"untouched, uninhabited landscape for miles in every
direction", is how Dunedin artist Claire Beynon describes her
summer home in the Antarctic.
Ms Beynon is spending a second season on the ice,
accompanying polar biologist Dr Sam Bowser and his American
research team to Explorers Cove, New Harbour.
They will be based at a remote field camp on the edge of the
Taylor Dry Valleys and collaborate on art-science projects.
Her roles would be field and lab assistant, cook, dive tender
and skidoo driver as well as artist.
From McMurdo Base where she was undergoing a refresher course
in ice safety and survival training, Ms Beynon said they
would take a 40-minute flight from McMurdo to Explorers Cove
tomorrow morning to where the sea ice stretched out from the
camp in all directions.
"There's no-one there but us, and nothing but untouched,
uninhabited landscape for miles in every direction."
It was a "stark, spare, desolate place" where silence was "a
voice you can hear and a presence you can feel".
"We hear the wind roaring down the valleys long before we
feel it in camp; when it arrives, it sets our flags flapping
and stirs up the volcanic grit."
The ice sounds were more subtle and when you were out walking
or working on it, it creaked, sighed and sang, she said.
One of her projects involved placing microphone probes into
the tide cracks alongside their field camp to record the
music of the ice.
They would live between a Jamesway shelter and tents so there
was little privacy and few luxuries, as everything they used
or produced had to be collected and flown out by helicopter
at the end of the season.
"We are each allowed a small puddle of water to wash in once
a week or so, and must then use the same water for washing
Despite restrictions, Ms Beynon said she "absolutely loves
"I appreciate the way everything there is reduced to its
absolute basics - the landscape's stripped down; all the
stuff that ordinarily fills our lives, living and work spaces
. . . recedes and becomes less important."