Who is Frank Hurley? Many of us might have heard about Sir Ernest Shackleton, the famous explorer that in 1914, on board the Endurance, set sail from London towardtheAntarctica with a crew of 27 men.
Among these men there was also Frank Hurley, the expedition’s photographer, whose work hassurvived until our time against all odds to provide us the visual proofs of an epic adventure.
The aim of the expedition was to cross the Antarctic land from east to west on foot; but the Endurance got trapped through the ice of the Weddell Sea 80 miles from the Pole, and then dragged by the pack’s drift from north to west for 10 months until the crack caused by the ice’s pressure. From that pointfor the castaways a struggle to survive began, walking through the ice toward the sea and taking the dinghies with them.
The picture I propose to tell this story shows the James Caird, the lifeboat that some of the castaways launched from the Elephant Island to South Georgia trying to find rescues. All the Hurley’s production is not only the evidence of an incredible feat but it’s also a witness of devotion to his work.
Hurley was an adventure’s lover and the fact that he could manage difficult situations as previously describe shouldn’t overshadow his ability to create artistic images capable of reaching the essential. He was also a pioneer of the technology at the time and the equipment he had was composed by cameras supporting large-format plates and magnesium flash lights. Pretty heavy to carry on in this kind of trip.
Just few people know that the Endurance’s crew decided to leave some food and survival gear to have space for Hurley’s equipment during the pack’s crossing on foot. They understood the witness’ importance of their unique experience.