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Week-long celebration of explorer Edward Wilson's birthday

Where: The Wilson, Cheltenham

When: Tuesday, July 23, to Saturday, July 27

The birthday of Edward Wilson will be celebrated at The Wilson, Cheltenham's premier Art Gallery & Museum, next week with a week of activities and events.

Edward Adrian Wilson was an English physician, polar explorer, natural historian, ornithologist and artist. Tuesday, July 23, will mark 147 years since his birth in Montpellier Parade, Cheltenham.

He is best known for accompanying Captain Scott on his infamous voyage on board the Terra Nova in June 1910 to try and reach the South Pole, a feat no one had ever done before.

Wilson was one of five men chosen to make the journey. They set out from the Antarctic coast in November 1911, and arrived at the Pole on 17 January 1912, only to discover that the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen had reached it a month before.

Their journey back was dogged by terrible weather, food and fuel shortages, and sickness. By mid-March, two of the party had died, and the remaining three, including Wilson, were marooned in their tent by a nine-day blizzard. There they died, during the last days of March 1912, their bodies being discovered eight months later, on 12 November 1912.

The Wilson holds a collection of original objects, watercolour paintings and authentic specimens that chart not only the expeditions that Wilson became known for but also the achievements that he made throughout his life.

Some of those objects tell remarkable stories, such as the frozen honey that he took with him to the Antarctic from his home on his family farm in Leckhampton and that safely returned to his home town, through to the second-last letter he penned to his wife from the South Pole with the words telling her that he wouldn't return.

The Trust is inviting everyone to come and find out more about this remarkable man and his story at The Wilson this July as we embark on a programme of events in the lead up to his 150th birthday in 2022.

Birthday Cake, Free

Tuesday, July 23

The Wilson café

Come and enjoy some complimentary birthday cake at The Wilson! Available from The Wilson café all day.

Nature Notebooks Object Talk, £5/ £3

Thursday, July 25, 6pm

Open Archive, The Wilson

Join Ann-Rachael Harwood, curator of the Wilson Family Collection, to celebrate Edward Wilson's birthday with a remarkable insight into The Nature Notebooks, a collection of some of the explorer's earliest drawings and paintings. The notebooks show his love of the hills and woods around Cheltenham; his increasingly scientific approach to recording wildlife, and his development as an artist. The talk will be fully illustrated with images from the rarely seen Nature Notebooks, and there will also be an opportunity to look at some of the original pages on display in the Open Archive.

Nature Trail Workshops, £3 per child

Friday, July 26, 10:30am -12:30pm

Saturday, July 27, 10:30am-12:30pm & 1:30pm-3:30pm

The Foyle Learning Centre, The Wilson

Come and help us celebrate our local artist and explorer's birthday week at The Wilson. Family art and nature workshops for all ages, inspired by Edward Wilson's Nature Notebooks. Develop sketching and watercolour skills in preparation for creating your own work for public display at the end of the summer. Children must be accompanied by parent/carer.

Create Your Own Nature Notebook, Free

Summer Holiday Challenge. The Nature Notebooks are a scrapbook of drawings and paintings by Edward Adrian Wilson, gathered together and mounted by his father. They span the period from his childhood right up until 1910 when he set off on his second, and as it proved to be the last, expedition to the Antarctic. They include illustrations of plants, birds, animals, fish and insects from the hills, and woods and streams around Cheltenham, the home town he loved.

Why not create your own nature notebook this summer? Take part in our competitions and submit your notebook in one of four categories with a chance to win a spot in your very own exhibition at The Wilson!

Hand in your finished Nature Notebook to the Wilson front desk by Friday 23rd August.

Enter in one of the following categories: Adults/ Children/ Under 16/ Family

Submissions will be judged by a panel and short-listed entries will be exhibited for public display at The Wilson Art Gallery and museum from 27th August-1st September. There will be a public event for Nature Notebook artists and gallery visitors to enjoy the short-listed entries, alongside material from Edward Wilson's own Nature Notebooks on August 29, 6-7pm.

For more information, visit 

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