letters from the north

Reading fortunes

What does it mean to become unbound?


British Victorian society had a fascination with predicting futures, beckoning ghosts, and other unworldly and heavenly conjuring. There are documented reports and books discussing séances held to draw lost sailors and captains out from their watery tombs. Did these obsessions carry into the next era, as British explorers still became lost at the poles?

Sir Ernest Shackleton's Endurance expedition (Imperial TransAntarctic Expedition) marked the end of this particular Age of Exploration. From Robert Falcon Scott's final death march to this Antarctic expedition, the era of grand voyages in the terms laid out by the technology of the day and nationalistic pride of white men journeying forth into the 'unknown' came to a known end. The gruesome reality of WW1 shook those British exploratory foundations to the bone.

The second photograph in my upcoming exhibition shows tea leaves left at the bottom of a teacup that is caught up in the undulation of a sea, tumultuous and hungry. When the fortune teller attempts to read the leaves, what message reveals itself? Is it hope or despair? Will this tiny boat be capsized and crushed or be released and infinite in its wandering? Unbound from Edwardian cast systems, unleashed from the ice, and able to set its sails and make it to land.