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The British Antartic Survey has appointed young British writer, Melanie Challenger, as Artist in Residence for International Polar Year 2007-8. She will live in the Antarctic for three months, working alongside the scientists in the region and gaining access to regions of the Antarctic totally closed to the general public. She will stay on board the RSS James Clark Ross.

This appointment comes at a particularly significant stage in global polar and environmental research. She will be writing a prose book Extinction which will narrate her epic voyage alongside the cycles of extinction affecting human society and culture and the equilibrium of our planet. Antarctica’s physical and emotional power has inspired generations of artists and she will narrate sights of rare privilege as a young woman placed in an awesome and dangerous backdrop.

She will depart in October 2007 with the British Antarctic Survey team, journeying from Falkland Islands to South Georgia, and onwards to the Antarctica, where she will travel to the deep field sites of the continent. Here, she will witness the global scientific effort to understand what has happened to our planet and what the future might hold.

Melanie Challenger won the 2005 Society of Author’s Eric Gregory Award for poetry and has been nominated for the Forward Poetry Prize for best first collection. She has been involved in social activism and education since 2000, which has included her adaptation of the Anne Frank diaries for an oratorio by James Whitbourn, and an ongoing collaboration with Bosnian war diarist, Zlata Filipovic for Stolen Voices (Viking Penguin: 2006), a project on young people in conflict. She and Filipovic have spoken publicly across the US and UK in diverse settings from major universities to high schools, the World Affairs Council, the United Nations, and the Washington Senate, to the United States Institute for Peace. They received the 2006 Attaway Professorships in Civic Culture. She is honorary director of New York’s Harold Clurman Center for Poetry, Poetic Language and the Spoken Word, and divides her time between Penzance, Cornwall and Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from Oxford University with a degree in English Literature and Language in 2000.

The Artists and Writers Programme — sponsored jointly by British Antarctic Survey and Arts Council England — offers two artists and writers each year an opportunity to spend the austral summer in the Antarctic. Through their visual art, music, poetry and prose, artists and writers help British Antarctic Survey communicate the global importance of Antarctic science to a wider audience.

3 September 2007


Clare Adams
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