Portraits of Adventure

The bad news is that a breathtaking exhibition entitled Portraits of Adventure, held at the Royal Geographical Society in London, ended on August 3rd. The good news, however, is that the 60 photographs from the exhibition, staged to celebrate Land Rover's 60th anniversary, appear in a luxurious coffee table book for the ridiculously low price of £25. But more on that later.

The exhibition included 50 rarely-seen archive images from leading landscape, portrait and travel photographers, among them dramatic action portraits of Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Marilyn Monroe, a New York cab driver, a group of UN peacekeepers, and so on. While many of the pictures had some link to Land Rover products, this was by no means always the case: instead, the theme which united each one was an embodiment of the spirit of adventure.

A further 10 images were specially commissioned for the exhibition from leading British photographer Alastair Thain. At four metres high, these formed a collection of the largest framed photographic portraits in the world (taken using a similar big-format ultra-high definition camera to those that NASA employed to photograph the Earth from space).

The subjects of these portraits represented the ‘epitome of what it means to be adventurous’ and included Desmond Tutu, royal athlete Zara Phillips, marine explorer Fabien Cousteau and the first African American woman in space, Dr Mae Jemison.

Admission to the exhibition was free, although visitors were able to make a donation to the British Red Cross. The same charity also benefits from an (unspecified) donation from the sale of the Portraits of Adventure book.

In his foreword to the volume, Sir Ranulph Fiennes writes: “Adventure comes in all shapes and sizes… and this book celebrates adventure in its many forms. There are clergymen and charity workers, photographers and film stars, mine clearers and prime ministers. Each of their extraordinary journeys is celebrated.” The Portraits of Adventure book retails for £25 and is available from the Stanfords Book Store in Covent Garden, or via www.stanfords.co.uk or www.amazon.co.uk.

Text: Charis Whitcombe
Photos: Land Rover

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