White Silence: Grahame Sydney’s Antarctica, 2008
Flags denote ‘roadways’ and safe paths across the ice. Red and green flags are a sign of safe passage, black flags mean danger.
A natural monochrome: the dark volcanic stone of Observation Hill meets the sea ice on a cloud-blanketed day.
Pegasus Airfield, on the permanent Barrier ice. The Constellation aircraft crashed on landing years ago, and is slowly being swallowed by the wind-blown snows.
Condition One blizzard at McMurdo, November 2003.
Everyone is a visitor in the Antarctic: no one belongs. One or two secretive lichens aside, there is no life away from the ocean; too far straying from the life support of the sea and all animal life perishes. Nature makes it abundantly plain that this is no place for humankind, and that our presence on the sterile frozen continent is a temporary pass, as unwelcome and inappropriate as on the moon.
Grahame Sydney was born in Dunedin in 1948 and gained his secondary education at King’s High School. Though art classes were not on offer (Sydney learnt his painter’s craft through private classes) there was a Camera Club, and he was introduced to photography under the inspired tuition of the late Reg Graham. While photography remained a satisfying pastime well into Sydney’s adulthood, it took a back seat to the development of his painting. Sydney embarked on a full-time artist’s career in 1974. Working in egg tempera, watercolour and oils, his paintings have been widely exhibited and are held in private and public collections around the world. He also is both etcher and lithographic printmaker.
In November 2003 Sydney flew to Ross Island and, frustrated by attempts to paint in conditions where the brush hardened and exposed fingers threatened frost-bite within seconds, he turned again to the camera. So captivated by this lens-view of a frozen world, he returned in 2006 and took another series of photographs. Exploring a continent that appears at first glance to be devoid of colour, warmth or comfort, each image in fact reveals an extraordinary terrain that is solemn, sparse and poised with a magnificent stillness.
White Silence: Grahame Sydney’s Antarctica
Introduction by Grahame Sydney