In memory of Natalie Gillis


Writing this post is a strange decision to me. I didn’t have the opportunity to meet Natalie, I never texted her on social media but her passing away last week kind of impressed me as their Arctic and Antarctic photos impressed me from the first sight. 


Natalie Gillis was a pilot, photographer and writer, “lover of high altitude and high latitude wilderness areas”. Her photos of extreme environments translate the passion for these areas and its wildlife. The deep shadows, both in black and white and colour photos, and some minimalist compositions, portrays the beauty of almost monotonic environments while conveying a profound respect and admiration for the vastness and human emptiness of the polar regions. 


When I first saw her Instagram, back in June 2022, I was amazed with one particular photo from Antartica called “Morningstar”. Its colours, serenity and calm waters, so calm that reflects the shiny star, give me a sense of peace, silence and cosiness. Antarctica is my holy grail and this photo reflects what I expect to feel in the white continent, even in its harshest environmental conditions. 

Morningstar, Antarctica – by Natalie Gillis

Her poetry book “This is Where Atlantis Sank”, resulting from her dissertation in a Masters of Creative and Critical Writing course at the University of Gloucestershire, which she enrolled during the pandemics to keep “busy throughout the winter”, had a very limited edition and is sold out. Each poem was accompanied by a photo from her Antarctic expeditions and I have no idea whether this photo is in the book. However, I will copy here one of the poems, called “The silence”, which I feel that speaks a lot about “Morningstar”:


The silence stills the soul

as beauty dawns to show


The poem was posted by my colleague João Paulo Barbosa, an Arctic explorer who owns a signed copy of the book.


This publication was meant to share the artistic work of someone who inspires me and many explorers of the poles, inviting you to delight with her gallery. Writing this also made me think about sharing the work of other people whose ongoing work I admire. Unfortunately Natalie´s work is concluded and I hope she keeps inspiring more photographers worldwide.