NZ IceFest – dust off your ice skates!

NZ IceFest is a celebration of New Zealand’s relationship with Antarctica and of Christchurch’s history as a gateway to the Antarctic. This festival includes many events, as well as interesting speakers, documentaries, and exhibitions.

Cover: Still LifeThe ‘Still Life: Inside the Antarctic huts of Scott and Shackleton’ exhibition (based on the book of the same name), is a series of Jane Ussher’s photos (accompanied by a soundtrack) of objects inside and around the huts. It provides an interesting glimpse into what life may have been like for these explorers.

If you are keen to find out more about Scott and Shackleton we have a lot of books (including ebooks and audiobooks) detailing their remarkable lives. I am currently reading about Shackleton’s amazing survival story surrounding his ship Endurance. It became trapped in the ice and he managed to lead his men to safety through several incredible journeys over land and sea. At IceFest there’s a replica of the James Caird, the lifeboat used by Shackleton and some of his men in their efforts to be rescued, and it was seeing this and the accompanying notes alongside it that prompted me to get reading.

Photo: Statue of Robert Falcon ScottAlso on display at the IceFest is the magnificent marble statue of Captain Robert Falcon Scott, sculpted by Scott’s widow, Lady Kathleen Scott. It was sad to see it in several pieces (it sustained earthquake damage); I do hope that it can be restored. It is an eerie reminder of the earthquakes, and seems very symbolic, shattered but hopefully restorable.

Onto cheerier thoughts… If you’re hungry, I can recommend a West Coast whitebait fritter, and there are also some other great food options available from the stalls at the Icefest. If it is a chilly night and you need some warming up,  then that wintery treat, mulled wine, is available.

The ice skating rink at IceFest looks like fun (if you are more coordinated than I am!), and was getting a lot of use the night we visited. See the IceFest website for pricing and special offers.

NZ IceFest runs from 14 September to 14 October in Christchurch’s Hagley Park (next to the tennis courts that are close to Victoria Lake), and is definitely worth a visit, especially at night when you’ll see the twinkling lights surrounding the ice rink and lighting up the trees. Some activities within the Ice Station have an associated cost, but entry is free and there is plenty to see and do free of charge. For more details, visit the IceFest website.

“Only the unknown frightens men…

But once a man has faced the unknown, that terror becomes the known.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

CoverI can’t wait to see The Heart of the Great Alone: Scott, Shackleton & Antarctic Photography at the Canterbury Museum (the library has copies of the book).

H. G. Ponting’s images record Scott’s Terra Nova expedition of 1910 – 1913 and F. Hurley’s icescapes were taken during Ernest Shackleton’s polar expedition on the Endurance in 1914-16. They were presented to King George V and today belong to the Royal Photograph Collection.

From 20 August 2010 to 20 February 2011 Canterbury Museum is the only venue for this exhibition outside the Queen’s galleries. Not bad, eh?

I’m amazed by how they managed to get such good photos in such weather conditions, it demonstrates that it’s not the equipment that matters but the photographer’s ability (remember to breathe in when you press the shutter!).

If you want to hear and see how Antarctic photography works nowadays, book your spot at the Canterbury Museum for New Zealand’s independent publishing mogul, photographer and conservationist Craig Potton‘s presentation on the 26th of August 2010.

Or perhaps you might prefer to listen to the Curator of the Royal Photograph Collection on the 24th of August 2010.

Who is your favourite great outdoors photographer?

I am very fond of Light and Landscape by Andris Apse, beautiful New Zealand. And it’s hard not to be moved by Ansel Adams‘ black and white masterpieces.