Stephen Mushin Takes E-idea to Antarctica

Sliverbeet harvest, Stephen Muchin, 2011

Melbourne based ‘E-idealist’ designer and artist Stephen Mushin has set sail with a team of team of scientists, environmentalists and entrepreneurs on the International Antarctic Expedition (IAE) 2012 led by polar explorer and environmental leader Robert Swan.

During the 16-day expedition, Mushin will study the continent’s fragile ecosystem and unique wildlife and assess the viability of adapting the self-sustaining aquaponics farming system he is co-developing in Melbourne for the E-base research station on King George Island in the Antarctic Peninsula.

“I expect to learn a lot about Antarctic ecology and marine systems which will feed into my E-idea project,” said Stephen, referring to his aquaponics system which he is developing through a British Council and Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance (LRQA) programme also known as Big Green Idea.


silverbeet harvest 2011

silverbeet harvest 2011

“There are already many hydroponic systems in Antarctica – including one designed by NASA – but no aquaponic systems due to strict quarantine controls on importing live fish,” Mushin says. “However I propose developing a salt water system which farms Antarctic Krill (to eat) and Edible Seaweeds. Such a system would enable the E-base to be self sufficient in food as well as renewable energy and would be an exciting demonstration of Antarctic ecology.”

“LRQA are delighted to be supporting Stephen on this significant adventure,” says Simon Batters, LRQA Project Director for E-idea. “Stephen won his place, which was open to all 40 E-idea 2011 Project leaders, after making a compelling application for his role and contribution to the expedition. We wish Stephen and all those travelling to Antarctica a safe and successful trip and look forward to the outputs with keen anticipation.”

Mushin will also draw on his experiences in Antarctica to complete the graphic novel he is illustrating which is set on the continent and begins with the disintegration of Larson B ice-shelf, a 3250km2 chunk of ice, owing to the effects of climate change. Mushin will chronicle the journey through video and film and has been approached by the film production house infinity² who have proposed to do a documentary about him as part of a series on multidisciplinary designers.

Mushin is participating in the 16-day expedition thanks to funding provided by Lloyd’s Register Group.

Held on the centenary year of British explorer’s Robert Scott’s heroic and ill-fated journey to the South Pole, the expedition will depart from Ushaia, Argentina and sail via the Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula. As the ship – Sea Spirit – sails south, experts on the environment, climate change, and sustainable development will give presentations on the wildlife, geology, history and geography of the Antarctic Peninsula, and Robert Swan will deliver his personal leadership and sustainability programme “Leadership on the Edge.”

Once they reach the Antarctic Peninsula, Mushin and his shipmates will board inflatable zodiacs to cruise along spectacular ice shelves, follow whales feeding near the surface and make numerous shore landings in such sites as Cuverville Island, which is home to some 40,000 penguins.

Expedition leader Robert Swan is the first person to walk to both the North and South poles. He has dedicated his life to the preservation of Antarctica by promoting recycling, renewable energy and sustainability to combat the effects of climate change through his 2041 project and public-speaking activities.

Aquaponic system

Aquaponic system

“It is our mission to inform, engage and inspire the next generation of leaders to take responsibility, be sustainable, and know that now is the time for action in policy development, sustainable business generation and future technologies,” says Swan. “The IAE will inspire [the participants] to return home and create change on the personal level, the community level, the corporate and beyond.”

Antarctica holds 90% of the world’s ice and 70% of the world’s fresh water, but says Swan, “Scientists forecast significant warming and reduction of sea ice surrounding Antarctica over the 21st century, all of which will contribute to rising sea levels and climate change.”

“We are delighted that Stephen has been selected to join the International Antarctic Expedition as it will enable him to conduct important research on his E-idea aquaponics farming project which has great potential for development in Australia and in the Pacific Islands and could one day make Antarctic research stations self sufficient in food and renewable energy,” says Nick Marchand, Director British Council Australia.

To view video on Stephen Mushin and aquaponics click here