Twenty one years, sixteen countries, seven continents... RGS-IBG director, Rita Gardner, unveils vivid images from her own geographical travels around the world
Director of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) since 1996, Dr Rita Gardner CBE could never be accused of abandoning her own dedication to exploring the world while serving in the prestigious post. As she counts down the days until taking her retirement from the RGS-IBG in April 2018, a new exhibition, Travels with the Director, reveals highlights from Gardner’s own recent explorations, camera in hand, during those moments when she was able to take leave from Lowther Lodge.
- The ‘blue’ city of Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India (Image: Rita Gardner)
- Early evening light turns a barchan dune to shades of deep orange, Ubari Erg (sand sea), southern Libya (Image: Rita Gardner)
- Giant lily pads on a tributary of the Essequibo river, Guyana (Image: Rita Gardner)
- Aerial view of transverse, coalesced sand dunes, in late afternoon sunlight near Walvis Bay, Namibia (Image: Rita Gardner)
- Low cloud hangs over icebergs in the bay, Frederick Sound, southeast Alaska (Image: Rita Gardner)
- Remnant rock buttes, all that’s left after erosion in the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, southwest USA (Image: Rita Gardner)
Perhaps most striking is the variety of photographs on display in the exhibition. With true dedication to the overwhelmingly broad spectrum that geography covers, Gardner unveils shots depicting a wide variety of landscapes across the planet. From the colourful and vibrant villages of Rajasthan, Western India, and the lush Colobus monkey-inhabited Nyungwe Forest of Rwanda, we travel to the diverse marine life of the Ningaloo coral reef, Western Australia, and a soberingly poignant journey through the crumbly yet beautiful architecture of Libya.
- Approaching the central, covered heart of Ghadames old city, a site settled sine prehistoric times, western Libya (Image: Rita Gardner)
- Shortly before a mock charge, a mountain gorilla silverback in the Virunga Mountains, Rwanda (Image: Rita Gardner)
- Dhow sailing into the evening sun, Chole lagoon, Mafia Island, Tanzania (Image: Rita Gardner)
- Eagle hunter riding with his female golden eagle at the Altai festival, western Mongolia (Image: Rita Gardner)
- Kaieteur Falls, the longest single drop in the world, Guyana (Image: Rita Gardner)
- Beautiful relief detail of the crocodile god, Sobek, to whom part of the temple was dedicated; Kom Ombo Temple (built 180-47BC), Nile Valley, Egypt (Image: Rita Gardner)
Perhaps most significantly, the emphasis of these photographs covers everything from cultures to wildlife to landscapes, with no strong bias towards either human or physical geography. It’s an apt testamony to Gardner’s own academic career as a geomorphologist and Quaternary scientist, which would often involve living with and learning from local people in some of the most remote corners of the world.
- Elephant going to great heights to reach food, Botswana (Image: Rita Gardner)
- Zebra en echelon at a water hole in the Etosha National Park, northern Namibia (Image: Rita Gardner)
- A group of 13 humpback whales bubble-net feeding, Frederick Sound, Alaska (Image: Rita Gardner)
- Northern lights over the Lofoten Islands, Arctic Norway (Image: Rita Gardner)
- The busy fishing port of Svolvaer in winter, a centre of the seasonal cod and herring industries in the Lofoten Islands, Norway (Image: Rita Gardner)
- Just friends! Two marine iguanas with the red colouring endemic only to Espaniola island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador (Image: Rita Gardner)
Gardner’s achievements over the past two decades and more include overseeing over 16,000 RGS-IBG members and fellows and raising over £35million to fund developments at the Society, yet this exhibition is a reminder of how exporation can be accomplished simultaneously to such demanding work. Whisking visitors around the world from Norway’s stunning Northern Lights to the hidden villages in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains to the dramatic icy scenery of the West Antarctic Peninsula, this is an upbeat and thoroughly enjoyable celebration with which to sign off.
Travels with the Director is on display at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) until 24 January, 2018. Free entry.
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