Art at latitude 74° south

Frank Hurley's photographs of the Endurance exhibition evoke both the awe and the enthusiasm with which he beheld the Antarctic. His journal is, in itself, a tribute to the landscape he relentlessly pursued with his camera. His statements about the beauty of the icescape are poetic. But his photographs—the heart of the Endurance exhibition—are astonishing. Possessed of a technical mastery, a tireless drive and the physical stamina to photograph everything important (and almost everything seemed important), an eye for composition, a love of the subject matter, and a unique point of view, Hurley produced art.

His fingers cracked and bled in a freezing darkroom. He scaled icy peaks and towering masts in search of a unique perspective. He stripped off the insulating warmth of gloves and hat to operate more efficiently. He nearly blinded himself setting off twenty flashbulbs to get a dramatic night shot of the Endurance, beset. He stripped to the waist then immersed himself in the icy water of the sinking ship in order to salvage his whole and half-sized glass plates. He even lamented saying goodbye to Elephant Island, where he had been stranded for months. A tough Australian who knew from childhood he wanted to be a photographer, he bought his first camera as a young boy and paid for it over time. His pursuit of a photograph was legendary. Hurley is a warrior with his camera and would go anywhere or do anything to get a picture, wrote Lionel Greenstreet, one of the Endurance team.

According to the exhibition curator, Caroline Alexander, Hurley's equipment consisted of Graflex cameras and a square bellows stand plate camera. He had several Kodaks, including a Vest Pocket Kodak, which he used on Elephant Island after his professional equipment was safely stored. He used Austral Standard plates and lantern plates, and Cooke lenses of varying foci.


"Frank Hurley" "the end"
"Crean (standing)
and Cheetham"




"Owd Bob"

"Hudson with young
chicks, 12 January 1915;
Lat.74 45S, 22.33W

"Sir Ernest Shackleton"


"Endurance beset, full sail

"The Endurance keeling over"

"The Rescue"


All photos are property of the Scott Polar Institite except: the rescue, the end, Endurance beset, and
Endurance keeling over
. The remainder are property of the Royal Geographic Society.