For most of his life Frank Hurley sought out and documented journeys of exploration and feats of adventure. In 1911, he secured a place for himself as official photographer on the Australasian Antarctic Expedition led by Sir Douglas Mawson. In 1913, after twelve months in Antarctica, the majority of the exploratory party, including Hurley, left for Australia on board the ship Aurora. The return journey, across the Southern Ocean below latitude 40°, took the ship through a region where, for some hundreds of miles, the sea was scattered with the most sublime of all Antarctic phenomena—icebergs. Among Hurley’s photographs taken during this journey is A turreted berg, a strikingly large image of a lofty iceberg that resembles a floating frozen pyramid. Renowned for his keen sense of theatre, Hurley frequently manipulated his photographs to heighten the drama of a scene. In this work, the sky, with its symmetrically fanning clouds, appears to be the result of the skilful combination of more than one negative. The brilliant colour of the iceberg—a range of intense shades of translucent blue—has also been naturalistically rendered through Hurley’s selective use of toning chemicals.
Text © National Gallery of Victoria, Australia