Unique artwork inspired by tragedy gets Olympic showcase
Released: Friday 27th July 2012 at 09:20
A NORTH East artist’s creation - based on a forgotten story behind Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole - will be showcased alongside the work of Britain’s leading creative talents to global business leaders during the London 2012 Games.
James Maskrey, who is based at the University of Sunderland’s National Glass Centre, will see his work, ‘The Worst Journey in the World’, on display in the historic Lancaster House at St James’s district, West London.
It’s part of an exhibition created by The Crafts Council in which 21 pieces of exceptional contemporary craft go on display at the British Business Embassy for the duration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The British Business Embassy has been developed by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and will provide a world-class creative exhibition that will host over 3,000 UK and international business leaders over the course of the games.
James said: “To have your work showcased alongside the likes of Grayson Perry and Wendy Ramshaw at such a prestigious occasion like the Olympics is fantastic. I’m really honoured, and Lancaster House is such an impressive venue. It’s great that this event will give a platform to British crafts and artists on an international scale.”
James’s artwork was inspired by the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition, which ended in tragedy in 1912 when Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his team died on their return journey from the South Pole. The circumstances around Scott’s doomed race to the pole are well known, but a little known fact that was part of the expedition’s aims were to collect Emperor penguin eggs from a rookery at Cape Crozier in the Antarctic.
‘The Worst Journey in the World’ is based on that expedition, created in the University’s hot glass workshop at the National Glass Centre, and shows a lidded opalescent jar containing eggs, topped with a model of an Emperor penguin. The whole piece has been made in glass.
“Much of the Terra Nova expedition was based around scientific discovery; the race for the Pole was only a part of it. It was thought that Emperor penguins’ eggs would yield the scientific holy grail of the missing evolutionary link between dinosaurs and birds,” explained James, a glass artist and glass technician. “Gaining the embryo of the Emperor penguin was considered the scientific equivalent perhaps, of obtaining the Pole itself.”
Only three eggs survived the journey back from Cape Crozier with Edward Wilson, Birdie Bowers and Apsley Cherry-Garrard. Cherry-Garrard was the only survivor of what became known as ‘The Winter Journey’ as both Wilson and Bowers perished with Scott on the return from the Pole the following year, just 11 miles short of One-Ton Depot. He wrote about his experiences on the Terra Nova Expedition in his 1922 book The Worst Journey in the World, where Cherry-Garrard tells of the 130 mile journey to Cape Crozier in complete darkness and in temperatures of -60C.
“The piece took a long time to research and develop,” says James, who has worked with glass since 1990, has an MA in glass from the University of Sunderland, and has been based in the city since 2001. “The actual making process of blowing hot glass is quite short, but developing the ability to do this takes a long time.”
‘The Worst Journey in the World’, is the latest in a series of artworks by James Maskrey that celebrate voyages of discovery, endeavour and exploration. His works have been shown in national and international exhibitions including SOFA New York, the International Glass Symposium in the Czech Republic, The British Glass Biennale and at the Houses of Parliament.
Most recently, the work was acquired by The Crafts Council for its COLLECT display, at the Saatchi Gallery in London, alongside other artists from the world’s finest galleries and museum collections.
It will now stand in the library at Lancaster House, where 18 rooms have been curated to champion sectors such as technology, engineering and the creative industries.
A creative panel, chaired by UKTI Business Ambassador Sir John Sorrell and including Ed Vaizey MP, Sir Mark Jones, Iwona Blaswick and Executive Director of the Crafts Council Rosy Greenlees, selected the designers, works and installations to highlight the best of British creativity.
These include one-off commissions, loaned works and full-room displays by creative figures such as Ron Arad, Barber Osgerby, Jason Bruges Studio, Lee Broom, Terence Conran, Foster + Partners, Heatherwick Studio, Ross Lovegrove and Paul Smith.
The Crafts Council showcase will be displayed within three locations at Lancaster House and will represent the best in traditional and new techniques, range across disciplines and include new and unexpected materials. As well as loans from individual makers and galleries.
Sir John Sorrell CBE said: “The Games will ensure the eyes of the world are on London – the world’s creative hub. The British Business Embassy will provide an elegant and exciting environment in which international leaders will come to do business, whilst at the same time showcasing the breadth of our creative industries.”
Rosy Greenlees, Crafts Council executive director, added: “The inclusion of a showcase of contemporary craft at the British Business Embassy highlights how significantly this sector contributes to the creative industries in the UK. We have some of the most talented, ambitious and innovative makers in the world. They are rightfully taking their place alongside designers, artists and architects in what will be a tremendous showcase of unique British creativity."