Let sleeping seals lie

November 4, 2005

Sandra Chapman recounted the thrill of being chased by angry fur seals, the wonder of observing the blue light inside ice caves and the difficulty of sketching foam-topped waves from a rolling ship on a voyage to the Antarctic on which she served as artist for the British Antarctic Survey, writes Yfke van Bergen. Last week, the astrophysicist told Cambridge University’s scientific society about her trip in 2003-04, when a ‘dream-time fellowship’ from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts allowed her to put aside her work as head of the Space and Astrophysics Group at Warwick University. Professor Chapman journeyed aboard the RRS James Clark Ross , a research ship that sails from Rothera on Adelaide Island to supply remote BAS bases. She has exhibited her Antarctic photography, sketches and paintings at Harvard University and at Cambridge. She wants her field art to illustrate how a scientist sees the world, to capture the essence of discovery and exploration. ‘People want things to be natural, and Antarctica is the ultimate unspoilt wilderness,’ she said. ‘But by exploring it, you change it. I want to convey that in my art’

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