The flight to Oslo is overcast. Through the fog I see fingers of rock fondling the sea but nothing else. I think I have the wrong ticket for the bus to town, but this seems no barrier to the bus-drivers who discuss my situation amongst themselves and, when the time comes, drop me off at a traffic-light right outside my guest-house. This seems to set the tone for my whole stay in Oslo: nobody really obeys the rules, they break them in order to be helpful. I’m already slightly in love with Norway, and I’ve only been here two hours.
I’m on my way to a residency at Galleri Svalbard in Longyearbyen in the High Arctic, invited by Sheffield University Geography Department as a supplement to my Leverhulme Trust residency working with the ice scientists. Before I drop off the edge of the temperate world, I want to get a feel for how artists live and work in southern Norway. In Exeter I’m on the board of Art Week Exeter and have been involved for years with Exeter Cultural Partnership, various artist-run studios and artist-led initiatives, as well as pursuing my own work and applying for funding with varying degrees of success. As we head towards the possibility of a post-Brexit Britain, how will it affect artists? How do other countries support their artists? – especially Norway, which was never part of the EU. Is it a model for us?