Some great stories will be told at the inaugural Dunedin
Writers and Readers Festival next week, including those of
Huw Lewis-Jones. Nigel Benson hooked up with the English
climber, writer and historian.
Life is an adventure for intrepid author Huw Lewis-Jones.
Answering the call of the wild has become a raison d'être for
the English explorer and historian, who travels the world
lecturing on adventure and the visual arts.
Dr Lewis-Jones is in Dunedin for the inaugural Writers and
Readers Festival, which runs from May 6 to May 11, presenting
his illustrated talk ''In Search of Adventure - Expeditions
The talk is based on his book The Conquest of Everest
about photographer George Lowe, who accompanied Sir Edmund
Hillary on the historic 1953 ascent of Everest.
It includes a slide show featuring rare original photographs,
film, excerpts from Lowe's letters sent back to New Zealand
and anecdotes from the expedition.
''I'll be doing presentations on Kiwi George Lowe and his
original photographs from Everest in 1953, from one of my
recent books,'' Dr Lewis-Jones told the Otago Daily
Times from Cornwall this week.
Lowe was the last surviving member of the 1953 British Mount
Everest Expedition, until he died last year, aged 89, at a
nursing home in Derbyshire, England.
''I was lucky enough to know the late George Lowe, a veteran
of the first ascent of Everest in 1953. A wonderful man who
sadly died last year shortly after we'd completed a number of
"It was a privilege for me to work with George; a huge
honour, really. Far more important than awards. You don't
often have the chance to meet your heroes.''
The Conquest of Everest, which marked the 60th
anniversary of the ascent, reignited public interest in the
ascent and exposed a new generation to Lowe's history-making
''We were all very upset by his passing, but it has been
heart-warming to see how his story has now spread across the
"A true New Zealand hero, just like his best mate, Sir Ed. We
do everything we can to honour him and his companions on that
incredible expedition. They were true pioneers.''
At just 33, Dr Lewis-Jones has also scaled many peaks.
''I first travelled to the Himalayas as a student and have
climbed in the Alps and North America.
"I now direct exhibitions with leading international
documentary photographers, like renowned Icelandic
photographer Ragnar Axelsson, as well as championing the work
of emerging artists and other very talented creative
He is a former curator of art at the Scott Polar Research
Institute, University of Cambridge, and curator of imperial
and maritime history at the National Maritime Museum, in
He is also a council member of The 1805 Club national
charity, a Royal Geographical Society Fellow and a member of
the Travellers Club in London. His other books include
Ocean Portraits, Arctic, In Search of the South Pole
and Mountain Heroes, which won 2012 adventure book of
the year prize at the world ITB awards.
Dr Lewis-Jones' research interests include the intellectual
history of exploration, maritime hagiography and the cultural
history of the 19th century and he lectures on Antarctic and
Arctic exploration, portraiture, print culture and the
history of photography.
''For the last five years, I've been directing a number of
international art and photography projects. I've also been
lucky to curate a number of important private collections
and, when I have the time, to do a little bit of telly and
work as a polar guide and go into the wilderness on my own
adventures,'' he said.
''I've been travelling with artists and photographers in
polar regions for a while now, formerly curator of art at
Cambridge University and the Scott Polar Research Institute,
but mountains and the history of photography are other big
passions for me.''
Dr Lewis-Jones, his partner, writer and photographer Kari
Herbert, and their daughter, Nell, moved to Cornwall last
Ms Herbert is the daughter of late polar explorer and artist
Sir Wally Herbert.
The couple run a publishing company, Polarworld, that
produces books about the polar regions.
Titles to date include The Polar World by Sir Wally Herbert,
North-East Greenland - The Trapper Era by Peter Schmidt
Mikkelsen and Face to Face: Polar Portraits by Dr Huw
Lewis-Jones, in association with the Scott Polar Research
Dr Lewis-Jones presents ''In Search of Adventure -
Expeditions and Explorations'' from 12.30pm to 1.45pm, in the
Dunedin Public Library Dunningham Suite, on May 11.
The talk will be chaired by Dunedin natural historian Neville
- The inaugural Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival is on
from May 6 to 11.