Antarctic explorer's experience retraced by grandson

08 February 2011

Any trip to Antarctica is an amazing experience, but following in his grandfather's footsteps more than 100 years later was a memorable and emotional experience for Julian Evans.

Antarctic explorer's experience retraced by grandson - Imported from Legacy News system

Julian Evans pictured in the Terra Nova Hut at Cape Evans.

Any trip to Antarctica is an amazing experience, but following in his grandfather's footsteps more than 100 years later was a memorable and emotional experience for Julian Evans.

Julian is completing the University of Canterbury's Gateway Antarctica's Postgraduate Certificate in Antarctica Studies, a course that interested him for its in-depth immersion in the history, science, political discourse, environmental concerns and future challenges of the frozen continent and surrounding seas.

It also meant that he would be able to visit the same places his grandfather had been. Julian is the grandson of Lt "Teddy" Evans (later Admiral E.R.G.R. Evans, 1st Baron

Mountevans of Chelsea, KCB, DSO, 1881-1957) who was second-in-command of Robert Falcon Scott's ill-fated expedition to the South Pole in 1910-1913 and was captain of the ship, Terra Nova. Captain Scott led a party of five that reached the South Pole on 17 January 1912, only to find that they had been beaten to it by Roald Amundsen's Norwegian expedition. On their return journey, Captain Scott and his four team members all perished from a combination of exhaustion, starvation and extreme cold. Evans returned to England with the expedition and lectured throughout the UK on Captain Scott's behalf. He later went on to write three books on the Antarctica including South with Scott (1921), British Polar Explorers (1944) and The Desolate Antarctic (1950).

Julian and his siblings grew up among artefacts and exciting and enthralling stories about the Antarctic.

"We heard stories of adventure and famous people visiting grandfather," he said.

"It was great fun - my brother and I would look at grandfather's midshipman's logs and get out the glass slides from the Terra Nova journey that expedition photographer Herbert Ponting took. As little boys we got a lot of pleasure from the slides and artefacts - it was part of the fabric of our lives. It didn't seem out of the ordinary."

Julian's father followed in Admiral Evans' footsteps giving lectures about the Terra Nova expedition. His father's dying wish, was for him to keep the memory alive.

"I wanted to go on telling the stories - they are great stories to be telling, tales of heroism and adventure, and what they did was amazing. But, to have a sense of connection with the past I had to relate to it in my own way. I had to visit Antarctica and connect with it the best way I could, and that was as a composer."

He enrolled in the Postgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies and travelled down to the ice in December. Although he had heard about the continent all his life, Julian said that his experience on the ice was incredible.

"However much you know about a place there's nothing like being there. To go to Scott's Hut and to see even the bunk where my grandfather slept was quite an emotional experience," he said.

Scott's Hut is in Cape Evans, named after Julian's grandfather, a rocky cape on the west side of Ross Island.

As part of his musical project Julian made an installation of hollow ice tubes on the ice shelf at Windless Bight. The PVC tubes and fittings for the construction of the ice pipes were donated by Marley New Zealand Ltd. Wired with contact microphones inside the ice - the five frozen flutes represented the five members of the expedition who died on the way back from the pole. Julian recorded the sounds of the pipes as the Antarctic wind blew over them.

"I was very pleased with the field recordings which will be used in several of my compositions. I'm also writing some choral pieces including a setting of Scott's Last Message to the Public, a cappella piece for five male voices."

He will also use the sound of the ice flutes as part of a music installation commissioned by the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge for their Centenary Exhibition.

Julian will give a public lecture titled "South with Scott" on Tuesday 15 February, 6-7.30pm, in the University of Canterbury's A2 Lecture Theatre. The lecture is based on Admiral Evans' book South with Scott and illustrated with images taken by the expedition photographer, Herbert Ponting, given to Julian's grandfather after their return home in 1913.

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