When Liam Bowden designed Deadly Ponies’ latest capsule collection, his inspiration came from somewhere unexpected. The label’s co-founder and creative director delved over 100 years into the past, drawing on a deep respect for the work of the late Australian photographer James Francis “Frank” Hurley.

During his career, Hurley visited Antarctica several times. He travelled to the continent in 1911 with the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, led by geologist and explorer Douglas Mawson, and again when he was selected as the official photographer and filmmaker for Sir Ernest Shackleton’s famous 1914–1917 expedition.

Bowden came across Hurley’s Antarctic photographs two years ago, and striking images from the Mawson expedition have been digitally printed on the accessories that form the capsule, part of Deadly Ponies’ wider autumn/winter collection. The pieces are available in-store from today.

“I was drawn to his ability to catch a moment in time, a glimpse into an untouched world,” Bowden tells Broadsheet. “The imagery I found was scientific but also had this raw, artistic side. When discussing our autumn/winter collection, I kept going back to [the] images I had found earlier that year. His images related to the textures and hues of a winter collection, but also the idea of the early explorer.”

Bowden got in touch with members of Hurley’s estate and worked with them to select the images they felt best represented his work. The estate then worked to scan the original photographs into digital copies, provided to Deadly Ponies for the capsule.

On the Blizzard scarf is a famous image of one of the husky dogs on Mawson’s expedition. The Bowman bag depicts the ice-encrusted face of pioneering meteorologist Cecil Madigan, and a lone figure walks in a frozen cavern on the Poucheroo bag.

Each image reveals the harshness of the environment but also the life temporarily found there, while the rugged, snowy scenes contrast with the label’s refined aesthetic. Deadly Ponies makes sure the prints are long lasting by using an “elastic” ink that is designed to move with the leather, rather than crack.

The penguin-shaped Emperor Charm and the Mr Emperor bag were modelled on the idea of a soft toy, whimsical and easy to wear. “Each bag has been handcrafted using 29 pieces of leather and incorporates our classic leather with an ombre print,” says Bowden.

The penguin designs also serve as an important message, as any conversation about Antarctica entails an acknowledgment of climate change. “The flipside of our appreciation for the magnificence of Antarctica is being conscious of the impact of global warming,” Bowden says. “We wanted to play our part and give back to this beautiful place.”

Having recently discovered the Antarctic Science Foundation, Bowden felt its Penguin Pursuits program was the perfect partner for Deadly Ponies’ penguin-shaped pieces.

“The foundation’s CEO, Andrew Kelly, kindly gave up some of this time to speak with us about the plight of the penguins and the work his team are doing to research how these penguins are adapting to climate change,” he says. “Off the back of that insightful conversation, we pledged to donate 100 per cent of profits from the sales of our Mr Emperor [bag] and Emperor Charm to Penguin Pursuits, and are encouraging anyone who can to donate too.”

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