Syllavethy Gallery


Sir Wally Herbert

Artist and Polar Explorer

Endurance in Winter (Shackleton's ship beset in Weddell Sea)-based on Hurley

Jumping Bear-Polar bear jumping a tide crack (Oils)


Wally Herbert is a polar explorer of international distinction-"The greatest polar explorer of our time" according to Sir Ranulf Fiennes; a "phenomenon" according to Lord Shackleton, and a man whose "determination and courage" according to HRH Prince Charles, "are of such heroic proportions that his country should mark his achievements eventually by having him stuffed and put on display!"

During the course of his polar career (which now spans more than 45 years), he has spent 15 years in the wilderness regions of the polar world, and travelled with dog teams and open boats well over 25,000 miles- more than half of that distance through unexplored areas that no human being had set foot on before.

In the Antarctic in the late 1950's and early 60's he mapped some 46,000 square miles of new country and came within only 200 miles of achieving his first great burning ambition of reaching the South pole with sledges and dogs. Since then he has sledged several thousands of miles with some of the finest long range hunters of the world's most northerly Inuit tribe; retraced the routes of some of the greatest explorers in history- Shackleton, Scott and Amundsen in the Antarctic; Peary, Sverdrup and Cook in the Arctic - and earned his own place in polar history with his "epic" 3,800 mile treck - the first surface crossing of the Arctic Ocean, which most historians now record as "the last great journey on earth".

That 16 month journey (in 1968-9) from Alaska to Spitsbergen via The Pole of Inaccessibility and the North Pole was hailed by Prime Minister, Harald Wilson, as "a feat of endurance and courage which ranks with any in polar history", and an achievement, in the opinion of HRH Prince Philip, "which ranks among the greatest triumphs of human skill and endurance."

No longer is there any question that he and his three companions were the first to reach the North Pole on foot. Nor is there any question that of the three last "Geographical Firsts" (the trilogy of the first ascent of Everest and the first Surface crossing of the South and North Poles) the longest and most hazardous was the latter. It should also be noted that no-one in the past thirty years has ever repeated or attempted to repeat, their truly remarkable journey.

In recognition of his work in the field of exploration he has received a string of honours and awards, among them the Polar Medal and Bar, the gold medals of several geographical societies, and the highest honour of the Explorers club-The coveted Explorers Medal. He was knighted on the last day of the old Millenium as one of the "Icons" of the 20th Century, and is presently the only living Knight of the Realm who has recieved the accolade: "for services to polar exploration". By this honour he has joined the ranks of polar Knights which dates back over 400 years- from the Elizabethan "pirate" Sir Francis Drake, and on through Frobisher and the Royal Navy Knights to that charismatic leader of men, the great Sir Ernest Shackleton.

He has a Mountain Range and a Plateaux named after him in the Antarctic; the most Northerly mountain in Svalbard named after him in the Arctic; a star named after him in the constellation of Ursa Minor (the nearest star to Polaris), and besides being an explorer with entries in "Who's Who in the World", the encyclopedias and "The Guinness Book of Records", he is also a prize winning author with nine books so far to his credit- and an ARTIST who has had one man shows in London, Sydney and New York.

True it was only a recent discovery that he has an untrained "gift" for painting and has, in a sense, been an artist in waiting for well over 40 years of his life. But his 15 years in the polar world prepared and honed him for this work. Even his journey accross the North Pole (that successfull conquest of the unknown) was, at a personal level, a spiritual bonding with the polar wilds-an awakening of the soul. His paintings are an expression of this- a search for that balance, that mystical key- and with two of his works now owned by the Royals and the rest by "investors" all over the world, now is the time to see his work!!!

As all of Sir Wally’s paintings have been sold, we provide photographic reproduction, unframed, signed by the artist.

These exclusive Photographic Reproductions are sold through Syllavethy Gallery

To view these click HERE.