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May: Artist in Residence with Leveld Art Centre, Norway & New Work

So for the month of May I was Artist in Residence at Leveld in Norway, a small village in the Ål municipality, Hallingdal home to 300 inhabitants about 700 m above sea level. Another remote mountainous location: perfect once again for me. I feel like I’ve done just about every remote artist in residence programme that there ever has been!

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I spent the 4 weeks mainly based at the Leveld Art Centre, it’s very much a residency for creatives to go to and be immersed in the village and location without any distractions. There’s not even a shop in the village so it really is about going there to get headspace, think about your ideas and work to develop on a project that needs time and space.

I’ve realised through close inspection and really challenging how I think about my work and how I intend for it to develop that there is very much a clear style within my practise and how I respond to the landscape in which I immerse myself in. A major part of me making the art work is being surrounded in an environment that not only invigorates me in terms of remote and harsh elements, it also provides me with the right visual inspiration for me to go forward with new work. The harsh strong black lines I use convey the significant unique texture, shape and linear quality of the landscape whilst the energetic mixed medium marks are responding to the temporary elements that surround the land. It is about connecting people to this energy that exists in nature. I hope my photos of my work below show this kind of idea and give the work clarity.

And so I won’t go into detail about every piece of art work I made, instead here is some photographs that show the location of the place and some of the new works I produced within my time there! At the moment I’ve just left my post as artist in residence in Leveld and currently in Bergen where I will then depart for Shetland then back to the Scottish Mainland so that’s what to expect from my next posts!

Thanks again as always for reading and if you would like to purchase my work head on over to my online shop for small original works at online shop or you can browse my full portfolio at website.

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A sanctuary in the woods

 

I was in need of an adventure, the Cairngorms National Park of Scotland is a place that I have shamefully not as explored as much as the other Highland areas so when I was asked to find unique accommodation which was prime situated in the Cairngorms, I knew just the place.

The Lazy Duck is located in Nethy Bridge, six acres of idyllic land surrounded by sublime forestry and stunning lookouts to the iconic Cairngorm Mountain range in the distance. A haven in the trees, a place almost hidden, only revealing its gems to people who truly want to feel at peace within the landscape and not ‘escape’ but ‘reconnect’ with the simple way of life and ideals that are important. These include; being with nature, lighting your own woodstove and fire and slowing down by embracing the art of ‘slow living’ whilst spending time in a hand crafted accommodation that not only suits the ethos of the area but stands alone in its craftsmanship and peaceful and homely build.

The remarkable site, settled, and sensitively developed by husband and wife team David and Valery Dean has grown organically from the small eight bed mountain hut style hostel to the three more semi off grid huts and bothy, bespoke and original and each standing alone in their attention to detail nestling within the trees or by the water. The ethos of this place is about getting back to nature and slowing down, reflecting on the Highland landscape and getting back to basics; no distractions other than the wonderful setting and location itself.

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I arrived on a clear crisp Wednesday afternoon, via a small road that leads you into a simple haven within the pines. I was met by one of the very knowledgeable volunteers who gave me a tour of the six acres, carefully pointing out all the details of the place and the interesting history of every build. I was honoured to spend my two nights staying in the Lambing Bothy, the latest addition to the Lazy Duck Family.

The bothy itself is right on the edge of the forest where the sheep graze and the hens free range. The bothy stands alone in its original build. Attention given to detail within and out with the hut was clear to see. Every part of this wonderful little shelter brought me back to understanding what is important, the craftsmanship in the make of the box bed and the striking oak table top that fits perfectly within the interior of the place. Everything I needed was there and it begged me to slow down whilst finding comfort in the woodstove, the lookout to the pines that cocooned this spot and the gentle sounds of the animals that wandered the ground around the hut.

I spent my two days at the Lazy Duck finding solace in the location and gaining some much needed head space in the bothy. I drank in the gentle sound of the animals treading the close cropped lambing field watching the light change dramatically every so often over the distant mountains. I listened to birds high above in the towering forest, but most important for me was just being there, soaking it all in, particularly the atmosphere and sacred energy of the place.

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The area is surrounded by some of the most fantastic scenery to be enjoyed in Scotland. When I wasn’t spending hours tucked away in the Lambing Bothy, I was out exploring the area including hours walking around the famous Loch Morlich, a rewarding hike out to Lochan Uaine (The Green Lochan) and taking in the sights of Cairngorm’s northern corries from Aviemore, a paradise for walkers, climbers and nature lovers. A small distance in the car or a hike if you are wanting to really see more takes you to some of the most scenic areas in the Highlands and the Lazy Duck is perfectly situated right in the midst of all of these fantastic outdoor pursuits.

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The accommodation draws in many different people all looking for something different and tending to find whatever it is they are looking for within the peaceful holistic atmosphere of the place. Ranging from ones looking to slow down and recharge on natures ways, hike and explore the adventurous area, be more mindful, or simply want to just relax and respect this wonderful little corner of the earth, a haven for us all. The Lazy Duck site beckons you to ‘unplug’ from the fast paced stressful anxieties of modern life and ‘plug’ into something more, a way of being and allowing yourself time to think, time to feel, time to slow down and simply time.

My lasting impression has been one of pure joy and happiness at getting to spend time at the Lazy Duck. I couldn’t have been more relaxed sheltered in my hut, bringing in the dark nights by the fire which I will say retains the heat exceptionally inside, I was even spoilt and indulged in an outdoor log fired heated tub under the magic of the clear sky and full moon, an experience I doubt I’ll forget! The team were incredibly knowledgeable and speaking to the owners themselves enlightened me even more on the well thought out ideology of the place and what they are passionate about; sharing their quiet sacred corner of the earth with people who want to get back to what is important and spend time finding ‘it’ in the quiet solitude of the land.

And so if you are like me and want to find some much needed inspiration whilst slowing down and reconnecting with nature, head to this unique place within the trees. The Lazy Duck site certainly draws you into its charm and I can’t help but find myself planning a visit back real soon!

For more information and to book a stay at this simple yet special place head on over to their site at:

www.lazyduck.co.uk

Week 20

20 weeks now of living in Iceland.

I can´t really believe it, the level of time here is something I’ve never experienced before, the days seem to be long yet the overall residency has flown in and I still feel like I’m getting used to place and finding amazement in the details of every single day.

I’ve spent my second last week here preparing for and exhibiting my last show as part of the Listhus Skammdegi Festival, took a day trip to the nearby town of Dalvik situated just a few miles south of our town along the fjord and overall immersed myself in the place as much as possible. My last show as part of the Listhus Festival was a collaborative exhibition with my fellow housemate, studio pal and overall wonderful friend Jade De Robles Rossdale. You can view some of her work over at her website here. Our exhibition was titled ´Reaction to winter´and seemed fitting that we exhibited our work together as we shared our studio throughout  the residency. Here are some photos from the show.

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I´m sitting here writing this and realising I only have a week left in Iceland, I recall leaving Scotland all the way back in October and having no idea what my experience would be like, what type of people I would meet and if I would enjoy living through the dark winter in Iceland. This experience has surpassed all of my expectations, Iceland is absolutely unreal, a place of wonderment and a place that will always lie heavy in my heart. I´m going to keep this blog short and just show you some of my images from one of my last weeks here in the far north. I’m also going to spend my final week here enjoying it and stop dwelling on leaving and just make the most of this incredible country!

My next blog will be coming to you from Scotland next week after I´ve spent my last week here!

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Weeks 9, 10 & 11

An overdue update!

A lot has happened in the past 3 weeks since leaving my last residency at Nes in Skagastrond and it’s went in very very quick! I’ve been working as artist in residence with Listhus Art Space with 24 other artists from around the world for just over 2 weeks now!

The location of my current residency is a town right on the North tip of Iceland called Ólafsfjörður, the town is home to around 800 people and has the largest mountains that I have ever seen which surround the whole town. It is right on a fjord which opens up to the arctic sea and I regularly take a walk to the beach where you can look out to the ocean and know that there is no other land until the north pole. It is here where I realise how impressive and truly wild this place really is. To add to this, I have also never seen so much snow in my life, it snows constantly here leaving even more breathtaking views, and even some of the houses around here have started to disappear under the mounds of it!

My time here in Ólafsfjörður started off with some of the worst weather Iceland has ever witnessed. High storms, avalanches and hurricanes, in fact I was told the hurricane that hit us at the start of December was the worst one to hit Iceland in 25 years. I arrived here on the 3rd of December at night and spent the first two days stuck indoors because of the harsh weather, there was an epic white out and I had no idea how magnificent the surroundings of this place were until 3 days into my residency! Wild, raw, powerful, elemental, all of these things which truly heighten an experience and what make Iceland so amazingly beautiful yet terrifying sometimes!

It was a few days in right among these infamous Icelandic storms where I had possibly the best surprise of my life. A large number of my family showed up on my doorstep, in one of the northernmost towns of Iceland, all the way from Scotland. They had been planning the surprise visit soon after I left Scotland back in October and it was a complete pleasure to spend the first week of my time here in Ólafsfjörður with them especially since the residency had only begun and I was still getting to know the place myself! We spent the few days in the amazingly located Brimnes Cabins which are in the town, taking shelter from the storms and even playing cards by candlelight when all of the electricity in the town went out for a few hours on the eve of the hurricane! I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my time anywhere else with anyone else!

Later that week we witnessed some of the most impressive northern lights that I have been lucky enough to see since arriving in Iceland, it was even more special being able to watch them with my family who had never seen them before! I’ve included a few of my photographs from that evening further down in this blog! One of the most incredible experiences to happen to me on that particular evening was bumping into the guys at Arctic Surf who were staying in a cabin close to us. Arctic Surf are a group of professional photographers and surfers who instead of surfing in the expected warm climates of our world, choose to document their surfing experiences and travel in the cold, northern and remote parts of our earth. Getting to meet my favourite photographer Chris Burkard whose photographs you should really check out was a particular highlight! They invited me to join them that evening to document the northern lights so we drove down in their jeep to the remote black sand beach in our town where we spent a good while under the aurora in the impressive fjord inlet! I would urge you all to check out what Chris and the team at Arctic Surf are doing as the photographs and ideas they are producing are truly unique!

The rest of my time here has involved welcoming my amazing friends from Scotland who travelled up to Iceland for my birthday, spending a few days in Akureyri which is the city of the North and getting to know the other 24 artists who I am working with on this Listhus Residency for the Skammdegi Festival. Here is a list of the participating artists in this unique and remote residency! http://www.listhus.com/listhus-skammdegi-air-award.html

The past two weeks here have also allowed me to get to know the place, adjust to my new surroundings, spend as much time as possible outside when the weather and light allow it, and document the beauty and overwhelming environment of the mountains right on the edge of the arctic sea.  There have been a few days here where the temperature has plummeted to minus 20 degrees and on average we are losing about 7/8 minutes of light per day. The sunrise this morning was at 11:51am and then set at 2:33pm, there is no sunlight as the mountains which surround this town are high above the suns peak. Yet the drama and impressive elements of this place make up for all of it and whenever there is on average of 3 hours of blue light per day I try and get outside to walk in it to take in the surroundings of the arctic winter.

The rest of my time here leading up to my third week has involved meeting with the local Junior College to discuss future workshops in January to coincide with the Listhus Skammdegi Festival, spending a lot of time in the local outdoor swimming pool which is geothermal heated by the surrounding mountains and thinking about my projects here and starting to produce new work in my studio in Listhus!

I’ll be updating more often now with my current practise in my residency and with photos here and there of this epic place! It is now Winter Solstice in our northern hemisphere so the days will start to get lighter from this day on. I’m sure this residency and location will bring with it some fierce and temperamental wild weather but the views and location of this magical place here in the north sure do make up for it!

I’m heading back to my homeland of Scotland tomorrow for a week to spend some time with my family and friends over the holiday and then will be back up in Iceland from the 29th of December so lots of updates then, until then here are some of my photos of the surrounding landscape here at Listhus!

 

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