Art Above the Arctic

A week on Sørvær in Northern Norway kept me immersed in the land and enveloped by the sea. The atmosphere of this island among islands is reigned by the sky above and waters below. Combined, they create an undeniably powerful influence. My moods changed at the whim of the weather. Even though I’ve spent my adult life working outdoors I’m unconditioned to the reality of light reflected from a vast and shifting water surface, or, tides streaming in and out all around. Grasping the totality of the archipelago's grand and sweeping vistas was a heady experience.

Keeping me grounded were two art pieces made while in residence at Fordypingsrommet Fleinvær. The first took advantage of a glacial erratic located next to the studio where Sigurd Hole played his bass every day. The second used a former gravel storage area as a site for the creation of a labyrinth.

The artist residency at Fordypingsrommet Fleinvær afforded me the time and space to try something new. With no pressure to make anything specific, I was able to observe and respond to my surroundings in a relaxed and open manner, which made the time spent doing, all the more delicious.

The art projects:

Red Right Returning* is an ode to the navigational buoys and hazard markers that dot the coastal waters of Scandinavia. The floating bobbers and fixed beacons rise above the surface of the sea, often the only man made objects within view. They’re painted bright colors to aid visibility and in the case of buoys, red ones mark the right-side edge of a channel for ships returning to harbor. The environmental artwork, Red Right Returning, is an assemblage of painted stones on top of an in situ glacial erratic. Total dimensions: 1.2 meter diameter x 1.2 meter.

The Long Way West is a labyrinth built from, and in, the remains of an abandoned, gravel storage yard. A few years back, a 50 square meter, heather and moss covered area on the island was sacrificed for storage of trail-building materials. No reclamation efforts had been made, leaving a scar on the otherwise natural landscape. In an effort to bring some healing to the disturbed ground I shoveled the gravel into mounds that delineate a long, winding path. Seaweed, washed up on a nearby shore, was collected and pressed into the pathway. Total dimensions: 7 meter diameter x .5 meter.

Fordypningsrommet, created by jazz musician Håvard Lund, is situated on the island Sørvær in the Fleinvær archipelago outside of Bodø, Norway. My thanks to Håvard for inviting Elin and me to stay a week at Fordypingsrommet Fleinvaer. Thanks to Mette Aakre, who made sure we were well accommodated. And to Sigurd Hole, thanks for the new-found friendship.

*Note - "red right returning” is a North American rule of the sea. Europe (and most of the world) follow the IALA standard with green markers on the right side of the channel when returning to port “the ships green lantern towards the green markers”.