Thom Atkinson’s photographs of rock samples from Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition of 1908 appear in the latest issue of the excellent Draft magazine. You can see more from the series here…
“Draft asked me to photograph a collection of rock samples gathered by Shackleton’s expedition to the Antarctic,” says Atkinson of the project, which appears in issue six of the magazine. “They were printed alongside rare original documentary photographs of the expedition itself. The rock samples and original prints are currently in possession of the Archive of Modern Conflict from which this issue of the magazine was curated.”
According to the Draft editorial: “The Archive is described by those who work there as ‘a place for material that describes a universe out of kilter, not in balance – a kind of laboratory, where experiments take place’.”
The text that accompanies Atkinson’s photography in Draft, runs as follows: The British Antarctic Expedition of 1907-1909, also known as the Nimrod Expedition after the ship in which it sailed, was led by Ernest Henry Shackleton and was intended as both a scientific exploration and an attempt to reach the as yet unconquered south pole.
Hampered by poor funding and a rift with rival Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott, Shackleton set out on 7 August 1907. Scott had demanded assurances that Nimrod would avoid all areas of Antarctica associated with his own earlier expedition. These assurances effectively made Shackleton’s goal of reaching the pole unattainable. However, forced by ice conditions to land in McMurdo Sound on 29 January 1908, Shackleton broke his word to Scott. Shackleton’s expedition fell short of the pole but succeeded in reaching a more southerly latitude than any previous attempt. The team made it to the South Magnetic Pole and were the first to scale Mount Erebus, an active volcano with a summit elevation of 12,451 feet.
Valuable scientific data and geological samples were collected, and with the planting of the Union Jack flag, Victoria land was claimed for the British Empire. Shackleton was greeted as a hero upon his return to England and received a knighthood for his undertaking.