A Polar Night Blog

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    Day 8 December 1st

    wake time 0700 scheduled bedtime 0140

    The first day of the official Polar Night begins (for me) at 0700. Today I want to experiment further with the dynamics of using a water based paint to capture this environment, and I see no better location than the Kilpisjarvi lake.

    drying a pre-prepared pallet of gouache on the heated bathroom floor to transport out to the lake

    1130 The light levels are still quite high here around midday as the sun skirts the horizon. Creating a kind of janus headed sunrise-sunset phenomena.

    While observations of animal bodies are few and far between, my observations of non-animal bodies are becoming more fine tuned. In particular the body of water that is the Kilpisjarvi lake. While her vastness had frightened me in the early morning darkness on the 29th, the exact same same space felt serene and tranquil as I sketched it the following day.

    My fascination with the lake begun with her surreal and haunting sound scape that played at various tempos during my outdoor adventures, though yesterday as we sat at her solid edges she was unusually silent- a sign the ice had settled. I had been curious for several days as to whether or not she was solid enough for me to venture out onto further. I discussed the situation with my mentor, Leena Valkeapaa, here at the station and she asked a local who confirmed it should be safe only 'avoid the black patches- as they may be rivers, just stay on the white bits'. These conversations, combined with my observations (husky dog sleds, skiers and snow-mobiles on the lake) convinced me today to walk, with Josh, further from the shore and explore her surface in greater detail.

    Above: Frozen over ice fishing hole (?)

    Below: a long ice crack uncovered

    Below: Ice boulderAbove: Ice sheet broken then refrozen

    Below: Husky sledders on the lake

    The first half of our walk was consumed with a kind of childish wonder at all the textures, colours and forms that could be found in and on the ice. The snow on the lake was been blown in fine mists over the deep midnight-blue tracks of animals, and machines left on the ice. The play between the white settled snow and the white mist made it look as though the mist was deliberately following the tracks.

    Not long into our trip, Josh discovered a patch of milky green ice, which was slightly slushy. We didn't get too close but it looked as though it may have been a patch of river- not quite frozen and definitely not black as we'd been warned. I decide this is the best place to do my watercolour, an amusing revisitation of yesterday's play between human will and environment which takes around 30minutes. 

    Josh starts to feel very cold so heads back to the station and I continue on for another hour, finding a second spot- (which turns out to be the WWII ammo dump site) to do a pen sketch of the lake and mountains as the light disappears.