Yesterday, I found myself at the McManus Gallery in the Centre of Dundee. I had heard of the new exhibition ‘Charting New Waters‘ and it seemed fascinating, so I figured I’d head over to take a look. The exhibition has a collection of model ships, paintings and even a pair of shoes. It celebrates Dundee’s history regarding voyages and whaling.
Dundee is known for Jute, Jam, and Journalism; and whale oil was used in the process of softening the jute fibres, so whaling was a significant part of Dundee’s history. Furthermore the National Antarctic Expedition Committee commissioned the Dundee Shipbuilding Company to construct an adapted whaler, in 1899; this lead to the building of the Discovery, an iconic piece of Dundee’s history.
Walking through the exhibition, there was a certain stillness. I can only imagine what being in the Antarctic must be like – barely a soul moving, completely alone, silence. For this reason I found especially interesting Frances Walker’s paintings – The Antarctic Suite. Walker is acknowledged as one of Scotland’s finest artists. Inspired by wild and remote places, barely touched by civilisation, Walker’s paintings are serene and hauntingly beautiful. Her dream of travelling to the Antarctic was finally realised in 2007 upon receiving the James McBey Travel Award, following this she embarked on an 18 day voyage across the Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetlands, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. Upon her return to Aberdeen she painted a series of icescapes. In these paintings she creates a enchanting relationship between sky, sea and land. The exhibition also includes Frances’ diary that she kept whilst on the expedition, in it she notes:
We were off Elephant Island very early in the morning – an awesome magnificent wild place in the dawn light – cold and gloomy.
I must absolutely recommend visitors to Dundee and students alike to take a moment to visit the McManus gallery, as it is fascinating to learn about this city’s history and to see such beautiful works of art. The exhibition is free to enter and open until the 23rd October 2016, but some pieces are being added to the gallery’s permanent collection so you should be able to see them later even if you can’t make it to the exhibition in time.