We set sail in late March bound for the Lefoten Islands in the Norwegian Artic circle. At 68 degrees North and at a rough speed of 5 knots we had a long journey ahead that would take many months. During my time on board I documented the changing landscape. Sketching everyday as England turned to Ireland, to Scotland, the Sheltand islands and then the big push over to Norway riding on the back end of gale which pushed us over to the pristine landscape and meticulously cared for ‘huts’ on islands and inlets of the Norwegian coastline.
Travelling so slowly meant that I was often able to paint and sketch while sailing, being careful to listen out for changing weather when your whole world would suddenly tip sideways witr paints, pens, water and half made work to scatter in all directions unless fast enough to secure them. The wind and choppy seas would also lend themselves to capturing an atmosphere as you were sometimes buffeted from all sides and wave spray merging the colours on paper in unplanned but interesting ways. The viking spirit as water wanderers and fishing people is still an integral part of the Norwegian psyche with some of the fishing village houses propped up on stilts to accommodate the multitude of fisherman who used to descend in the winter.
Celebrations were made for safely reaching the stunning Lefotens islands. This did seem like like a minor miracle as much to the skippers constanation I hadn’t know my port from starboard at the beginning of the voyage! Its the land of the whales, where clawlike mountains rise from stormy seas. The sun never sets, bathing the landscape in a red, pink glow for hours through the night making it an artist’s paradise.
The collection of work is based on some of the sights and experiences of creating work and living at sea for four months and returning 3500 miles later to tell the tale
Gliding through leaves mixed media -Mixed media, ruler, grill, coins, shells and found things from the shore- 60x45cm. This piece is based on one of the multitudes of fishing boats seen which is an integral part of Norwegian life. It is made up of a wide variety of materials found en route while beachcombing. While making it I was taken back to the poetic art installation of a former Bristolian artist Luke Jerram who installed fishing boats into Leigh Woods in Somerset which appeared to be gliding through leaves.
An island of windows, mixed media, approx 45x60cm
An island of Windows, mixed media, approx 45x60cm (right) We arrived just as the sun was setting and ran up to the top point, the lighthouse looking down at the houses, the colours exacerbated by the golden hour. So perfect some of them looked that it was almost out of a fairytale.
Norwegian Life in deep waters mixed media on paper (below) Approx 20x30cm Based on one of the first fishing village islands Bjornsund that we visited. Immaculate houses layered next to each other like a patchwork. A strong but diminished community now remains though it was a big day here as the first ferry of the year had just arrived. The piece was painted from the end of the pier watching the comings and goings.
Artic circle, land of the summer sun. Mixed media on paper. 40x60cm Nyksund, the village depicted, is a small artist colony village in the North of Norway beyond the Lefoten islands. We came across it by chance at the end of a long day cycling through wet and windy weather. A much appreciated stop after the hardship of the day and it meant a roof over our heads rather than the tent in the rain. The town had been recolonised very creatively, with artists, designer and galleries after a tidal wave had hit it in the 1950s and it had been evacuated. Influenced by artist Gunn Vottestad who’s bold work, I saw there, who incorporates the dramatic sky of the long dark winter nights and the Northern Lights.
Red Sky at Night– Mixed media on paper- 25x50cm While the summer sun would never disappear in the middle of the summer it would dip down to the horizon and come back up again. One calm evening four of us got into the dingy to see this moment between the rocky islands. The whole sky turned a dramatic crimson and highlighted the hills around it.