A tour of @Sohoplace with Nica Burns


Descendant of Sir Ernest Shackleton composes music on a fiddle made from the Antarctic explorer’s planks

A descendant of Ernest Shackleton spent a week composing music on a fiddle made from the Antarctic explorer’s planks. Georgia Shackleton, 35, is a professional musician who performs with the folk group Shackleton Trio. She is a distant relative of Anglo-Irish explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, who led three British expeditions and died in 1922. In 2018, she came into contact with a craftsman who had made a violin from planks in the he former home of the famous explorer in Edinburgh where he lived from 1904 to 1910. Georgia spent a week in Crail, Fife, living in a remote cottage and composing music inspired by the sea. The violin bears the names of 28 members of crew aboard the Endurance Expedition, as well as a poem about the sea. Driftwood from the beaches of East Lothian was also used to create the instrument made by luthier Steve Burnett. Georgia, who lives in Norwich, Norfolk, said: “Shacklewood is a distant cousin on the family tree. “Playing that violin is a truly amazing feeling, there’s really no way to describe it. “Being so connected to someone so special anyway, but also someone you’re connected to through the family tree. “It was really amazing to play the instrument last week. “I picked him up on Friday morning, I contacted Steve a few years ago to ask if I could come and play him one day.” He kindly agreed to lend it to me for a week to make music on it. “It’s been fantastic. “We’ve met before when I was playing in the area. “He did a really special job.” Georgia also visited the RRS Discovery ship in Dundee, which her ancestor used in 1901 to reach Antarctica, and was able to sit in the cabin. His project is funded by the Canada Council. Georgia said: “Staying in Fife to make music is the perfect place to make music inspired by the coast. “The music I write is music from the sea. “I overlook the sea from the window of the cottage. “I am here alone but there are many beautiful dogs passing by. “The instrument Steve made comes from the floorboards of Shackleton’s Edinburgh home and driftwood from the beaches.” Inside are the names of all 28 crew members of Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition. “It’s like a time capsule. “20 years ago, driftwood was found and Steve built another instrument from the driftwood. “The Discovery was the first ship Shackleton went on a trip for, and I was able to sit in the cabin. “It was great playing it on the Discovery.”

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