George Marston played a significant role in two of Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic expeditions, the Nimrod and the Endurance. As the official artist illustrating the accounts of the expeditions he demonstrated an unusual mix of courage and creativity and participated in the heroic age of Antarctic exploration.
George Marston was born at Southsea on 19 March 1882, where he lived until moving to London to study art. In 1907 Marston joined Shackleton’s Nimrod expedition, which would get within 97 miles of the South Pole, and created illustrations to accompany a book about the expedition, Aurora Australis.
In 1914 George Marston was one of the first people Shackleton signed up for the ill-fated Endurance expedition. Marston’s practical and artistic skills came to the fore during a series of ordeals, firstly as the ship became trapped in the ice and subsequently as the team was forced to survive extreme conditions awaiting rescue. During this time Marston produced some great artworks depicting the surroundings.
After his homecoming Marston taught at Bedales School in Steep near Petersfield. In 1923 he gave up teaching and joined the newly-created Rural Industries Bureau. In 1934 he became Director and played a major role in the national initiative to regenerate small rural craft-based industry. Initially establishing a small workshop at Rings Green Farm, Froxfield, his work was later based in both London and Somerset. Marston died in Somerset in 1940.