Davis Arts ‘n’ Craft Show

This weekend, we were lucky enough to have our very own art exhibition.  It was first announced nearly two months ago, and every one expected great things of it.  Many of the tradesmen here are artisans either in their trade, or in another hobby.  Many of the other expeditioners also have hidden talents that we’ve now been privy to.

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Friday afternoon was a busy time upstairs in the Living Quarters (LQ) as the station carpenters stripped parts of the library out.  The electricians spend a couple of hours running extra power for the display lamps too.  Nick, our ad hoc curator, and a hand-picked assistant then received the many ‘Offerings’ throughout Saturday morning.  By lunch time all offerings were received and the layout began in earnest (or so he tells me).  As signed, the show opened at 5pm replete with wine and canapes.

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The first art I came across was a series of etched copper images made by one of the technicians here.  He’s an electronics technician from the old school, so etching Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) is something he’s done countless times before.  For the show, however, he taught a couple of group lessons on how to pick a suitable image, print it onto a transparency, and then use it to expose and etch the image onto either a blank PCB card or a sheet of copper.  The resulting images are quite lovely.

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As you can see, Davis is home to some people talented with working wood.  A couple of these talented artists have been collecting rare and interesting pieces of timber for years  in preparation for works like this.  The clock on the weathered timber is probably my favourite.

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That’s not to say we’re not without talented metalworkers.  We have both veteran and ‘young guns’ within the trade, and the youngest guy on station is also a talented machinist.  Other works include pens, bottle openers, ice trays and many other practical good that were produced to fill a need, but with attention to detail and artistry that are way beyond any necessity.

As a brief aside, I’d like to explain the engraving on many of these works.  It’s a long-standing tradition to mark anything made down here with the station name, the GPS co-ordinates of the station (or sometimes even the workshop if people get very specific), and the expedition number; this year is the 67th Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition (ANARE).

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Once again, more hidden talents among the expeditioners.  I think we’re a pretty amazing mob on the whole!

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The last two items I’ll show you have stories behind them.  The first is a cargo label from 1982, which is significant to me because it’s the year I was born.  Given time and access to the library at the AAD head office in Kingston, Tasmania, I could probably track down exactly what project this was for and what goods it contained.

The clock, as mentioned, has a more recent history.  In order to allow smokers to smoke during inclement weather, each station has a small ‘smoker’s hut’ or ‘smoker’s donga’.  It’s physically separated from any building to reduce the risk to the station should it catch on fire.  This was put into practice at Davis station in 2010 as the hut caught on fire that winter.  Most of the interior was stripped and replaced or rebuilt, but this clock was kept as a memento and reminder.

This post has been a little heavy on pictures, so I’ve tried to keep it lighter on words.  Some of the photos don’t really do justice to the works themselves, but I’m sure you now have an appreciation of how ingenious and skilled some of our station is.  None of this would’ve happened without the impetus given single-handedly to the project by Nick, the curator (and resident cartoonist).  I give thanks to everyone involved in the show, as I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly.

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