physiology at University College London cruelly performed an allegedly illegal dissection, before an audience of 60 medical students, on an inadequately anaesthetised brown terrier dog.

This was just one of the series of infamous and influential Brown Dog riots which continued over seven years. They changed the shaped of scientific education and research, and transformed how medical students are trained.

Top polar reads: what do you recommend?

I’ve been the curator of the Polar Museum for a little over a month, and unsurprisingly the learning curve has been steep! As well as getting to grips with the running of the museum and all the practicalities that come with that, I’m trying to very quickly get up to speed with the history of the polar regions.

I asked twitter for some reading recommendations. I’ve ended up with a list that combines a combination of quick-hit short articles, about all sorts of things ranging from an unusual form of ‘cold turkey’ to polar aviation (thanks to @lizbruton and @dannybirchall), and some fascinating sounding books that I’ll work my way through over time, like @gabridli’s suggestion of The Idea of the North. I’d love to know what you would recommend, so get in touch with us and we’ll share your favourite polar reads.

Click here to continue reading on the Polar Museum website.