Time to go

I’m all packed and ready with an extortionately large suitcase and hand luggage. It’s been a challenge to know what to take in terms of art materials but I’ve decided to keep it simple. I’ve got various sketch pads and journals, a good set of pencils, my watercolours and some small paintbrushes. I’ve also got two large bull dog clips with me in case I think I can get out on deck to sketch quickly in the driving wind and rain.

I want to ‘push the boat’ in terms of creativity while I’m on board but I think most people will be expecting me to paint the obvious, the ship, the sea and the people. I’m going to do that anyway but I’m sat here with a few hours to spare, trying to think up something a bit more challenging.

I’d like to benchmark each day with a set of statistics that I can use to measure against other days. These statistics could be anything from the outside temperature to the wind speed, to our global position on the Southern Ocean.

Spring is my favourite time of year when life is erupting in the countryside, full of bright, vibrant colours. Winter is approaching in the Southern Ocean. I’m prepared for some harsh conditions and a fair bit of sea sickness. I’ve got sea bands, tablets, ginger tablets (apparently these really work) but even for someone with good sea legs I think this trip could challenge the most robust of stomachs.

Tomorrow afternoon I should be at Port Stanley in the Falklands.

Building the SMILES project website

Pre-trip creativity means I’m busy working on building a website for the SMILES team on JR311 (the number for our cruise from BAS). We’re hoping that I’ll be able to fill in the website with rich content as we start out on April 19th. I’ve been told there is a reliable internet connection but bandwidth issues will be a challenge. The website has gone live this week and can be seen at www.smiles-project.org

Sample screen grab of website

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A Once in a Lifetime Opportunity

When the unique opportunity to spend 34 days on the Southern Ocean with a team of Oceanographers presented itself to me, there was only one answer and that was a huge YES! They needed someone with web/graphic/photographic and artistic skills to support their work whilst on the RSS James Clark Ross.

  • Did I know what Submesoscales was? No, hadn’t a clue….
  • Was I happy to book myself, pronto, onto a sea survival course to get my Personal Survival Techniques (PST) certificate?
  • Was I aware that it was going to be winter, dark, very windy, extremely cold and the seas were some of the roughest on our planet?
  • Was I free for most of April and May 2015?

I’ve always considered myself to be quite adventurous and I’ve been a keen traveller for most of my life. This trip will take me via the Ascension Islands to the Falklands where we will board our ship and set off on the wonderfully named SMILES Cruise (Surface Mixed Evolution at Submesoscales).

There are only two weeks to go before I head off and I’m busy choosing a new camera for the expedition. Two lenses, one will be a good zoom for any potential marine life and something sturdy and stable to withstand the elements. BAS (The British Antarctic Survey) have organised the trip for us, along with the team leader Philip Hosegood and the rest of his team.

I’ve packed paintbrushes, pencils, ipad, notepads and watercolours. Ironically I’m a landscape artist who has never painted any seascapes. I love using oil paints on large boards and I paint in a meticulous and very detailed way. I’m going to be completely out of my comfort zone on this cruise and thats the challenge.