"Creative minds: Artistic and scientific endeavour on polar expeditions 1851 to 1951"
Richard Ferguson FRGS
Date: Wednesday 1st March 2017: 6:00 for 6:30 pm
Venue: Union, University and Schools Club, 25 Bent Street Sydney
Increased specialisation of academic disciplines in the twentieth century has for many lead to the view that Art and Science are at polar opposites when it comes to the value and contribution that art disciplines have made to scientific expeditions. Richard gave an overview of artistic endeavor on early scientific expeditions such as those of Cook / Endeavour 1768, 1771, Baudin / Geographe 1800 - 1803 and Fitzroy / Beagle 1831 - 1836, and how this directly influenced the application of photography on polar expeditions. There is a mounting body of illustrative and taxonomic artistic works being produced as documents of record on scientific and exploring expeditions. The more dramatic and romantic views such as, The Icebergs (1861), created by Hudson River School artist Fredrick E Church (1826 -1900) and Sealers Crushed in Ice (1876) by New Bedford born artist William Bradford (1823 û 1892) are what captured the imaging of the public. The productive mix of art and science was demonstrated through an analysis of over 1,000 images, from three nineteenth century arctic expeditions: William Bradford 1869; Benjamin Leigh Smith 1873, 1880; and George Strong Nares 1875 û 1876. Richard also discussed a re-photographic survey of the Antarctic work of Australian photographer Frank Hurley undertaken over five expeditions between 1987 and 1996.
Richard Ferguson has been involved in the cultural, heritage and education sectors for more than 30 years in both Australia and England. His initial tertiary training was at the National Art School, Sydney and later training in visual arts and photography enabled him to undertake original research and Antarctic field work on five expeditions with the Australian Antarctic Division and commercial operators. His particular area of interest is the use of photography on polar expeditions, which was initially based at the Mawson Institute for Antarctic Research at the University of Adelaide, Scott Polar Institute, Cambridge and then the South Australian Museum. This research, curatorial work and collections management gave rise to increasing involvement in the management of a variety of cultural projects at various museums and galleries. These include: Australian National Maritime Museum; Geelong Gallery; National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, one of twelve lead National Museums of England; and the Melbourne Cricket Club. Prior to that he was Manager of the Museums Australia Museums Accreditation Program. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 1993 for his polar research and fieldwork. He is a member of the Royal Society of Victoria and currently a National Council Member of the International Council of Museums, Australia.