04 December 2014
bto solicitors has announced the launch of virtual exhibition STRETCHED WINGS TOWARDS THE SOUTH, an online exhibition of the flags from the British Antarctic Expedition of 1910-13 led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott, his last expedition to Antarctica. These flags tell the story of the countries and people that participated - of their 'hardihood, endurance and courage'. It is often known as the Terra Nova Expedition after the name of their ship.
Launched at The National Library of Scotland, bto has sponsored the build of this new and unique archive which details 55 flags taken by the expedition (http://stretchedwings.com/). It includes sledge flags, which were personal flags taken by individuals, plus national, community, ship and marker flags. These flags appear in photographs taken during the expedition, feature in press reports from the time and are referred to in the journals and memoirs of expedition members.
Photo from left to right: Ewan Steel, Paula Williams and Malcolm Good.
Malcolm Good, a polar enthusiast and curator and manager of this exhibition, was the driver behind this special project. Malcolm took a keen interest in the heroic age of polar exploration after reading about the exploits of Nanson, Amundsen, Scott, Bruce and others. As Malcolm is also interested in iconography and the value people place on symbols, this led him to organise a syndicate that commissioned a portrait of Robert Scott from Calum Colvin and to undertake this project on the flags from the Terra Nova.
Malcolm commented: “This virtual online exhibition brings together these flags for the first time since they were in Antarctica. It provides commentaries about the flags and their legacy - which continues to this day as they are used to interpret attitudes and understanding of nationality, patriotism and endeavour.
“This exhibition would not have happened without the expertise, enthusiasm and input of many partner institutions around the world, as well as sponsorship from bto, and we are very grateful for their contributions and support.”
Paula Williams collaborated with Malcolm on this project and co-curated the exhibition. Paula is also Curator of Maps, Mountaineering & Polar Collections at the National Library of Scotland.
Paula said: "For some of the men the silk flags were treasured symbols of home and family; for others, who ended up making their own, they were a symbol of belonging. For the communities left behind, the fact that the explorers were taking their flags to the Pole meant that they were taking part in the journey too, and lending support to their heroes.
“The project has been fun, a real paperchase. Hunting through both original journals and accounts and modern archives and collections, we gathered together evidence of more than fifty flags, many of which still exist."
bto’s chairman, Alan Borthwick, commented: “bto is honoured to be supporting such a valuable, worthwhile project - a real labour of love for all of those involved. We hope that many people will take the opportunity to visit this website and learn of the courage and determination of this heroic expedition.”