Antarctica: Frank Hurley | State Library of New South Wales

Hurley's Antarctica

'Endless scope is presented in Polar photography by the abundance of seal and bird life, the illimitable and exquisite beauty of formations of the great inland ice sheet itself, the barrier and icebergs, sea ice and the thousand and one details of the explorer’s own life.’  

Frank Hurley 1914

Frank Hurley visited Antarctica six times, from his first visit with the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 1911 to the last in 1932 with the British, Australian, New Zealand, Antarctic Research Expedition (BANZARE). Hurley was an exceptional photographer and his Antarctic visits covered a substantial part of the heroic age of Antarctic exploration.

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Hurley’s images of the expeditions led by Douglas Mawson and Sir Ernest Shackleton remain as popular and poignant records of a fascinating era of southern discovery.

Once exhibited, Hurley’s pictures were acclaimed as among the finest yet taken of Antarctica. For many people, Hurley’s images of Antarctica were the first they had seen of the southern continent. His internationally renowned images of the Antarctic show the flavour of the continent: his pictures of human life in the far south are now beautiful reminders of a past age – his shots of Antarctica and its wildlife are as vivid and real as a visit to the ice lands now.

Born in 1885, Hurley left school at 14 and went to work at an iron foundry at Lithgow. When he bought his first camera at the age of 17, he could not have imagined that his collection of striking photographs would become such a significant part of the historic record.

Frank Hurley’s interest in photography was consolidated in his post card business. His first pictures earned him a reputation for exciting and dramatic images.

Hurley’s interest in Antarctica was probably stimulated by the news of previous Antarctic expeditions and by his meetings with Antarctic expeditioners in 1909, when the Nimrod of Shackleton’s first expedition visited Sydney.

Frank Hurley's business card 

Frank Hurley's business card, from Australasian Antarctic Expedition - Records, 1 Dec. 1910 - 1 Dec. 1915
Printed card MLMSS 171


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Hurley's Antarctica is made possible through a partnership with the Graham & Charlene Bradley Foundation.

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Hurley's Antarctica
Made possible through a partnership with Graham & Charlene Bradley Foundation