Monday, October 27, 2008

Put that idea on ice

I've always had a thing for Antarctica, how could I not? The continent and I have are intimately connected - Lake Vanda, how kind of them to name a lake after me.

My artist and writer friend Claire Beynon has just returned for her second stint in Antarctica with the research team of Dr Sam Bowser. Claire's first trip to Antarctica came about due to an amazing set of chance meetings and an invitation she was brave enough to accept.

Claire has a wonderful website, which includes a section on the works inspired by her last Antarctic experience, and photos.

This being the age of the blogosphere she's set up a blog for this visit called Ice Lines, so we can keep an eye on her and make sure shes not getting up to too much mischief down there. Sam Bowser also has a blog Ice Labyrinth which tells of life in the day of a scientist, including battling with coffee pots and diving in Antarctic waters...brrrrr.

Claire and Sam participated in an Art and Science collaboration and had a lot of fun producing InterfaCE which is featured on Claire's website. As well as being a gopher for the science team, Claire is wanting to explore the Antarctic sound-scape during this visit.

Sam Bowser's area of expertise is studying foraminifera, minute but very clever and complex single celled organisms. After listening to them talking and seeing photos of these little beasties, I quite fell in love with the little critters. So much so, in fact, that a foram even makes an appearance in The Ringmaster, when Sam Shephard (not Bowser) is made to feel very small by her boss and compares herself to a foram. I had to fight for that foram. My editor said, no one knows what a foram is, use an amoeba. I said no way, it has to be a foram, they're clever and amazing and can fight dirty! I won.

I've often wondered if you could write a murder mystery in Antarctica. I recall writer Laurence Fearnley saying she had been considering it when she went to Antarctica as part of the Artists on Ice programme, but decided against it upon seeing the physical constraints of the buildings and lack of privacy. But then in 2000 Rodney Marks was in fact murdered in Antarctica, the continents first homicide, so the possibilities are there.

Of course the big question for me is, would I apply for the Artists on Ice programme to write a story set there, or would I be to big a wuss to go somewhere so extreme and out of my sphere of experience? But then if I did and was successful there would be the chance to see Lake Vanda - Vanda at Vanda. And if Claire can do it, and Laurence can do it. Hmmmm.


Fifi Colston said...

Have you had your appendix out? Apparently its a bonus if you have because its a tricky op to have in the arctic circle. I think you should apply, appendix or no because an icy thriller is just what we need!
Would it make a chilling tale? ho ho...

Vanda Symon said...

Ah yes, a chiller killer.

Appendix is still happily in situ, it hadn't even occurred to me to use it as an excuse not to be brave. Perhaps it could be added to a list of 101 best excuses not to do something - my appendix is still healthy.
That's almost as good as what my Mum tells my kids when they want her to play the fiftieth game of scrabble in a row - I can't, I've got a bone in my arm.

Anyway, Antarctica certainly has an allure, and I'm sure Sam Shephard wouldn't be a wuss and would cope with the cold.

Mary McCallum said...

Go for it Vanda! I want to see Vanda at Vanda. I want to see blood on the ice...