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In 1611, while on an expedition to find the North-West Passage, explorer Henry Hudson and his son were cast adrift by his mutinous crew. Their fate was unknown but raised the taboo of cannibalism. Collier hints at this by posing Hudson, eerily staring out at the viewer like Dante’s ‘Ugolino’ by Joshua Reynolds, 1773. Incarcerated with his sons, Ugolino eats them to survive, although the act is futile and all eventually die. Here the vast, Arctic landscape remains impassive to a terrifying human drama. Collier’s audience noted its relevance to ongoing Arctic explorations and the search for the North-West Passage.

July 2010