The first attempts to summit Everest are amongst the most well-known stories during the age of empire. In 1922, and then again 1924, a group of British climbers set off to ‘conquer’ the world’s highest peak – Mount Everest. Two of them, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, died in their attempt to reach the summit. The pair were hailed as heroes who embodied all that was believed to be ‘great’ about ‘Great Britain’. It was a story that captured the public’s imagination for decades and cast Mallory and Irvine as two of the Empire’s greatest adventure heroes.
100 years later, this exhibition re-examines the story. It looks at the climbs through the lens of Captain John Noel’s films and photography. As the official cinematographer and a pioneer of expeditionary filmmaking, Noel’s films helped create the hero narrative around the climbs. This exhibition goes behind the scenes of his two earliest films, Climbing Mount Everest (1922) and The Epic of Everest (1924), to unpick the uncomfortable and complex social, racial and geopolitical dynamics that shaped the expeditions – from their beginning to enduring legacy.
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