We’ve been having a very busy time here at the museum since I arrived around a month ago. It’s my first time here in South Georgia and I have come along with my husband Keiron, who is one of the two Government Officers. I’ve been lucky enough to get a job at the museum assisting Ainslie and the team here.
Ainslie, Steve, Elsa and Bridget have all made me feel very welcome and I’ve had a lot of fun already working in the shop and learning how to use the new tills! The Museum itself is beautifully organised both in the display rooms, shop and the rabbit warren of store rooms and workshops upstairs. The way the building has been maintained and looked after is quite amazing and it makes for a great working environment – the whole building has a lovely feel to it and you have a real sense of the rich history it contains.
We are also expecting the arrival of a new exhibition of prints taken by Theodor Andersson which should be very interesting and a fun project to get involved in. The variety of jobs to be done makes for an interesting day every day. Bridget and I have spent a few days re-organising the store rooms and have become quite obsessed with straightening out the T shirts (I may now have to go home and use a piece of cardboard to fold all of mine!). I’ve had the opportunity to set my hand at many different things including scraping down the mast of the Albatros at the front of the museum in preparation for repainting, designing and building a cabinet to display my locally made jewellery (Hopefully with the help of Thies, one of our visiting Yachting friends) and have also become a dab hand at mopping and cleaning the museum (I shall be an expert before I leave…). We also have a lot of painting to do outside but have to wait for better weather – I thought it was always sunny here 😉
Our latest arrival is Hugh, who has stopped off on the island quite a few times but has never had the chance to stay here before. He is our handyman and is currently busy digging out a trench near the cemetery to ensure our visitors don’t get bogged down in the mud when they come to visit Shackleton’s grave. So we now have a jolly team of four people and lunchtimes have become an extravaganza of last night’s leftovers and chocolate cakes. I shall have to get walking up those mountains to counteract the bingeing.
I think everyone struggles to describe how it is to live and work here in South Georgia because it is so different from any other experience. I read everything I could find about how it might be, but it’s still taken me by surprise. Life here is very comfortable and the small community we have is very welcoming and everyone has a great sense of sharing the real privilege of being here. The scenery is breathtaking (as is all the uphill walking) and the wildlife is so close – it really is like living in a zoo!
Finally, this Sunday we enticed the base members at KEP to come along to the church and set up the Christmas Decorations. We all got into the mood with mince pies, sausage rolls and mulled wine and left the chapel looking very festive – we’re all looking forward to a busy Christmas with quite a few ships due in over the holiday period followed by a well-deserved few days break in the New Year.
Elsa (Curator)’s Blog
I have just arrived back in Edinburgh following a very short but busy season in South Georgia. I arrived in SG on the 6th October along with Steve Massam, our taxidermist. We were put straight to work as the first cruise ship of the season, Ushuaia, followed us into King Edward Cove. It was great to welcome Tim and Pauline Carr back to the Museum as members of the expedition team.
During my stay I undertook a lot of work on updating the existing displays and re-displaying a range of items in storage. Thanks must go to Brian Summers who helped to display a variety of items in the Museum. Brian comes to South Georgia annually to deal with bio-security issues and in particular the bitter cress problem. Unfortunately it just wouldn’t stop snowing so it was a long time before he could access the plants!
I also spent a lot of time processing artefacts from Shackleton House. Shackleton House had been used to house the military personnel at King Edward Point and when it was demolished in 2001 all the items on display inside were moved to the Museum for safekeeping. This material provides a really interesting time capsule of life in Shackleton House and it was fascinating to go through it all. I was aided by Government Officer Pat Lurcock who could recognise the significance of many of the artefacts. Some of the items will be included in an exhibition on Shackleton House in the Jarvis room in future.
Steve got straight to work on a new scale model of Grytviken which will be displayed in the Bonner Room. This is a long term project and it will hopefully increase the visitors understanding of the whaling station and the various processes involved as the majority of the buildings were removed during the massive clean-up for the station from 2003-2005. Steve also completed an adult pintail specimen with duckling during his stay. This will go on display in the Prince Room once it has had a chance to dry. The pintail is a familiar sight around Grytviken and it will be good for the visitors to see the specimen up close.
My time on the island went by so quickly this year and it was very hard to leave when the FPV Pharos came to pick us up in November. Back in Scotland I will be working on interesting projects for the South Georgia Heritage Trust, including an oral history project on the Salvesen ex-whalers.
More news from Ainslie soon…..