Boy's Own epic

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The Independent Culture
John Warburton Lee's photographs are the stuff of Boy's Own adventures. And "Roof of the Americas", a 72-picture document of a gruelling 15-month expedition that set out to reach the geographical and physical extremes of North, Central and South America, makes for exhausting viewing. For those who dream of conquering natural challenges, this armchair voyage through battles against the elements from the comfort of a warm, centrally-heated gallery is just the thing for dark autumn days. Here are thrilling high-altitude rescues and struggles through dramatic white water, dense jungles, swamps and raging seas. Action-packed colour imagery also includes dog-sledding and and snowmobiling in Arctic Alaska, mountaineering in Alaska and Argentina, and kayaking, rafting, trekking and sailing in Chilean Patagonia en route for Cape Horn. But also on show here are contemplative landscapes and studies of the people encountered on his travels.

Captain John Warburton Lee was well- qualified as an expedition leader. Commissioned in 1983 into the Welsh Guards, he served in Northern Ireland, Germany, Canada and Belize. He always saw himself first and foremost a soldier, but exploited to the full his leadership skills to satisfy an inherent wanderlust. Expeditions to Norway, Austria, Mexico and throughout Africa led to his first book and exhibition, Roof of Africa, which he wrote and photographed himself. And now he has allowed the Indiana Jones streak to take over; after the Roof of the Americas expedition, he resigned from the army to pursue a career as a photographer and write - and, no doubt, more action-packed adventures.


Tom Blau Gallery, 21 Queen Elizabeth St, London SE1 to 1 Dec