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Lorde on Antarctica: Thrilling and intense... but eerie

By Annabel Rackham
Newsbeat reporter

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  • Climate change
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For centuries, the continent of Antarctica has fascinated artists and poets as well as intrepid explorers.

And now, with climate change putting it right at the centre of the global debate, that's more true than ever.

The singer and activist Ella Yelich-O'Connor  - better known to most of us as Lorde - has become the latest creative to be inspired by the frozen continent.

She's publishing a book of writing and photographs of her trip there.

It also kick-started her work on the follow up to Melodrama: "Antarctica really acted as this great white palette cleanser, a sort of celestial foyer I had to move through in order to start making the next thing."

In a message to her mailing list subscribers entitled An Alternate Realm, Lorde says Antarctica has fascinated her since she was old enough to read.

image copyrightGetty Images

"It started to interest me again in recent years as my environmental awareness went up and up, and questions about how to change my personal and professional footprints on this earth occupied much of my time."

Andy Stevenson-Jones works at the Rothera Station in Antarctica as an electrical engineer.

"I'm responsible for the science instruments here measuring climate, the effect that sun radiation has on the earth," he tells Radio 1 Newsbeat. "So my job is to keep the instruments running over the year and install new ones."

He says he thinks celebrities taking trips to the continent is great because it raises awareness of what it's actually like.

"Although I reckon a celebrity's experience will be quite different to mine when I'm living and working here," he says.

"It's a real privilege and a really special place to be."

That's why Lorde's gone to ice land

Lorde's trip took place last year, hosted by the organisation Antarctica New Zealand. And the singer clearly found it a challenge as well as an inspiration.

In an article for Metro magazine in her native New Zealand, she wrote that "being in Antarctica isn't always fun, exactly.

"It's so clearly not an environment fit for humans to inhabit. The sheer effort it takes me to stay alive for five days while the continent does its best to expel me is exhausting."

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionLorde, pictured here in warmer climes

"My eyes never adjust to the flat whiteness or the gnarly mirage duplicating the mountains over and over on the horizon. There's often an eerie lack of sound - no whisper of breeze, nothing for it to blow through."

"It's thrilling and spiritually intense, but as the days go on, I find it hard to shake the thought that I really shouldn't be here."

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Lorde's not the only singer who's found inspiration at the bottom of the world.

Ed Sheeran loved the frozen continent so much he famously named his baby after it.

image copyrightGetty Images

Lyra Antarctica Seaborn Sheeran was born in August - Ed and his wife had travelled to Antarctica during the previous year.

But what is it actually like to live there?

Andy says it's not that bad... despite the winter months featuring very little sunlight.

"The biggest change has gone from having normal days and nights - where I am it's not that cold, it's -1C but can get down to -30C," he says.

"I've got used to it being a bit colder and it will be a surprise when I come home and realise I can walk around in a T-shirt and shorts. I'm quite looking forward to that actually!"

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