Beyond the Ice - Photo Gallery
Words and Photos by: Saskia Coulson and Colin Tennant
Nature and our relationship to the environment are strong emotional drivers in our practice. We strive for our photographs to ask pertinent, complex questions about contemporary issues of the human condition, the environment, and the future of our planet.
In late 2017 and early 2018, we travelled from Scotland to the Southern Hemisphere to capture the pristine beauty of Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands. In the summer of 2018, we ventured north to explore Svalbard in the High Arctic. Discovering narratives in natural environments is one way we explore our relationship to place. This is a collection of photographs from our time investigating these two extraordinary parts of the world.
Having been to both polar regions we’ve noticed that the landscape, wildlife, and light are all incredibly diverse. Both equally breathtaking, but in very different ways. One of our most memorable experiences from the Arctic was the night we travelled to 82º 41.28 North, only 400 nautical miles from the North Pole. We stayed up through the night and watched as the midnight sun moved across the sky and transformed the sea ice through a spectrum of colors.
Living in Scotland, we feel a strong connection to the North. There are many links, but one which we find most interesting is the migration path of Barnacle Geese which travel from Svalbard to south-west Scotland, where we live. In Svalbard, we saw these geese many times and we watched as they prepared for the long journey home for the winter.
As the ship sails closer to the Antarctic Peninsula, it passes over the Antarctic Convergence - causing the temperature to drop significantly and producing a feeling like entering into another world.
However, there is something about Antarctica that is truly unique. We travel there by ship, leaving from Ushuaia through the ominous Drake Passage. As the ship sails closer to the Antarctic Peninsula, it passes over the Antarctic Convergence - causing the temperature to drop significantly and producing a feeling like entering into another world. This is also when the first glimpses of giant icebergs occur, drifting in the Southern Ocean. This leg of our journey always brings to mind a section from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge:
"And now there came both mist and snow,
And it grew wondrous cold:
And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
As green as emerald.
And through the drifts the snowy clifts
Did send a dismal sheen:
Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken—
The ice was all between.”
On arrival, the ice-covered landscapes and abundant wildlife are truly extraordinary. The sheer scale, beauty, and diversity of the location is mesmerising and although we don’t consider ourselves wildlife or landscape photographers, we are consumed by these subjects and integrate them with our documentary and fine art photographic aesthetic.
This selection of photographs was first exhibited in a show entitled Beyond the Ice that took place during the fall of 2018 in Scotland. The exhibition was a reflection of months spent exploring the rugged landscapes and unpredictable seas, as well as documenting the extraordinary behaviour of wildlife in their natural habitat. These images capture the awesome beauty of the polar regions, but also remind us of their fragility and why we need to protect these areas in the face of the ever-growing climate crisis.