A Polar Night Blog

  • BACK IN AUSTRALIA

    BACK IN AUSTRALIA

    Studio humming again at FAC

    After over 2 months in the Arctic Circle , between Kilpisjarvi and Tromso, I have returned to Western Australia as an aritist in residence with the Fremantle Arts Centre (FAC). Over the next two weeks I will be working inone of the beautiful FAC studios to develop new works in response to my experience of the polar night and Arctic environment.

    I will provide periodic updates from the studio as my work develops during my time with FAC. You can find these updates here.

    In the mean time I wish to thank to the Government of Western Australia's Department of Culture and the Arts for the award of an Artflight Grant to cover the cost of return travel between Perth and Finland in order to conduct the Polar Night Study.

    Thank you also to the Finnish Bioart Society and the Kilpisjarvi Biological Station for the opportunity to work as an artist in residence with Ars Bioarctica.

    A final massive thanks to Bevan Honey and the Fremantle Art Centre's AIR programme for supporting me as an Artist in Residence on returning from the Arctic and to all those who donated to my Pozible campaign. With out you neither of these residency opportunities would have been possible.

  • MERRY CHRISTMAS AND UNTIL NEXT TIME.....

    Merry Christmas! God Jul!

    I'm pleased to announce the successful completion of my Polar Night Study project in Kilpisjarvi Finland.

    My final days (day 23 and day 24) saw a last drawing trip to the river in blustering snow and an early morning excursion back up Mount Saana where I slipped and dislocated my pinky-finger. Amongst Christmas and coming New Years festivities I am processing my last images and notes from the project in the warmth of my sister's home in back in Tromso and will post these tail-end updates soon.

    The project officially ended on December 21st at 0300, where I had a celebratory sauna and did my final on-the-clock check for aurora borealis (too foggy to see once again). My sister, neice and brother in-law arrived just after lunch and stayed the night with us at the station ready for an early return to Tromso the following day.

    At 2303 on the 21st we celebrated the official winter solstice beside a fire, lit by Joris and Nicky (our fellow artists) in the 'fire hotel' wooden hut out in the snow. We managed one last display of Northern lights before bed then the temperature plummeted to a chilling -30 degrees C on the day we departed.

    I have seen, experienced and learned so many amazing things about the Arctic Kilpisjarvi environment and the polar night and have experienced how it feels to have my body clock thrown out of its circadian alignment by living on 28 hour days for a month. Together and separately these things have provided material and inspiration for many new bodies of art work which I will embark upon in the new year as an Artist in Residence with Fremantle Arts Centre in January 2015.

    As an AIR at FAC I will also be organising and transforming the actigraph and assessment based data which I gathered during the project which will collectively map-out my roller coaster of sleep/wake/physiological and physiological functioning during the project.

    I will continue to update this  blog as I develop art work from this data and all the project's documentation. I will post up some notes from additional research which I conducted during the residency - in particular the adaptive behaviour and sleep/wake rhythms of Arctic animals- which was not included in my original project updates but I feel it will be important in contextualising the artistic responses as they come.

    Until next time- HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

    thanks for following my adventures. I look forward to seing and sharing what comes out of my studio as a result in 2015.

  • SANNA IN THE AFTERNOON

    SANNA IN THE AFTERNOON

    December 16th Day 21

    Rise time 1100 Scheduled bed time 0540

    After a refreshing run up the highway in the snow I suit up for a short lazy hike to the top of the Mt Saana steps. I have rebounded from my earlier agoraphobic inclinations with a reinvigorated love for being outside here. I still get weirdly scared of the dark at random but, very illogically, this doesn't seem to happen when I know other humans are awake regardless of how dark it is. I begin when there is still enough light to see most things in different shades of blue. I stop for an hour at the road-side and sketch what I can see of Pikku-Malla and the lake and the road.

    The street lights illuminate lopsided pyramids of falling snow in a soft warm glow. Its as if the snow is only falling there, though I can feel and hear that is not the case. The snow-flakes make soggy goose-bumps on my page as they melts from my body heat while I draw. A clunky beast of a snow plough rattles up the road like a lost sole.

    The snow gets heavier as I walk up the boarded track to the start of the stairs. I feel comforted by the freshness of other peoples foot-prints, but simultaneously pleased to be alone. Alone but not isolated, that's a nice space for me. I do, however gain a seething hatred for thin planks of board walk camouflaged by snow, because I often misstep and end knee deep in it, usually when my thoughts have wandered off and I'm particularly relaxed.

    When I get to begin my ascent I see a head lamp at the top making its way down. I cross paths with a familiar face, whose name I learn 'Heimo. I have seen and spoken with Heimo several times around Saana. He walks to the top nearly every day and runs it in the Summer. He is dressed light in a jogging suit and is not wearing gloves. I tell him I'm just going to the top of the stairs and he is perplexed by me not going to the mountain top. I say it's a bit dark and snowy, which he counters with “it's not very dark and it's barely snowing” we agree (in my mind) to disagree. We put the pieces together that I'm that weird girl who runs up the highway most days. He tells me I should play hockey with him in the new year and draws a picture of a hockey stick with a date in the snow. I tell him I leave on Monday. We say our goodbyes and suddenly the stairway looks very dark.

    When I get to the top I can see the patches of light between the Station and the Norwegian Border. They are softened and blurred in the snow. I draw the lights and the way they greys change between mountain sides, sky and lake. Nothing has a defined edge aside from the part of the mountain I stand on. I finally shamble back 'home' retracing my own foot prints. The dark has settled in well. Tonight I cycle back into the darkest waking hours and won't see even the dusky sunlight again for another 66 hours.

  • EXPLORATIONS OF LIGHT AND DARK THROUGH DRAWING 3

    EXPLORATIONS OF LIGHT AND DARK THROUGH DRAWING 3

    Above: Study 1 and study 1 retrieved writing

    Day 20 continued

    2100 I decide to revisit a place that, earlier in my project, I was too scared to draw in the darkness. I walk out onto the jetty which extends into the lake in the dark. It has warmed up to -3°. Still armed with a flimsy light, but less flighty and unsure about this place and all it's dark I spend an hour drawing near-blind (light off) exploring the landscape, lights and sounds of the environment as they change. As per my earlier study of 5am on day 19 I have retrieved and written down some of the specific moments otherwise buried in a mass of illegible scrawling.

    In study 1 (above) I get my bearings and focus on the light again. Study 2 begins to branch into some of the aural observations which I continue to explore in study 4 from a second location on the verandah of the outdoor sauna near the lake (closed for winter). I remain on the verandah for the rest of the hour. Study 3 is a text only reflection on the silence and a double account of seeing in the dark as my mood temporarily drops. In Study 5 I begin to enjoy the act of translating vision and sound in the dark, allowing my eyes and ears to play tricks on me and just trace the disparate pieces of the moment as they present themselves.

    On Day 22 I return to draw from the same positions at different hours. These drawings and annotations follow after the 5 x 2100 studies.

    Above: Study 2 and study 2 retrieved writing

    Below: Study 3 in 2 parts, writing only

    Above: 2 images, Study 4 and retrieved writing for study 4

    Below: Study 5 and retrieved writing from study 5

    Day 22, 17th December

    Rise time 1500 Scheduled bed time 0940

    1700 I return with my pencils and paper to study the two earlier sites (lake-from-jetty and lake-from-verandah) at different clock hours. This time there are some clear patches in the sky through which I can see stars.

    I begin with an exploaratory drawing, no annotation, in study 1. Whiled drawing I discover a peculiar visual glitch in the perceptions of light and dark thorugh peripheral vision which I move on to explore in study2. I have included the retrieved annotations for study 2 which document the way the darkest shades seen in my peripheries dissappear if I look directly at them. I note parallels between the rippling affect of light and dark, while visually scanning a horizon, and that of the light in the aurora. In study 3 I move on to explore the stars in more detail and begin to try and describe, through drawing, the differnce between stars in clear black sky and those obscured by different types of fog. While drawing I also pay close attention to my misperceptions of page space, finding conceptual parallells between my inability to estimate space and to estimate time in darkness. In study 4 I return to focus on the clear black of the sky finding, through the act of drawing, visual parallells between the shapes of the light and dark in this sky and those I drew in the river for my 1500 study on Day 20.

    Above: Study 1 no annotation

    Below: Study 2 and annotation

    Above: 2 images, Study 3 and study 3's annotation

    Below: Study 4 and study 4's annotation

  • THE SPEED OF DARK AND DRAWING

    THE SPEED OF DARK AND DRAWING

    The last bits of light over the river, photo courtesy of Josh Crompton

    15th December Day 20

    Rise time 0700 (though prematurely awake from 0300) Scheduled bedtime 0140

    1400 7 hours after rising (and frustratingly 11 after waking) Josh and I walk down the highway to the beginning of the Pikku-Malla track so I can draw the river during the light-to-dark transition which (currently) occurs over the hour 1500.

    As the light leaches from the landscape I am progressively unable to see the marks I'm making or distinguish depths of field. The speed at which the dark settles in, and the way it effortlessly renders me blind is unnerving. My eyes do their best to fill in blanks, which I do my best to ignore. Utilising touch, sound and what is left of my sight I sketch and notate thoughts and observations as they spark from the corporeal experience of this specific space and moment. I begin to deduce a returning fascination with the way the darkest shapes bleed into one another and endeavour to pursue this further. As per my earlier study of 5am on day 19 I have retrieved and written down some of the specific moments otherwise buried in a mass of illegible scrawling.

    Below: The light at the end of drawing is gone (taken with flash)

  • CLEAR SKY BRINGS LIGHT AT ALL HOURS

    CLEAR SKY BRINGS LIGHT AT ALL HOURS

    A Willow Tit enjoys the sun, photo courtesy of Josh Crompton

    Day 19 continued

    As I've mentioned there is a little stretch of low sunlight around 12pm, which can be like more equatorial daytime if the sky is clear enough. Until recently I had taken this for granted though have now experienced how gloomy a day can be with cloud and fog over the sun-time. The forecast for my 19th day is fair to clear sky, in two days I begin to cycle away from sunlight hours again so I spend as much of the light time I can out doors soaking up scraps of vitamin-D.

    Above: Mount Saana, sun and lake Kilpisjarvi panorama

    Below: a fine icicle found in the snow

    Below that: Hare prints in snow

    Below are a series of photos from the day taken by Josh

    Detail of Mount Saana

    Sun rise-set over mountains and lake

    The clearer sky brings with it a sharp drop in temperature, which in turn sets the lake off on a vocal account of ice expansion. A clear sky can also mean Northern Lights. With the forecast for cloud cover the rest of the week and our leaving scheduled this Monday we hoped we'd get one last glimpse so Josh and I shambled out around 2000 and watched the faintest glowing arc of soft aurora twitching in a slow pulse between the mountains, Malla and Saana.

    Within 40mins or so the glow began to spread across the whole sky and soon it was lit near-full with a soft unearthly green glow reflecting off the snow. These light's weren't the sharp acidic ribbons that we'd seen before but perhaps an even more beautiful (than sensational) dusting of specteral luminescence standing out with all the stars against the blackness of still-moonless night.

    We SMS'd the other half of what has come to be the Kilpisjarvi Aurora safari team, Artists Joris and Nicky, who joined us just in time for a much more spectacular and dynamic light display. Like the last one we saw, this aurora cast rapidly undulating ventral fins of pink and purple, waving in tight ripples so much faster than I ever could have believed if I hadn't seen it. By 2130 the light simmered down and I raced to bed for my scheduled sleep.

    Kilpisjarvi Bio station's three artists in residence with faces obscured by movement, light and a camera.

  • EXPLORATIONS OF LIGHT AND DARK THROUGH DRAWING 2

    EXPLORATIONS OF LIGHT AND DARK THROUGH DRAWING 2

    Above: Study of 5am (hoar frost and star - collaborative constellations) -10C Kilpisjarvi

    Day 19 14th December

    Rise time 0300 Scheduled bed time 2140

    I wake at 0300 and roll out into the dark again to document the spectacle of Kilpisjarvi's cloudless sky. My camera is no good for capturing anything, so I stand and watch and draw until 0630, returning periodically to warm my digits and drink coffee. The drawings are heavily text based studies of the sky and surroundings. They are records that I have returned to today to retrieve specific moments otherwise buried in a mass of illegible scrawling. Below is an illustrated account of the hour between 0500 and 0600 near the lake, a study of '5am'.

    Above: 0500 study 1

    Below: retrieved moments rewritten more legibley

    Above: 0500 study 2

    Below: retrieved moments rewritten more legibley

    Above: 0500 study 1

    Below: retrieved moments rewritten more legibley

  • DARK TIME(S)

    DARK TIME(S)

    Above: A time line of activities over the polar night vuorokausi.

    In the second week of my project I came to realise how often my outdoor excursions were timed with daylight (1000-1400) and the potential of seeing the northern lights (2100-0300). At around project's the half-way mark I began to feel a temporary resentment for the dark-time.

    In my journal on the 8th of December I note:

    'I have tried to focus on evening out the light-clustering disparity of my excursions, choosing hours like 0600 and 0700 and 1400/1500 to balance the scale. As my body becomes more fatigued by both the length of darkness and lack of sleep I find myself clinging to the comfort of being inside during the dark time with a rise in my desire to fatten up and sleep. There are hours with reoccurring highlights which seem to revolve around seeing light. I like watching the colours change as the sun rises and sinks below the horizon, I like the anticipation of northern lights and following the moon's tracks in the wee hours. But in the spaces 0300-1000/1500-2200 there is only so much you can do before you say “ this space is dead and I want to go to bed and eat cookies”. The darkness here accumulates, builds up a foggy warm pressure behind your eyes, hums in the nape of your neck so you can't hear so well. And the darkness pinches the vuorokausi at its ends pulling so that the lightest patch in it's centre is dulled into an elongated twiglight. In the dark hours, of which there are so many, I linger about in a post-dusk purgatory watching the clock until stuffing-my-face-with-food time arrives.'

    Since this entry I have endeavoured to fight off this agoraphobic tendency and continue to explore the 'dead hours'. In my journeys I rediscover that, along-side my own body, all things here are in flux all the time; weather, temperature, animal behaviour, natural and artificial light, lake sounds, magnetic activity. When your eyes adjust to the dark you can begin to see how the multitude of alignments make each hour unique. And as time has passed I have begun to fall in love with this landscape all over again, only from a different temporal perspective.

  • THE RIVER AND I (AND TIME)

    THE RIVER AND I (AND TIME)

    Living on a 28 hour day has sent me off into a strange orbit around the 24 clock times with which I'm accustomed. Sometimes a mark such 1200 (midday) is my 2nd hour of wake, sometimes my 2nd hour before bed. Sometimes I am sleeping when it rolls around. I used to have a resonably regular cycle of emotions and energy levels associated with specific times of the day, where as in a 28 hour cycle my experience of each clock hour changes dramatically based on where (between wake and sleep) I am.

    05/12 first ski to river 3 hours before bed.

    I experienced this significantly on the day I first skied to the river, in the last 3 hours before my bedtime. A clear day, carving my way through freshly fallen, blue tinged snow on a frozen lake, against a backdrop of the most stunning pallet of sunrise-sunset I have seen on this trip- feeling hopelessy depressed, loveless and unmoved by any of it. On this day I sat at the river and drew it. The marks I made were akin to the pumping motions I make when my fingers are freezing and I want to get blood flowing, as if the act of drawing might restore some feeling.

    05/12 River drawing 1

    I wanted to return to this spot when I was happy again. In fact I decided I would re-visit this spot periodically over the course of this project to re-draw the river from the same position at similar clock times but different times of my 28 hour cycle. I hope in doing this to capture the time scale disparity between the river and I, where the river is flowing along just as it ever was- cold and constant through all Kilpisjarvi's darkness and light over hundreds of years while I oscillate wildly about this place in extremes of extascy and misery every few hours.

    06/12 River drawing 2

    I did return and draw the river again the next day, December 6th, same clock time but 6 hours before my bed time and happier. And again a third time on the 8th(same clock time) shortly after waking. When I got to the river for the third time though, it had changed. The place where the water pooled into the lake had begun to freeze over and the flowing water was totally black. The reflected sky that had once turned that water to red-wine just drowned. Sucked down under the rocks and ice without a single reflection escaping.

    08/12 River drawing 3 (drawing 3's text below)

    For my third drawing I didn't reflect on myself. I reflected on the river. I had taken it's form, it's sound, it's colour and reflections all for granted, but like everything here this body is changing as the dark comes too. My paper begins o freeze, and my pen too. I breath onto them both to keep the ink flowing but soon it's too cold. And I'm too cold. I can't feel any of my digits and literally cannot feel my ski poles in my hands on the return. When we get home I see it's minus 18 outside.

  • PIKKU-MALLA MOUNTAIN SHAMBLE

    PIKKU-MALLA MOUNTAIN SHAMBLE

    Day 18 13th December

    Rise time 2300 Scheduled bed time 1740

    0930 We depart the station in the dark, just as the word is beginning to turn blue, to climb Pikku-Malla. We begin with a 30 minute walk up the highway in our reflectors and headlamps, stopping only to make a recording of some strange whirring bird noises. The climb begins with shallow (ankle deep) snow along a ski track before crossing over my beloved river, which is as inky black as ever. As the climb progresses the snow gets deeper and deeper. At the point where I am crotch deep in snow I change places with Josh who forges Josh-sized footprints which I follow in.

    Near the turn off to the peak there was a flock of (rock?) ptarmagin, bobbing about in the snow. I think we had all been quite keen to see the sunlight skirting beneath the horizon, but the cloud cover and fog kept everything a very monochromatic pallet of black, white and paynes grey, which ends up being spectacularly beautiful in itself.

    At the top the wind is icey, so we stay long enough to admire the shapes of the windblown snow-ice and all the different crystal structures clinging to rocks, plants and track markers.The return climb and arrival back at the station takes us just over 5 hours, with the snow forging possibly adding a couple to what we had all expected to be more like 2.5.Given the high representation of artists (75%) and display of creative snow moving techniques employed, I believe that the day's mountain shambling fits more into the category of performance art than hiking....

    Three techniques for hiking in snow: the stomp, the panther-crawl and the straight up roll.

  • TYPES OF LIGHT: PART 2

    TYPES OF LIGHT: PART 2

    Day 17 11th December

    Wake time 1900 Sceduled bed time 1340

    The way that artificial light here changes the landscape is sometimes beautiful. I realise and embrace the fact that I love and need light. We aren't very good at seeing in the dark so we dot our habitats with visual prosthesis, monuments to both our animal inadequacies and ingenuity. On my 17th (subjective) day I took a walk along the highway and photographed light ensembles that I enjoyed. I walked up until the street lamps ended and stared into the darkness as it engulfed the lousy blue halo of my headlamp.

    Other temporary man-made sources of light have begun appearing as the darkness settles in. First were the traditional pyramidal 'candle' lamps which appeared in all the station windows while I slept, second were these dramatic flaming logs in the snow on the roadside.

  • TYPES OF LIGHT

    TYPES OF LIGHT

    The full moon over my bedroom, Kilpisjarvi Biological Station

    There are several reoccurring sources of light here including artificial light, sunlight, moonlight and, if lucky, the northern lights. Visibilty of each changes depending on circumstances, including the presence of more than one light source at the same time.

    Each light source produces its own type of luminescence, which can wax and wane depending on time, location of other light sources, atmosphere or another external force. In this second half of my project I am finding myself drawn more to exploring the nature of light in this dark place so I begin my 13th day at 0300 by rolling out into the cold (and making up the gaps in my observation hours) .

    Above: Sodium and halogen ligh cast into darkness 0700, gouache on paper

    Below: Sodium and halogen with darkness 0800, gouache on paper

    Above: Artifical light through trees 0830, gouache on paper

    Artificial light comes in many forms, from the speeding light-scored outlines of truckson the highway to the drifting head-lights of husky sledders on the lake. Around the station I can see warm (sodium?) street lights on the road and these cold conical (halogen?) 'moon-on-stick' lamps which are dotted about the buildings. The bedroom lights too cast peachy rectangles onto the snow in different shades depending on whether its coming through an open blind or curtain. I think of the Willy-wagtail 'night peepers' back in Australia peeping at streetlights like they were the moon. I wonder about how different levels of light pollution might affect the behaviours of animals.

    Above: full moon vs 'moon-on-stick'

    The moon on my 13th day is full. The forcast is clear and the northern lights active. Unfortunately my sleep schedule means that I will be in bed for the potential aurora show. Josh, however is not and manages to get some great pictures while I'm asleep. The following two days are marked my increasingly impressive northern lights. These are combined with a near full moon, clear weather, my waking hours and the arrival of two more Artists from Holland, Nicky Assman and Joris Strijbos.

    Below: Northern lights over Kilpisjarvi lake 07/12 Above: Northern lights over Mt Saana 08/12

    Below: Northern lights over Kilpisjarvi lake 08/12

    Above: Detail of northern lights 09/12

    Below: Northern Lights with pink and purple edge 09/12

  • LIFE CLUSTERS AROUND SUNLIGHT

    LIFE CLUSTERS AROUND SUNLIGHT

    Above: 1200 the suprising lightness of midday during the early weeks of the polar night. Photo courtesy of Josh Crompton

    Even from below the horizon, the sun begins to light the landscape from about 1000. On a clear day 1200 is surprising close to full daylight which is, in part, amplified by the reflective snow. By 1430 everything outside submerged in blue, with a period (currently) between 1445 and 1500 where the snow looks like white clothing in UV light- only a little duller.

    Above: 1000 blue view from outside my room

    In just over two weeks I have seen only a hand full of different species in the flesh, all of them apart from human between the hours of 0900 and 1500 (Hawk Owl, Willow Ptarmigan, Waxwing, Willow tit, Great tit, Blue tit, Bull finch, Green finch, Dipper, Crows, Magpie,Hooded Crow, Husky,Vole).

    Above:1500 view of bird feeder. The birds keep the same office hours as the receptionist during the polar night

    In a my poorly thought out theorising on polar night life I assumed that a place with such extensive hours of dark would be a hub of activity for it's nocturnal inhabitants.Two points (amongst no doubt many) which effect this theory are 1.)nocturnal animals are going to hear/see/smell me well before I get a chance to hear/see/smell(?) them. 2.) apparently a lot of nocturnal animals change their behaviour during the polar night to become 'day active'. This last point about animals changing their periods of activityin response to the polar night is of particular significance to my project and is a concept that I endeavour to explore in more detail.

    While my lack of animal sightings during night hours are not from my lack of being outside at those times, a quickl sketch tabling the hours I have explored reveals that I too (unintentionally) have been clustering about daylight.

  • MEANWHILE...AT THE BIO STATION

    MEANWHILE...AT THE BIO STATION

    Day 13

    December 7th Rise time 0300 Scheduled bedtime 2140

    0300 After a previously rough nights sleep the most recent was surprisingly normal. I even woke to my alarm at 0300. On venturing out to the kitchen I was greeted by his delightful gingerbread house built lastnight by the two Finnish PHD students whom I've been sharing this space with over the last 2 weeks. They are both very busy, spending most of their time in their rooms writing, emerging for food or coffee periodically at irregular hours. I guess they needed a change of scene.

    The gingery debris of December 8th

    MR Gingerman, faceless and ankle deep in liquefaction.

  • NOTES ON FORCED DESYNCHRONY

    NOTES ON FORCED DESYNCHRONY

    Above: an emotional crashsite which set off a bout of severe insomnia is marked in my schedule

    6th December Day 12

    Rise time 2300 Scheduled bedtime 1740

    Along side my wilderness explorations, the last 14 days have seen me engage in a performative 'forced desynchrony' study of my own body clock. For two weeks I have been running on a 28 hour cycle of 9 hours 20 minute for sleep and 18 hours 40 minutes per subjective 'day'. Using the polar night's long hours of darkness (and hence deprivation of the body's major exogenous zeitgeber- sunlight) as a clean slate against which to tinker with the machinery of my own circadian rhythm I have harnessed my out-of-step wake time to explore Kilpisjarvi's unique environment from multiple temporal perspectives.

    My two weeks of observation are slowly revealing what a restless lattice of different time scales make up this unique polar environment, myself included. Disparate bodies, land, water, sky and animals all move about this space at vastly different frequencies. I had not foreseen the wealth of inspiration that this interplay of cycles would provide and I am excited about exploring and reporting on the concept further.

    I had also not foreseen the crippling insomnia that this performative attempt at 28hour entrainment would bring into my life. At times the mental health consequences have been quite severe. Long drawn out paragraphs bemoaning this self inflicted sleep disorder are best kept to the handwritten journal which I'm keeping as part of this project. But the documentation of it's effects and my experience have inevitably become interwoven into the project.

    Above: Coffee soake insomnia: caffiene study i

    Below: sleep/wake cycle with environmental light and noise

  • VISITOR TO THE RIVER

    VISITOR TO THE RIVER

    December 5th Day 11

    Rise time 1900 Scheduled bed time 1340

    In the four hours before my bed time we ski across the lake back to the river where I saw the dipper. We are not great on our skis so the journey takes the better part of an hour. The sky is finally clear and the sun skims the horizon casting a neon red halo over the mountains. The snow is very thick now, up to my knees in places. I take off my skis to trudge through it and find a sketching pozzy by the river. As I draw, Josh sets up his camera to capture the sunlight rise and fall. We don't see the dipper, but Josh discovered something more exciting.. what look to be bear tracks in the snow!

    After discussion with the locals we are told that there is no way that these were bear tracks. Infact they are most likely reindeer tracks. The fantasy was thrilling while it lasted!

  • AURORA VS SNOW

    AURORA VS SNOW

    December 4th Day 11

    Rise time 1900 scheduled bedtime 1340

    2000 In frustrated acceptance that the alignments (at least of aurora and weather) will be off for a northern lights display I paint the aurora from memory. Then I cover the paintings layer of thick purple grey, just the way the sky is doing right now. Between 2100 and 2200, Josh and I walk about outside while it snows on the hope that the whether might break just for a minute. It doesn't so we do what any grown ups would do in this situation and have snow ball fights, make snow angels and build terrible excuses for snowmen.

    The snow gets quite heavy. I decide to put my earlier gouaches out side and let the snow eat into the grey layer on the hope of revealing at least a conceptual glimpse at the Northern Lights.

  • ALIGNMENT STUDY 1 (WEATHER/AURORA/SLEEP)

    ALIGNMENT STUDY 1 (WEATHER/AURORA/SLEEP)

    Day 10 December 3rd

    Rise time 1500 scheduled bedtime 0940

    The Aurora Borealis forecast for December 4th is rated at 'level 4' which means that is will be pretty spectacular at the end of that date, either around 0000 or 2300.I haven't quite figured out which end of the 24 hour day the forecast pertains to, but Josh and I spent between 2100 and 0000 checking the sky for weather breaks in the cloud. We never found out which end of the day the rating was for because both ends where covered with snowing cloud.

    I check the weather and Aurora forecasts for the next few nights to see if any good potential Northern Lights sightings will occur in line with my wake cycles.I make little gouache swatches of the next two day's various weather/aurora/wake alignments and mark of the hours I check the sky in pencil.

    Blue= sleep time, Green=Aurora strength, Grey/purple= weather.

  • MOON STUDY 2

    MOON STUDY 2

    December 3rd 

    Day 9 continued

    0335 I'm getting far to close to my bedtime to feel like another foray into the cold and dark is a good idea. I spend some time justifying why I can probably stay inside, on the list is 'it's really cloudy- I won't see anything'. But despite this I feel some how obliged to visit the moon like I'd planned, and deep in my mind I have a feeling that something important is supposed to come of this final observation.

    I step out into the snow and look at the sky. All I see is this very vague dirty smear of icey yellow on the clouds. I realise that it is just the reflection of the moon, which of course has moved west (?) since my last encounter. I walk a little way towards the darkness of the lake, looking up to try and find the moon. I can see it now glowing softly in a pocket of thinning cloud the trees are in the way of my view so I venture a little further towards the dark. A light breeze thins out the clouds enough to see it's lopsided oval shape. As I watch I see a second oval light to the left. I'm perplexed for a split second before this little patch of luminescence starts to expand laterally and rapidly casting thin splinters of acidic green light down towards the snow. The Northern Lights! It only lasts for about 40 seconds and then dissolves. As I smile to myself at the uncanny luck at my timing, a low rumbling sound begins to build over the lake in the distance. It gets closer quickly and I'm struck by a blast icey wind, followed by sudden silence, then the same low rumble but this time from the other (Mt Saana) side and another blast of wind from the other direction. I make my way back inside.