FRANK HURLEY (1885-1962)

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ROYAL PENGUINS ON NUGGET'S BEACH, MACQUAIRE ISLAND, 1911 by FRANK HURLEY (1885-1962) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

ROYAL PENGUINS ON NUGGET'S BEACH, MACQUAIRE ISLAND, 1911

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SEA ELEPHANT AND HAREM, SOUTH GEORGIA, 1914 by FRANK HURLEY (1885-1962) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

SEA ELEPHANT AND HAREM, SOUTH GEORGIA, 1914

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A LOADED SLEDGE, PATIENCE CAMP, CIRCA 1916 by FRANK HURLEY (1885-1962) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

A LOADED SLEDGE, PATIENCE CAMP, CIRCA 1916

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OCEAN CAMP, 1915 by FRANK HURLEY (1885-1962) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

OCEAN CAMP, 1915

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FRANK HURLEY AND WRITER MASLYN WILLIAMS LOOKING ACROSS THE VALLEY OF JEHO, CIRCA 1941 by FRANK HURLEY (1885-1962) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

FRANK HURLEY AND WRITER MASLYN WILLIAMS LOOKING ACROSS THE VALLEY OF JEHO, CIRCA 1941

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HIGH FLAT BERG, 1914 by FRANK HURLEY (1885-1962) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

HIGH FLAT BERG, 1914

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SNOW CAPPED PEAKS, SOUTH GEORGIA, CIRCA 1917 by FRANK HURLEY (1885-1962) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

SNOW CAPPED PEAKS, SOUTH GEORGIA, CIRCA 1917

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PANORAMA OF OCEAN CAMP, 1915 by FRANK HURLEY (1885-1962) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

PANORAMA OF OCEAN CAMP, 1915

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DRIFTING ICE, SOUTH GEORGIA, PART OF HAMBERG GLACIER, CIRCA 1917 by FRANK HURLEY (1885-1962) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

DRIFTING ICE, SOUTH GEORGIA, PART OF HAMBERG GLACIER, CIRCA 1917

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THE MIST SHROUDED PEAKS AT CAPE WILD, CIRCA 1917 by FRANK HURLEY (1885-1962) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

THE MIST SHROUDED PEAKS AT CAPE WILD, CIRCA 1917

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THE DE GEER GLACIER, SOUTH GEORGIA, CIRCA 1917 by FRANK HURLEY (1885-1962) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

THE DE GEER GLACIER, SOUTH GEORGIA, CIRCA 1917

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KING EDWARD COVE, SOUTH GEORGIA, CIRCA 1917 by FRANK HURLEY (1885-1962) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

KING EDWARD COVE, SOUTH GEORGIA, CIRCA 1917

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THE ICE HATH ITS FLOWERS, CIRCA 1917 by FRANK HURLEY (1885-1962) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

THE ICE HATH ITS FLOWERS, CIRCA 1917

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PATIENCE CAMP, 1916 by FRANK HURLEY (1885-1962) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

PATIENCE CAMP, 1916

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Men wanted: for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.' Supposedly written by the explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton to recruit members for his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (ITAE), the ensuing adventure aimed to be the first to cross the Antarctic ice cap by foot but the team's ill fortune and resulting feats of astonishing courage made it one of the most famous in history. Like many others, Frank Hurley was taken by the allure of the unknown promised by the expedition and his photographs taken on the ITAE offered the public some of the earliest insights into the landscapes and wildlife of the mysterious continent.

Hurley was born in 1885 in the Sydney inner-city suburb of Glebe to a working-class family. His father, Edward Harrison Hurley, was an English printer and trade union official. Hurley was uninterested by school and did not attend regularly. He longed to travel and ran away when he was 13 to work in a steel mill in Lithgow. Returning home two years later he worked in the Telegraph Department, it was here that he discovered his talent for photography. Having bought a Kodak box camera he went into the postcard business in 1905, earning a reputation for the quality of his work and also the dangers he took to capture dramatic images. This fearlessness was exemplified when he jumped onto the rails in front of a speeding train in order to photograph it.

In 1911 Hurley undertook his first major expedition as the official photographer for Sir Douglas Mawson's Australasian Antarctic Expedition. Over the two years that Hurley participated in the expedition he worked in extreme conditions to shoot both still photographs and film footage of the magnificent polar landscape. After returning to Sydney Hurley travelled to Java before then going back to Antarctica to rescue Mawson whose team was stranded.

Hurley went back to Antarctica in 1914 as part of Shackleton's famous expedition. The expedition stalled when its ship, Endurance, became impacted in the frozen Weddell Sea, trapping the team for the winter. The marooned ship drifted a thousand miles north until the thaw of the following spring crushed and sank it. Although Hurley's attempts to photograph were hindered by the difficult weather conditions, he managed to capture the spectacular moment that the ship sank, having waited for the moment on the ice with his camera for three days. As the team abandoned ship, Shackleton told Hurley to leave all his equipment and film behind but the photographer disobeyed and took his glass plate negatives, his previously developed cinema film, a small Kodak camera and three rolls of unexposed film. 400 glass plates were left behind. With little other choice the team undertook a hazardous voyage in three small lifeboats to the uninhabited Elephant Island. Shackleton then took a small party in one of the lifeboats, James Caird, across 1,500 kilometres of the Southern Ocean to the remote island of South Georgia before returning to rescue Hurley and the rest of the party on Elephant Island with the Chilean naval ship, Yelcho, four months later. Hurley's images that survived the expedition are full of the drama and menace with which the men must have viewed the alien landscape.

In 1917 Hurley became the official photographer of the Australian Imperial Force during its participation in the war in France and Belgium. Taking the rank of honorary captain, Hurley won respect amongst the Australian soldiers for the characteristic bravery with which he sought to capture the reality of the war along the Western Front. Interestingly, Hurley took the controversial step of making composite images with several negatives spliced together to heighten the dramatic effect. In the 1920s Hurley would continue his adventures in the Middle East where he married Antoinette Rosalind Leighton after a ten-day courtship. He took trips to the Torres Strait Islands and Papua to make films, many of which were very commercially successful. Hurley returned to Australia in his later life and shifted his focus back to still photography. He continued to travel and spent his time lecturing and writing until his death in 1962.

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