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As the official photographer on the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, Frank Hurley provided a remarkable record of the dangers and heroism of Antarctic exploration in the early twentieth century.
'Endless scope is presented in Polar photography by the abundance of seal and bird life, the illimitable and exquisite beauty of formations of the great inland ice sheet itself, the barrier and icebergs, sea ice and the thousand and one details of the explorer’s own life.’
Frank Hurley 1914
Frank Hurley visited Antarctica six times. The first visit with the Australasian Antarctic Expedition in 1911 and his last in 1932 with the British, Australian, New Zealand, Antarctic Research Expedition (BANZARE). Hurley’s images of the expeditions, particularly those led by Douglas Mawson and Sir Ernest Shackleton, remain an extraordinary and poignant record of the discovery and exploration of the last continent of Antarctica.
For many people, Hurley’s images of Antarctica were the first they had seen of the southern continent. His photos of Antarctica, the daily lives of the explorers, the challenging climate and the beautiful and diverse wildlife are as vivid and real as a visit to Antarctica today. Hurley’s interest in Antarctica was probably stimulated by the news of previous Antarctic expeditions and by his meetings with Antarctic expeditioners in 1909, when the Nimrod of Shackleton’s first expedition visited Sydney.
Born in 1885, Hurley left school at 14 and went to work at an iron foundry at Lithgow. He bought his first Kodak box camera for 15 shillings at the age of 17. He could not have imagined that his career in photography would become such a significant part of the historic record. Frank Hurley’s interest in photography was consolidated in the post card business. In 1905, he worked as a photographer with Cave & Co., a postcard business in Sydney and in 1908 he was made a partner.
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