Still from 'Kite Flying' (2011) Neville Gabie

Still from 'Kite Flying' (2011) Neville Gabie

Last few days: Exploring solitude: an Antarctic commission by Neville and Joan Gabie

By Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum

22 March 2012

Gardens Gallery, Montpellier Gardens, Cheltenham

until 27 March, open daily 10am to 5pm

See Cheltenham’s Gardens Gallery as you have never seen it before by entering a distinctly cold place with video installations, icy soundscapes and a highly personal e-mail and drawing exchange. Exploring Solitude: An Antarctic commission is the work of artists Neville Gabie and Joan Gabie, showing at the Gardens Gallery until March 27.

Exploring Solitude is inspired by Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum’s Antarctic collections, especially those relating to  explorer Edward Wilson, who died with Captain Scott in the Antarctic.

Stroud-based Neville Gabie is currently the artist in residence for the Olympic Delivery Authority. He was artist in residence for the British Antarctic Survey/Arts Council Artists in Antarctica programme in 2008/9 where he filmed his experiences exploring apparently simple acts such as kite flying and moving blocks of snow.

Commissioned as part of the New Expressions programme, Exploring Solitude has created these videos in a new final form, including one large scale work. Also part of the show is E-mailing Antarctica, a collaborative work made with Joan Gabie, Neville’s wife. This combines Neville’s e-mails to Joan from the Antarctic and her drawings in response. These works relate to items in the Art Gallery & Museum’s Wilson Family Archive, also shown in the exhibition: a copy of Wilson’s penultimate letter to his wife written as he lies dying and a telegram sent by his wife back to Cheltenham from New Zealand where she waits for him; she writes he is ‘exceeding fit’ when in fact he is already dead.

Gabie found looking at the museum's Edward Wilson archive developed his thoughts on his Antarctic work. It led a new focus on the string that features in his atmospheric film of kite flying but is also a vital component of Antarctic activities, from pulling sledges across glaciers to harnessing men together, becoming a symbol for the fragility of life in this environment.

An exhibition of the commission and other work is open at the Gardens Gallery, Montpellier Gardens, Cheltenham until 27 March, open daily 10am to 5pm.