Franklin's Expedition

10th November 2018 to 30th November 2018

It is 1854 and two converted Men O’ War, H.M.S. Terror and H.M.S. Erebus, under the command of experienced expedition leader Sir John Franklin, enter the northern polar ice in an attempt to find a navigable passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific. They know that they will have to over-winter trapped in ice until Spring, when they expect to push through melting ice and find the legendary North West Passage. 134 Officers and men in well-equipped vessels enter the ice pack and virtually disappear. No one ever sees them again, though the local Inuit people, who have no written language, tell stories of desperate, starving, bearded white men wandering on the ice. There are awful stories of that last taboo being broken – it’s highly likely that, in extremis, the lost crew had resorted to cannibalism. Dr John Rae, an Orcadian and expert on the Lands of the Arctic, is first to suggest that the unthinkable has occurred. His reports are met with derision and hostility in Britain – no British man would ever stoop so low as to indulge in cannibalism – Rae is ostracised, though recent evidence from various finds would support his theory. Fascinated by the story and by the recent reports by the Canadian Authorities that both ships had been located on the sea-bottom, artist David Lloyd has produced a series of paintings attempting to capture the horror of being lost in darkness with no hope of rescue.  This exhibition has been extended through November