21 Jan 2010 - FIRE & ICE: A Photographic Journey of Antarctica

Prof John Gamble prepares for his FIRE & ICE Exhibition

8 Feb 2010

John Gamble graduated from the Queen’s University of Belfast in 1970 and completed a PhD in Geology in 1973, leaving for a post in Australia in January 1974. He moved to New Zealand and Victoria University of Wellington in 1980 and was Reader in Geology there until mid 2002 when he moved back to Ireland and the Chair in Geology at UCC.


In Geology there is a longstanding connection between fieldwork and photography, the latter being a valuable asset to accurately recording geological relationships in the field and subsequently in publication. I had an interest in photography from my high school years, long before beginning my career in Geology. I bought my first SLR camera, a Pentax Spotmatic, from a pawnbroker in Belfast in the late 1960’s and it lasted until my first Antarctic season, when the extreme cold caused it to seize-up. By the way, have you ever held a geiger counter to a Super Takumar Lens? All the images in this exhibition were taken with this camera or it’s successors, an Olympus OM-1 and OM-10.

In my career, I have been lucky to work on some of the more exotic places on Earth through my research into the plumbing systems of arc-type volcanoes. These are the volcanoes that typify the “Pacific Ring of Fire” and include some of the most active and potentially hazardous on Earth, from New Zealand, Indonesia, Japan, north west USA, Chile, Argentina, and also Antarctica.

My first field season to “the ice”, in 1981/82, as part of the International North Victoria Land Expedition, a joint venture involving scientists from the USA, New Zealand, Australia, Germany and Italy, introduced me to the sheer vastness of the continent. The initial impression, in keeping with other remote places like the high mountain ranges and deserts is the scale of distance – there are none of the normal features we use to judge scales; no houses, no roads, no fences, no vegetation. As part of training for deep field deployment, I was able to spend time visiting the historic sites at Capes Evans and Royds on Ross Island from whence Scott and Shackleton launched their polar expeditions in the early 20th century. Images from these huts, field photographs and those of wildlife are the focus of this exhibition.  

In 2002 John and Frances have three grown children, Fiona in Auckland, Tom in Wellington and Mary, presently a physiotherapist in Drogheda.

The Jennings Gallery

Áiléar Jennings

College of Medicine and Health, Brookfield Health and Science Complex, College Rd, UCC