Stephen Eastaugh — Antarctic Arts Fellow 2000, 2002–03, 2009

Stephen Eastaugh in his studio at Mawson station
Stephen Eastaugh in his studio at Mawson station (Photo: Stephen Eastaugh)
Very Little Tree by Stephen EastaughRafting Ice by Stephen EastaughNunatak by Stephen Eastaugh, 2009 — artwork

Born in Melbourne in 1960, Stephen Eastaugh completed a BA in Fine Arts at Melbourne’s Victorian College of the Arts before being awarded a Certificate of Achievement at the University of Oslo. He also completed a Diploma of Education at the University of Tasmania.

Stephen has held more than sixty solo exhibitions since 1987, with venues in Melbourne, Sydney, Broome, Amsterdam, Sofia, Paris, Hong Kong, Manila, Phnom Penh, Bangkok and Antarctica.

His group exhibitions number more than one hundred and have included:

Australian National Gallery, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Museum of Modern Art, Heide, and other regional and commercial galleries in Australia and overseas, many of which hold collections of his work.

Antarctic Impression

Stephen was the first arts fellow to ‘winter-over’ in Antarctica. He returned from his year on the ice in December 2009. During his year he produced a major body of paintings, kept a web diary, gave radio interviews and researched and drafted an Antarctic artist’s book.

Stephen wrote the following just before his departure from Antarctica:

As the first Australian Antarctic Arts Fellow to Winter-over I feel weathered and a little burnt-out but certainly very grateful for this unique experience.

Living in a place with no rain, family, money, shops, police, grass, rivers, streets, animals, neon signs, crowds, sex, flowers, strangers, trees nor mobile phones in a climate not designed for humans for eleven months could make slipping back into one of the busy continents rather bewildering but I do have places to go and people to meet as well as many exhibitions to arrange. The long woolly beard will sadly have to go unless I wish to join some bikers club.

I may look scruffy but I have been productive as I have 200 paintings and 150 works on paper as well as far too many photographs of ice and penguins as cargo.

How to describe this winter-over experience? It is not easy to sum up one whole year anywhere but I shall try. I can say that this year has been more a charm than a hex and definitely a long, stupefying intense spell that has been extremely demanding but extraordinarily worthwhile.

Experiences are often rather rich on the Ice. Captain Scott in 1911 wrote in his final diary — “Great God! This is an awful place.” I understand his dire predicament 98 years ago but today the icecap is dotted with experienced people armed with technology and Antarctica seems not so awful but it certainly does generate an abundance of awe. Over the next few years I shall attempt to display bits of that awe.

A self-published limited edition artist’s travelogue written at Mawson station over the winter of 2009 was launched in a number of cities over 2012.