Australia 1885 – 1962
A picturesque ice formation. Shore ice c.1913 Materials & Technique: photographs, carbon photograph
Unlike explorers who sought wealth and fame, Mawson, who taught mineralogy and petrologyat Adelaide University, was a scientist above all and his expedition made significant scientific discoveries, charting new territory and undertaking important research on wildlife and geological phenomena. As a member of Shackleton’s British Antarctic Nimrod expedition of 1907–9, he had made an arduous sledge journey with fellow Australian scientist Professor Edgeworth David to locate the South Magnetic Pole and his interest in magnetism continued on his own expedition. The possibilities of new technology interested Mawson. He introduced radio to Antarctica to report weather conditions. There was also the hope of taking a monoplane down on the expedition but it crashed on test flights in Adelaide and the engine became part of a mechanised air-tractor sledge instead.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra