Artist Jenni Mitchell and writer and historian Tom Griffiths depart today for Australia’s Casey station in Antarctica, Parliamentary Secretary for the Antarctic, Dr Sharman Stone has announced.

Dr Stone said that Ms Mitchell and Mr Griffiths were participants in the Federal Government’s Antarctic Humanities Program. They will travel with scientists and support personnel involved with two major projects — the Antarctic air link and clean up of the Thala Valley waste site — aboard Polar Bird.

“Each year the Australian Antarctic Division invites applications from people engaged in the humanities.”

“The Humanities Program provides berths on Australian Antarctic voyages for people in the humanities to experience, first hand, the beauty of Antarctica and to learn about the Australian Antarctic program,” said Dr Stone.

“Australians need to appreciate the importance of Antarctica to Australia and the valuable work we are doing there,” said Dr Stone.

“Taking writers, artists, media representatives and educators is an effective way of reaching out to the Australian community with this Antarctic message,” she said.

Jenni Mitchell said she was captivated by Antarctica during a flight over the continent last year. “There’s an indefinable magic about Antarctica and I feel very privileged to be taking this journey.” Ms Mitchell will be using several different media to record her trip to Casey including gouache, pencil and watercolour.

Tom Griffiths is writing a history of Antarctica. “Like many people I feel a strong emotional attachment to the place and to gain a better understanding of the past, I believe it’s important to be able to observe the activities and lifestyle of present-day expeditioners,” he said.

Dr Stone said that this year seven successful applicants would travel south under the AAD’s Antarctic Humanities Program.