By spotogspindel | April 5, 2014
A new day, a new adventure! I was invited along with a couple of friends to Barentsburg. It´s easiest to go there in winter by snow-scooter, it´s only about 2-3 hours from LongYearCity.
Ready to take on the Arctic desert. Or space, for that matter!
Barentsburg is a Russian city in Svalbard. Like LongYearCity, it´s based on coal-mining. About 380 people live here, most of them working in the mines, a few in the hotel and at the school, which has 35 pupils. The Russian-owned Arktikugol has been mining coal here since 1932.
Although Svalbard is under Norwegian sovereignty, the unique Svalbard Treaty of 1920 allows citizens of signatory countries equal rights to exploit natural resources. Russia, along with Norway (via the Sveagruva mine and Mine 7), maintain mining operations on Svalbard as a result. Russia maintains a consulatein Barentsburg, the northernmost diplomatic mission of any kind in the world. Still Barentsburg has a Norwegian mail address and Norwegian phone numbers.
Inside an abandoned house outside Barntsburg.
The views today were absolutely stunning! The landscape is so pure, so untouched, so clean. My friend, Hans Gunnar, has lived here for 5 years. He says 60% of Svalbard is covered by glaciers. But in these past 5 years, he sees how the glaciers shrink every year. He is convinced beyond a doubt it is because of human-made global warming.
Everything is pure here. Pure and frail. It feels totally surreal to be here, to see all this, and think of how this magnificent nature is dependent on what goes on on the other side of the world. Or rather all around the world. One feels so small here. In a good way. That there is something so much bigger than me, than us. We don´t own the world and it´s resources. We are merely the Earth´s custodians…
By spotogspindel | April 4, 2014
In 2012, Svalbard had an estimated population of 2,642, of whom 439 were Russian and Ukrainian, 10 were Polish and 322 were other non-Norwegians living in Norwegian settlements. The largest non-Norwegian groups in Longyearbyen in 2005 were from Thailand, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, and Germany. Svalbard is among the safest places on Earth, with virtually no crime.
Maybe since the landscape is either snow-white and light or winter-dark, all the houses are painted in bright colors. It certainly has a charm to it. Because there is perm-frost here, absolutely everything has to be above ground. Which means that all houses are built on stilts.
There are more cars here than I expected, (I even saw a limousine here!) but they are still outnumbered by all the snow-scooters.
And talking of which, we went on a little evening-tour tonight with Anne´s snow scooter.
Here she is. She´s like the coolest! Last year she took me to Israel & Palestine. This year half-way to the North-pole. What´s next I wonder?!
Anyway. We didn´t go too far, because we didn´t bring a gun or a GPS. The gun is needed in case you meet polar-bears and need to scare them away. The GPS you need if the weather all of a sudden turns, and you can´t see a thing.
The temperature here is much warmer than the altitude would suggest. (compared to for example Canada or Russia) The average winter temperature is between -16 to -12 °C (3 to 10 °F). In summer 4 to 6 °C (39 to 43 °F). And we´ve got plenty of clothes, so there´s no reason to freeze. But the clue is just that: dress properly with layer upon layer with wool!
The battery in my camera on the other hand is not dressed in wool, so I had to keep it under my jacket to keep it alive, only getting it out when taking pictures.
Yes, that´s me! On a snow-scooter! First time ever! (I like first-time-adventures)
After a good hour or so, we did start to cool down a bit and decided to warm ourselves in a café… with ice-cream!
And back home, after a nice, warm shower, it´s time for tea, talking and knitting in the sofa.
By spotogspindel | April 3, 2014
Taking an early morning plane, I wake up to the captain´s voice: “And as you can see, we are now approaching our destination”. Looking out the window, this is what I see:
A sight for Gods! Something I´ve never seen before and that fills me with awe. It feels like I´m at the end of the world…
I´m in Svalbard, mixing business with pleasure. Visiting my dear friend who moved to Longyearbyen (Longyear city). Svalbard is an Artic island. It´s only 1309 kilometers (813 miles) from the North pole. This is the view from my friends window:
Svalbard is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, constituting the northernmost part of Norway. Located north of mainland Europe, it is about midway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. The group of islands range from 74° to 81° north latitude, and from 10° to 35° east longitude. The largest island is Spitsbergen, followed by Nordaustlandet andEdgeøya. The administrative center is Longyearbyen, and other settlements, in addition to research outposts, are the Russian mining community of Barentsburg, the research community of Ny-Ålesundand the mining outpost of Sveagruva. The archipelago is administered by the Governor of Svalbard. It is the northernmost place in the world with a permanent population.
Research and tourism have become important supplementary industries, featuring among others the University Centre in Svalbard and the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. No roads connect the settlements; insteadsnowmobiles, aircraft and boats serve inter-community transport.
The archipelago features an Arctic climate, although with significantly higher temperatures than other areas at the same latitude. The flora takes advantage of the long period of midnight sun to compensate for the polar night. Svalbard is a breeding ground for many seabirds, and also featurespolar bears, reindeer, and marine mammals. Seven national parks and twenty-three nature reserves cover two-thirds of the archipelago, protecting the largely untouched, yet fragile, natural environment. Sixty percent of the archipelago is glacier, and the islands feature many mountains and fiords.
(Thank you, Wikipedia)
By spotogspindel | April 1, 2014
Sjølingstad Uldvarefabrik (Wool factory) is just north of Mandal, not far from Lindesnes. It´s a working wool factory, but with limited production. It now serves as a living museum, where knowledge and skills is being taken care of and passed down to new generations.
It started in the late 1800s, and had a real revival with the Marshall-aid from the US after WW2. Today there are only 10 people working there, most of them running the machinery, carding and spinning and weaving. But the kind lady who showed me around works mainly with education, and is in charge of the tours.
This is one of two woolen blankets made here. Made with Norwegian wool, the pattern was made almost a century ago at the factory. A jacquard-loom with old-fashioned punch-hole-cards to make the pattern does the trick.
They still store all the yarn in these big wooden boxes. Now this is the place for a real treasure-hunt!!
In the store/café there was an exhibition with colorful knitting. Two ladies had hand-knitted loads of yummy blankets. I for one am really inspired by these lovely colors, and immediately wanted to get home to my yarn and needles.
Not too long ago I read that absence of color can be unhealthy. Seeing this exhibition certainly makes me happy. And that´s healthy, right?
All the knits are made by Ann Myhre and Tori Seierstad.
By spotogspindel | March 31, 2014
Today is the grand opening of my exhibition: Family-life in the lighthouses. The touring exhibition started in Lindesnes Lighthouse, Norway´s most southern tip of land. (I checked today: there´s a 225 degrees horizon up by the lighthouse!) Since my first visit here two years ago, I´ve been working with these pictures, researching, reading, and the actual picture-making. The more I read, the more inspired I was by the women who helped their husbands run the lighthouses, making these isolated houses into cozy homes, bringing up children, educating them, getting food on the table, basically keeping the everyday-life going, keeping the family-life together. All almost untold stories of everyday-life heroines!
So my main focus and theme for the exhibition was just that: the everyday life of families at the lighthouses. And I have to tell you that I am more than a little impressed with what I´ve learned. Strong and pragmatic women, getting the job done, not much fussing about, keeping it all going, they are true role-models!
All in all there are 23 pictures in the exhibition. All of them are made with original photos from Lindesnes´ old photo-archive.
The technique used is a digital photo-collage: a mix of old and new photographs, painting, old documents, maps, wallpapers, maps, and so on. Everything photographed or scanned and then mixed digitally. And finally printed onto 60×90 cm white aluminum boards.
The theme in all pictures are of everyday-life, some work and some play, some chores and some relaxation. Some in the summer, some in the winter, and only in one picture can you actually see a light-house. Most of the original photos are from the 1950s and 60s. And ost of them are from Breistein and Hatholmen lighthouses.
Well, let the tour begin!:
“Håvard and his ladies” A rare photo from a windless and sunny summer day. Time to get out the bathing-suits and have a swim and to get some vitamin D!
”Row, row, row your boat…” Children had to learn to row and to swim early. And the first thing to learn is to respect the moods of Mother Nature: the water and the wind! But learning is fun, and especially when the craft is mastered, and you are able to taxi your older relatives to and from the islands.
“The cool guy”. Most lighthouses are so close to the ocean, and so close to unrested waters, that there is hardly any snow for longer periods of time. So when the snow finally comes, you have to take advantage of it! Building snowmen is a must!
“A wider horizon” Living so close to the sea, I imagine that one longs to see what is beyond the horizon. Hopefully this is a longing in human nature also in a symbolic meaning of the words:a wish to broaden ones horizon, through knowledge, through openly embracing new ideas, through getting rid of prejudice… One can hope.
“Billy-cart-Clara” The children were also an important part in the work of running the lighthouses. The had lots of chores, big and small. But there was also time for fun through learning practical woodworks and other crafts. I don´t know if the billy-cart is made by the kids or their father, but they sure look proud!
“Silent waters” Another rare, windless day, without a ripple on the little pond. Perfect for sailing the toy-sailing-boats. and having a picnic on the naked rock-faces.
“Just add color” An important part of the job as light-keeper is to take care of the buildings. Since the weather is so rough, houses need painting every year in some places. And the few days when the weather is good, time needs to be used to the max.
“Bubbles” Learning practical chores started early, and every member of the family contributed in several ways.
“Family-life at the lighthouse”. The only lighthouse pictured in the series is from Breistein. I like the angle of the photographer, you really do get a sense of the towering lighthouse.
“The trio on the steps” This is the oldest photo in the series, probably from around the 1930s. Some lighthouses were bigger than others, and there could live several families there. All with different chores and jobs.
“Grab a crab” A lot of the food came from the sea, naturally. Crabs were a seasonal delicacy.
“Herring-Harry and the big fish!” Fish, all sorts of fish were eaten. Both children and adults knew how to catch, how to gut and how to prepare fish.
“Hans´ hens” Eggs were another rich source of food. Some of the lighthouses kept hens, but they might have added to the menu with eggs from wild birds (like gulls) too.
“Gudrun the goat-keeper”. The families had to be as self-supplied as possible. They could be isolated at the lighthouses at longer periods at a time. Keeping goats was just one of the animals to provide food. Goats give nutritious milk, and can find food in the scares of places, climbing the steep cliffs in their search.
“Laura, Bruno and the world”. This picture is from Lindesnes, a large lighthouse with several families, where they even had a cow. The girls name is really Laura, and the cows name really is Bruno. I am trying to imagine how living in a relatively small world and safe social environment like a light-house is, and at the same time learning about the world, of other countries, other cultures. What does the imagination grasp? But then again, I think there is a lot we don´t grasp about this type of life, so it´s a two-way-wonder.
“Potato-cake-potatoes” In addition to the all the seafood, they needed vegetables and fruits. The soil was salty from all the harsh weather, so only hardy plants would survive. But potatoes and turnips would survive. As did several herbs.
“Ella and Normann” lived at Hatholmen lighthouse for years. A lot of the pictures in this exhibition came from Normann. He´s willingly shared stories about his life at the lighthouse, and I am so thankful that he gave so many of his photos to Lindesnes´ archive! Without him and his will to share, this exhibition would be very different.
“Yes-thank-you, it´s steaming in here!” Daily chores: washing, drying, ironing, mending, sewing…
“Psalm-Sunday in socks” She didn´t want to out-wear her best shoes, so she choses to walk in just her socks until they reach the city, just to spare them. You don´t get much of that anymore, do you!?!
“A dog for amaryllis” . I remember my grandmothers fine amaryllis´ and how they were the pride of her window-pane-flowers. On a sunny summer day Ella has taken her pride out to soak in the sunlight. Her little dachas-dog is paying close attention.
“Gull for dinner” I chose this picture to be the poster-picture, because I think it speaks volumes! I love how she gets her gun, goes out and shoots a gull, and prepares it for dinner. It says something about being self-sufficient, the no-fuzz-just-get-it-done type of lady, about being pragmatic and down-to-earth. I admire this woman! She´s a surviver! (I don´t even want to start thinking about all the knowledge that is lost in all areas when it comes to being self-sufficient)
“I got an eye for you” Ella´s son in the lighthouse. What he´s looking at, we can only guess.
“Naked rock fishing” Doesn´t this seem like just the perfect summer day?
By spotogspindel | March 27, 2014
Getting ready for the big opening of my exhibition on Sunday.
I arrived Lindesnes today, with a big, wooden box filled with pictures. “Family-life in the light-houses” is the name of the exhibition, and the next couple of days, we´ll be working to get everything ready.
By spotogspindel | March 24, 2014
Viking Athene is an Eidesvik ship, Christened in 2006. I hand´t any photos from this ship until the Chief Officer sent me some today. I rarely use pastels in my color-scheme, but made an exception here. All these pictures are made in a combination of printed photos, texturizing, overpainting, silk-painting, whitewashing, handwritten text and printed text. The texts are from a series of poems I made, inspired by the raw nature west in the islands, comparing it with the withered souls of human nature.
“Leggja grunnstein til eit savn”, (To lay the foundation-stone for a longing) 120x120cm
“Langs desse strendene” (Along these shores) 120×120 cm
“Glede” (Happiness) 60×60 cm
“Melodi” (Melody), 60×60 cm
It´s funny to see old pictures like this, remembering thoughts I had when I made them, all the things that have happened since, and how my style has evolved.
By spotogspindel | March 21, 2014
Weaving is the topic of the day. After a brief overview of all the different techniques of ways of fastening strings of yarn together, like tying, knotting, crocheting, knitting, weaving, etc, we visited the local weaving crafts society.
This is a bridal blanket. It was carried over the bridal couples arms on the way to the church to, and later it would decorate a wall in their new home. The colors and patterns are traditional for Voss.
Another traditional blanket that was much used is this fleeced rug. It was used by fishers as a blanket onboard the boats, and was a warm and valued piece.
A more modern weave, this is a table runner.
Jon Å. Pettersen lectured about jaquard weaving, and showed some of his stunning designs in pure silk. Some made for the traditional national costume, others for contemporary use. It was so interesting to learn of the way he worked with restoring old patterns and old textiles.
Next on the agenda was card-weaving. Some of the national costumes (bun ads) in Telemark have bands and belts made in this technique, as seen above.
This is an old card-woven belt, so worn it´s falling apart. But still quite stunning!
The last time I did any card-weaving was 25 years ago! If you´ve ever wanted to try weaving, starting with cards might be a good idea. You can make some pretty cool things very soon, and you don´t need all that much equipment. All you need are the cards, and those you can easily make yourself.
The pattern is a bit strange. I think it looks better when I put the length together, so the two halves become one symmetrical band. For this band I only used 10 cards, and the band is about 2 cm wide.
In the traditional belt you need 118 cards. All in all I have 52 cards, so if I use the same type of yarn, I could make a belt of about 10 cm!?! Hm. It could be fun. One day…
By spotogspindel | March 20, 2014
The opening night for “Rederinnene” (The Shipowners) is coming closer, and this week one of my tasks has been to work with the costumes for the show. I´ve adapted some of them and made a couple of aprons. The show itself is going to be be very interesting: two young ladies who worked their way up in society from shop-assistants to shipowners. And this was around the beginning of the past century, before women even got the right to vote! I am so looking forward to learning more of their story!
Sunday was the opeing of an art-show. Ramine, a French marine artist, and my lighthouse-artist-collegue opened his exhibition in Ryvarden. In May we´ll switch. I´ll open in Ryvarden, and his pictures will go to Lindesnes, where my exhibition will be now in April. I´ve not met him yet, but it feels like I do through his pictures.
This week also included a photo-safari (below), giving flowers to travel-agency-employees, a musical show and lots of office-work.
The next couple of days I´m back in Voss at the Textile-culture course. This time it´s all about knitting, card-weaving and such. I´l see if I won´t pick up some new techniques this time too.
By spotogspindel | March 10, 2014
“Familylife on the lighthouses (along the Norwegian cost)” is the title of my upcoming exhibition. Unlike my previous exhibitions, this will be traveling from place to place, and the pictures aren´t for sale. It´s being supported by The Norwegian Arts Council. There s still much to do to get everything ready for the opening in just a few weeks, but at least, now the poster is in place. For now anyway. I am working on the continuance of the exhibition in other galleries and museums. This is downright exciting!