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Chch Art Gallery exhibition Fossil Cairn – The Weight of Destiny

23 November 2007

Antarctica has held a fascination for many artists who see a challenge in interpreting the challenging landscape. Artist Megan Jenkinson has taken a new angle on the landscape in her installation Fossil Cairn – The Weight of Destiny.

The work features fossils collected from the South Pole by Robert Falcon Scott and his polar party which Jenkinson photographed at the Natural History Museum in London and at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge. She also used one of the fossils housed in Canterbury Museum.

Jenkinson says "While I am interested in what the fossils reveal about a much earlier Antarctica when forests flourished in more moderate temperatures, in this installation I also want to draw attention to Scott’s endeavour and its tragic consequences. These are inextricably connected to these particular rocks, then beyond that to a wider ranging discussion that touches ion aspects of weight, time, dilemma, decision-making processes and their effect on destiny.

"The fossils, therefore, will function as a visual catalyst for discussions on wider issues relating to human endeavour.’’

Fossil Cairn features digital photographs of the fossils presented as a wall installation approximately 2.5 metres high. The fossil prints will be cut out and assembled to form a cairn shape which evokes the form of the snow cairn built over the tent containing the bodies of Scott, Bowers and Wilson after they were found.

Photographs of the fossils which have been enlarged form a triangular structure and the numerical weight of each fossil will included. These weights mingle visually with the fossilised forms and coloured dots and access numbers painted on the by the Natural History Museum for identification.

These weights and their increased size represent the burden the much-weakened men bore in hauling them,’’ says Jenkinson.

Christchurch Art Gallery director Jenny Harper says that, "These remnants of human endeavour evoke a sense of timelessness and represents the ultimate price paid by Scott and his team."

Fossil Cairn – The Weight of Destiny is at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu from 7 December 2007 to 16 March 2008. Admission free.

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