Painting Antarctica III – John Kelly

John Kelly

“We are on our way to Rumdoodle. Not the mythical mountain of W E Bowman’s 1956 humorous book, but the dramatic nunatak in Antarctica, close to the Australian base at Mawson, that is named after it. We set out with a cast of characters who uncannily resemble the fictional Rum Doodle team: we have scientists, photographers and characters with names such as Cookie and Fossil, the latter busy setting up an Ebox, a temporary shelter, to allow me to paint en plein air out on the sea-ice.

In Bowman’s book, the scientist whose name is Wish is obsessed with measuring the boiling point of snow and experiments on the ascent at every possible opportunity. The scientists with me have a similar obsession with measuring the lift in the earth’s crust; it seems that ice shelves cause the Earth’s crust to displace, and therefore one might detect the depletion of the ice by measuring the shift in the bedrock using GPS. I learn a lot about their project in the Katabatic Bar where the icy clink of glasses allows more bedrock to move.

Rumdoodle is high up on the icy plateau; an incredible, serene landscape that reveals what Antarctica can be. I look across the glittering blue ice littered with rocks that seem to float, their radiant heat having created a moat around the base. In the distance is Fang, the sharp incisor of a peak that identifies the David Ranges, and I am lost to the world as I paint the day away…”

John Kelly is an Australian artist, painter, sculptor and printmaker. He is currently artist-in-residence with the Australian Antarctic Division.

More here from John Kelly’s blog at the Guardian