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:
Books for lyrical journeys of pilgrimage in landscape, the sea and ice and the true north. A list in progress.
January 14, 2013 § Leave a comment
ARCTIC CIRCLE / TRUE NORTH
Winter Count – Barry Lopez
The Last Imaginary Place: A Human History of the Arctic World – Robert McGhee
The Island Within – Richard Nelson
The Norton Book of Nature Writing – ed. John Elder and Robert Finch
This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland – Gretel Ehrlich
A Woman in the Polar Night – Christiane Ritter
Sea Ice: An Introduction to its Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Geology – David N. Thomas
The Magnetic North: Notes From the Arctic Circle – Sara Wheeler
True North: Travels in Arctic Europe – Gavin Francis
Iceland Imagined: Nature, Culture, and Storytelling in the North Atlantic – Karen Oslund
The Arctic: An Anthology – Elizabeth Kolbert
The Ice Museum: In Search of the Lost Land of Thule – Joanna Kavenna
OCEANS / SEAS / TIDELANDS / RIVERS / ISLANDS
Atlantic: A Vast Ocean of a Million Stories: The Biography of an Ocean – Simon Winchester
Hard Water – Jean Sprackland
Plainwater – Anne Carson
The Last Great Sea: A voyage through the human and natural history of the north pacific ocean – Terry Glavin
Passage To Juneau: A Sea and Its Meaning – Jonathan Raban
Islands: A trip through time and space – Peter Conrad
WANDERING / WALKING / PILGRIMAGE / LABYRINTH
The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot – Robert Macfarlane
Sightlines – Kathleen Jamie
Nightwalk: A journey to the heart of nature – Chris Yates
To the River – Olivia Laing
Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland – Sarah Moss
A Field Guide to Getting Lost – Rebecca Solnit
Mazes and Labyrinths – W.H. Starr Matthews
The Labyrinth: Symbol of Fear, Rebirth and Liberation – Helmut Jaskolski
LANGUAGE / MAPS / INDEXES / VIGNETTES
Shallow Water Dictionary – John Stilgoe
Hard Water – Jean Sprackland
The Poetics of Space – Gaston Bachelard
Atlas of Remote Islands – Judith Schalansky
On Being Blue: a Philosophical Inquiry (colour blue) – William H. Gass
You are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination – Katharine Harmon
From Here to There: A Curious Collection from the Hand Drawn Map Association – Kris Harzinski
Everything Sings. Maps for a Narrative Atlas – Denis Wood
The Dictionary of Imaginary Places – A. Manguel
A Dictionary of Northern Mythology – Rudolf Simek
January 14, 2013 § Leave a comment
This is a picture of a path on what I think is Snake Island in Lake Ontario from 2010.
I don’t understand myself lately. My head is a void. Things are piling up around me, ideas and more physical things, like the clothes and books in my room and files on my desk.If it is in disorder I have an excuse not to look for anything. It is too hard to find. I ache for simpler things/time/ideas. Some people should not live in cities. Today I read about barefoot running. I remember one summer when my friend Becci and I wore bare feet a lot, and the soles of our feet were black. I felt everything then. Maybe the piles and towers of stuff are just cushions that stop me feeling. I bought a video camera month ago and have not taken it out of the box. I don’t want to make anything in case I fail. I think of things to make and it never fails, inside my head.
When you follow a path that someone made you don’t need to think about where to take the next step. Once on holiday I decided to walk through some marshy woods to the sea, which seemed only a few kilometers away. The woods had no paths, and I spent so much time crawling or scaling brambles, brushing webs from my face. I got all turned around, panic, darker and dirtier the further I went. I had to make my way out. I found myself on the edge of a small road and I saw I had made it maybe 100 metres. So slow without the path. Every small decision becomes big. Stuff piles up like cushions.