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Travels with the Director

Tea growing in the hills of Rwanda cloak the hills in ‘emerald velvet’ Tea growing in the hills of Rwanda cloak the hills in ‘emerald velvet’ Rita Gardner
08 Dec
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.

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.

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.

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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