It was a privilege to witness the return of the great polar explorer, Commander Frank Wild, back to South Georgia. It was Frank Wild’s wife’s wish to have him buried in South Georgia and it was fitting to have his ashes reunited along side his friend Sir Ernest Shackleton.
The attached video captures some of the highlights we shot from the service that was attended by relatives of Frank Wild as well as Alexandra Shackleton, Sir Ernest’s granddaughter.
This historic event became a possibility when Frank’s ashes were discovered by the efforts of Angie Butler during her writing of the book “The Quest for Frank Wild”. It is a fascinating and informative read about this great but unsung man. Also it includes his unpublished memoirs from the “heroic” age of polar exploration.
After filming the morning service I spent all afternoon pacing along the shoreline of Grytviken trying to find a composition that would capture the significance of the day. In late afternoon light I found a perch just above the cemetery overlooking the bay. The scene was overwhelming to paint in the few hours left so after several tries I simplified the composition using only the top part of Shackleton’s grave stone in lower right as well as one cross. These suggestions give room for directional lines to pull the viewer across to the church and the last light on the abandoned whaling station. Thanks to One Ocean Expeditions for making this event possible.
"Grytviken, South Georgia" 14in. x 22in. watercolour, 27.11.2011
Frank Wild wrote of Shackletons’s grave site (from Angie Butlers book):
“Grytviken is a romantic spot. All around are big mountains, bold in outline and snow covered. Below lies one of the most perfect little harbours in the world, at times disturbed by the by the fierce winds from the hills and lashed by gusty squalls to a mass of flying spume and spindrift. Often it lies calm and peaceful, bathed in glorious sunshine and reflecting in its deeps the high peaks around, whilst the sea birds, “souls of old mariners,”circle in sweeping flights above its surface and fill the air with the melancholy of their cries. An ideal resting place this for the great explorer who felt, more than most men, the glamour of such surroundings”