July 12, 2014 § Leave a comment
When I was in Iceland, towards the end of May, the time between sunset and sunrise became smaller each day. We used to look at the weather report and see the times inch closer to each other. The period of “night” became something like an hour or an hour and a half before I left, a quiet blue.
It feels here that it becomes “dark” or the point of least incidental light at around 12:30pm. The pull towards darkness begins at about 10:30pm when you see the long point of the sun just above the horizon and this shear of light gleams across everything and passes over the tops of the trees outside my window. There is a slice of peach to pink to purple in the sky then, sitting against the horizon, soft and beckoning, before it fades to the beautiful blue.
That blue colour draws down from the top most point of the sky, the shift is slow but total. The trees change colour, the ground changes colour, as does the building. There is a sheen of blue almost like an aura, and it surrounds everything. The contrast is low, and some far away objects become indistinct. Even sounds feel like they become blue, or crisper, with the slightest metallic edge. The wind in the trees carries and it sounds like water against the shore.
But there is still the light. The sky is opaque, that is how it feels, or like a pearl with that gleam, perhaps like blown glass – it has this colour as if it were an object and I could place my hand against it. There is enough light that bees still work amongst the flowers. The light promotes a restlessness. i am constantly looking through my blinds, watching the shift, trying to recognise the point when it is dark.
The air is cooler of course, and being outside at this time confuses me. The ground is cool against my feet, it is very quiet and still. My mind recognises the signs that say this is darkness, but of course it is not. i want to explore but I am scared. I do not know if animals are affected – do they come out at this time, are they less afraid? What might i fail to see? But I am also drawn – these blues are hypnotic.
I am scared my cameras will not capture this light. I have taken some with the phone camera, but they do not show the blue as all pervasive. These were taken variously from 10:30pm and 12:30pm last night.
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:
November 28, 2013 § Leave a comment
There are things set in stone now for 2014. I find myself dreaming about it, especially the old growth forests, the light, the snow, the cold. The draw of the cold, the wild.
I have a solo exhibit at Bus Projects in Melbourne and am curating a group show in Melbourne with the theme of ‘work’, as in energy, effort and output.
First I will be at Mustarinda, Finalnd in July and August for a residency and exhibition program.
Then I will be travelling to Tromsø, in north Norway, for September and October, for a residency and proprosed project with the Research Centre for High North Operations at the University of Tromsø – which I am hoping to get a grant for as an early career residency (meaning I could stay much longer).
I didn’t take these images (google search).
November 6, 2013 § Leave a comment
I am so in love. With the work I have been making, and other things. The bitterness and sadness of the start of the year an the people like poison who tried to hurt me, these things are no longer front and centre. I regard them now with acceptance, some things I experienced so I could learn.
Next year will be Iceland again and Finland. Invisible City is almost done, save for some recent sickness of mine. In Finland I will be at Mustarinda for art-making and exhibition program which I have been invited to do.
Next year I have a solo show in Melbourne and a group show in Sydney. L from Iceland visited the last few weeks, and I loved the feeling of continuing that connection. S emailed me about a show and working together and I remember his beautiful nature… and beautiful glass work.
I feel like I have many eyes, perhaps this is from my delirium of the last few days being quite sick. J brought my neon work back from Melbourne on the train. A commitment to artwork I am eternally grateful to him for. J slept over on Friday, and I felt this level of intimacy that has been missing from my life. Even if it is as simple as someone sharing the space they sleep. That trust … I realised I like friendship like that. No expectation, just trust.
I spoke with N on ‘face time’ haha – but video chat I have realised is so powerful. I miss him so much. He hopes to visit in January, an event I feel like i have waited 13 years for.
The beautiful cold climates. These things we do for each other that are selfless. The artwork, the collaborations. I live for these things. I am happy.