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Auction of RRS John Biscoe painting by Mike Skidmore

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Base H, Signy's Northern View (Wave Peak, Biscoe and Chinstraps too)

The original oil painting of the RRS John Biscoe was commissioned in 1991 by a friend and colleague, Dr Humphrey Smith, whom I encountered many times at our annual British Antarctic Survey Club (BAS) reunions.  The painting was completed in 1992 and has been hanging on the lounge wall of his bungalow ever since.  It shows Wave Peak on Coronation Island, part of the South Orkney Islands of the southern Scotia Sea.  The BAS supply ship RRS John Biscoe lies at anchor off Factory Cove, Signy Island, the location of the BAS Base H, (Signy Island), which was established there in 1947.

RSS Biscoe at Signy with Chinstrap penguins

Sadly Humphrey died of cancer last year, 2012, and his executors have offered the painting back to me to make arrangements for auction to a British Antarctic related charity.  They mentioned the British Antarctic Monument Trust, BAMT, which is presently raising funds to complete the erection of Southern Monument in Port Stanley, Falkland Islands as a tribute to all those who went 'south' and never returned.

In April this year, 2013, after attending the scattering of my friend's ashes on his beloved woodland at Woolhope, Herefordshire,  I was given the painting to bring home.  I contacted members of BAMT who were happy to handle the auction.  However, the original painting certainly needed cleaning up after years on my friend's lounge wall.  That was the easy part, but when this had been done, I realised, as the artist of the original work, that I was now not at all happy about the original's foreground which showed a scene of loose pack ice.

I have therefore taken a unilateral decision to re-work the foreground only, and  I have now produced, at least to my mind, a more satisfactory scene showing a number of more endearing and inquisitive chinstrap penguins on an extensive ice floe at the entrance to Factory Cove.  Also, I have now given this painting a title.

36 x 20 inches, oil on canvas 1992 (This painting has a substantial but plain 3" wooden frame making an overall size of 42 x 26 inches ) 

Mike Skidmore

There will be a silent auction at the Annual Dinner of the British Antarctic Survey Club at Alnwick on Saturday 22 June in aid of the British Antarctic Monument Trust. If you would like to place a bid for this brilliant picture please fill in a form at the dinner (or send an email to with your entry bid and your highest bid. The bidding will proceed in units of £10.00. 

Roderick Rhys Jones
Chairman, British Antarctic Monument Trust


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