July 9, 2014 § 4 Comments
Yesterday I was a bit stir crazy. The isolation here is different to Iceland, as this isn’t just an area of remoteness, but an area remote from the already remote. There are several bikes here, but most have completely flat tyres, or pedals falling off. It took me the longest time to find a pump. One bike was in ridable condition after doing up the tyres, and I took off for the 14.5km round journey to the falls.
The road is gravel for half of the way, so it was slow going. The trip there is on the decline, so the ride back was quite a punish, but I did make it.
The falls themselves were interesting to a point, but I am so jaded lately (depression, preoccupation, mediated expectations, sickness) that I did not stay long, that and the bugs were out in force. The river splits in two (I am not sure if this is natural or man-made) before going over the falls. The smaller of the two streams has a mill built over it, so that the water funnels down a runway, which presumably powered the old mill.
This area is now set up for camper/walkers and has the obligatory wood shed and campsite/picnic table – however it also has a traditional wood sauna free for use – so I have suggested we all go in the van one day and make a fire and eat and have a sauna, and maybe we can run to the lake at the bottom of the falls (though I am petrified of lake/river swimming).
I really loved the ride down the big hills of the main road, it felt nice to have the cool wind over my body and through my hair. it was essentially just me on the road, four other cars in total, and they speed by and are gone like that – ghost people.
One thing about here is language. there are three Finnish people, two Germans and a Czech girl. No-one speaks English very well, so well all communicate in a pidgin, which makes it hard to have sustained conversations or really express my ideas or thoughts very well. I use gestures more. The czech girl must feel like me, as we do not have someone to speak with in our common tongue, so it becomes lonely and isolated.
Remoteness through language.
Remoteness through distance.
My heart is all over the place and I am struggling (?) to find a place of comfort and assuredness to settle. Its not so much knowing what my feelings are, but being able to keep them safe while I carry on with these other things in my life. It is hard not being able to have conversations. There is also the newness of everything that makes all emotions sharper, making me overthink things and push them more than they need to be pushed. I hope it gets easier.
July 6, 2014 § 2 Comments
I have arrived at Mustarinda in Finland after almost three days of travel (while sick)… aspects of which I would rather not go into again.
i had the obligatory first time to the supermarket, where, as I had come to expect I would need to rely on pictures only as words in finnish give no clues as to what they might be. To me most of the words look the same, they are long with repeated letters. I took a gamble on the 1l milk packs and bought buttermilk instead of actual milk of course.
Above is the house (an old school). The house is powered by geothermal and is almost completely self-sustainable. There is a permaculture garden.
My room is quaint and thoroughly Finnish i have been told. There is the 3am sun (its 24 hour daylight at the moment) and my crude rig to fashion some darkness.
I have still been getting over my cold/flu so my activities have been confined to cooking, reading and walking. Mustarinda has three short nature walks starting about 250m from the house. I took the first two, red and green. I want to do the blue in the midnight sun.
The red walk takes you to an observation tower where you have a 360 degree view of the surrounding forest. There are three main types of trees in Finland, the pine, the birch and spruce. They tend to grow homogeneously but a forest can sometimes support a second species. It tends to be pine/birch here. The birches make the most beautiful sound in the wind.
I took the 6km round walk to the nearest lake. There were some abandoned sites on the way which have given me some ideas for artworks, as have some of the forest sounds. As it is so isolated here they is no traffic noise, or towns/people. In some respects the forest seems like a rainforest, but one of a cool climate. Up here in the Kainuu in northern finland is a sort of microclimate. It seems to have a summer for about 3 months then on either side the ascent/descent to winter. Wintertime looks beautiful in pictures i have seen but I imagine it would be even more remote.
At the moment I feel a little glum, but that is general for me when going to a new place and not having my usual supports around me or the distraction of work and friends. This time around of course I meet someone before I go away, and so of course this influences my moods. I am thankful this time the relationship is kinder and gives me great good feelings and thoughts of the future. Previous times have been punctuated with the messiest and darkest of ‘relationships’ which marked a lot of the happiness and productivity I wanted to experience.
i am still not sure what my outcomes here will be. I want to visit the nearby Talvivaara mining site, which I might have to wait for when Steve comes to visit so I can beg him to drive me (Steve is visiting as a side trip to his work making collaborative residencies between rural scandanavia and country south australia). I hope to make inroads with some locals so I can accompany some tree fellers on their work, as logging and forestry industries are a large employer and part of the GDP in Finland.
Then there is research, trying to figure out how to make and isolate aspects of nature – how to make mist convincingly? It mists here sometimes around 11pm if there is overcast skies. How to make site-specific sound works, where to get charcoal.
Walking helps with fleshing out ideas, its just up to me to become more process driven, to experiment and to have structure in my day to support my working style and allow me to look at working in new ways. i have not taken an image with my film cameras yet. The midnight light is beautiful but at the moment I am very tired and mostly sleeping/trying to sleep then.
So, I am not fully in my element yet. The remoteness scares me a little, there are less people here (6 artists at most really) than at NES, and we are not in the town. There is no public transport to town so it is planned weekly excursions and whenever you can jump in someone’s ride.
On the drive in we had to stop on the road for Reindeer to wander across. There are bikes, but it is still 25km to town and a lot on dirt road. i am going to have to be very resourceful and be active in managing my mental health, along with my research and projects.
Here is a useful schematic:
February 10, 2014 § Leave a comment
This is me with 3am feelings and intense dreams about the life and desires of a 19 year old horse rider living in the 1940s Lithuanian tablelands.
I want to be there, on a spit between sea and tidelands. The dream also saw me pushing a chair and trying to thread a burnt out lightbulb. The cliffs of the tablelands were dark rock cascading to the sea. In one part I saw the men in a game of horse-riding, maybe polo, played on the smooth flat grass. I saw a map, an atlas opened with the long lines of cliffs skirting around the very tops of the earth. The 19 year old should not have been riding, she was a woman. You could tell though by the dirt on her leather boots… scuffed slightly. I was changing the light in the hallway of a university.
I have been feeling down lately and I am not sure why. My show opens 21 May and I am speaking to the two lovely artists who will write some words for a catalogue. Trying to tease out of myself a lot of answers. I will be in Iceland in November I know that. What else I know.
February 3, 2014 § 3 Comments
January 4, 2014 § Leave a comment
Erik, Ann and I drove to Adelaide, down and across the hay plain and the Mallee highway. We stayed the night in Hay. It rained, I think my first experience of rain in this part of the country The hotel in Hay had a spa, which was a welcome after the heat of driving. We had breakfast on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River.
This holidays in Adelaide has been nice. Spending time with Becci and Jess and Piet, going to wineries, swimming at Seaford among the rocks, going to Semaphore and the old art deco Odeon Star cinema, Moonlight Cinema. A glorious sky on New Years Eve. Seeing family of course.
I have been very lucky with my travel and residencies for this year of 2014. Exhibitions and grants too, which I feel powerful and capable to have pursued on my own steam. Just my work to show, no favours or relying on people who want things in return for their favour, no ‘advanced’ networking. I am so happy with Invisible City, and have a new appreciation for sound work, having met some amazing composers and musicians in Iceland, carrying through…
I am excited to see Noel and Linda and Shaun and Yogan again this year, at the very least, while I am in Europe. 2014, the year of movement.
Here are images from our trip across Australia.
The hotel in Hay, and the rain.
Breakfast on the Murrimbidgee, beautiful Erik and Ann.
In adelaide, sunset from my window, the bike kitchen (my little bike in white), Semaphore, the sky of the last evening of 2013.
and myself… and my new camera…