Austmarka  |  minus 8 degrees  |  sunny + dry

getting out of the village
is not easy
bus leaves at 6.45 am
one returns at 3.45
if your lucky
question is – what to do
on arriving at 7.20 am
when it’s freezing ?
you can stroll
up to the Fortress
suggests Astrid

thoughts of a day out
preoccupy me all morning
to go to a cafe
a museum
look at the fortress
the shops
soak up some local colour

out and about with my camera
still unaccustomed
to the very cold
gloves on and off
adjusting my camera
I head up to the bridge
separating 2 lakes
Fagernessjøen and some other
air so sharp
it cuts into bare skin
clear hard light
revealing everything
I film the
the river Sorgo
as it whooshes along
a thin white mist
hovers about it
begin to photograph
the glitzy grasses
and weeds
covered with white shards
like cheap christmas decorations

afternoon is almost over by 2
blue shadows close in
how long have I been here ?
now, to get on with some work
must learn Premiere Pro
don’t really like it
but persevere
through tutorials
served up
by excessively cheerful
young men
am told it all happens
post production !
contrasty stuff
and colour grading
rather complex
projecting the captured
and seemingly real
into a totally
hyperreal universe
like in cinema films
where you see too much
this is the measure they use

the other artist
called Jenny, arrives
she is older and chatty
a relief
she is steady and calm
we chat over a meal
with Lin from Taiwan
and talk about life
at home and away

Norwegians (apparently) are wealthy
unless they’re alcoholics
on drugs or new from abroad
they are communal,egalitarian
Social Democrats
they pay high taxes
but don’t mind
they learn to ski in school
there are wolves and bears
hereabouts and beware of
Elks with baby Elks in tow
they are apt to rear up
and clatter you
with their front feet
in Taiwan they eat out
all the time
play base ball + basket-ball
aborigines live
in the central mountains
but work in the towns
their history is muddied
with that of China and Japan
about the UK I tell them
I live on the coast
a diverse and creative place
full of artists, photographers, musicians etc
we have lovely beaches and walks in the woods
where people walk their dogs + their children
no dangerous animals or weather
we have a terrible government
self-serving, draconian, philistine, mean

it’s cold outside
we put the heating on high
and huddle with hot drinks


Austmarka  |  minus 5 degrees  |  extra sunny

sunday morning – slept well
reading Karl Ove Knausgaard till late
perfecting the art of making toast in the oven
raspberry jam, tart against the crunchy toast
it’s extra sunny outside and deep in frost
there’s the weather and there’s food
to think about
there are snatched conversations to be had
and there are thoughts and ideas to develop

look at the map
there are 4 or 5 ways
out of the village
follow the path on the map
up to the forest
blue daubs mark
well-kept pathways
past the village hall – I’m guessing
up to the pine forest behind
there are dapples of sunlight
illuminating hillocky ground
between the trees
amongst the moss
that Paula loved,
I take out some props
and take some photos
the forest is warmer
my hands aren’t frozen
each twig and blade of grass
has a powdered coating
where the sun has not reached
all is covered in icing sugar
an imagined place

Up the steep hillside
guided by blue blobs
trampling stuff underfoot
there are rivulets of ice
slippery trecherous
keep checking the map
reach the road and over
down the other side
everything’s white
sky bright bright blue
no-one’s about
unsettled by silence
lack of life around
fierce dogs start barking
– are there wolves
will I be eaten alive ?
alternate between edginess and
desire to capture
just one more view
check the map – it’s further
than I thought
the placid lake I’m looking for
suddenly to the left, it’s there
all iced over – I nearly miss it
it’s slippery and boggy
what if I fall or slip…

it’s all very
…. Ansel Adams
what’s there to say
about a pine forest ?
is there soemthign here for me ?
this as a subject, a concept ?
all this nature – the sublime
I like it’s indifference
my feeling a speck
but what am I doing ?
I’m full of wonder at it all
but what ……

the time passes
I seem to fill it
ideas are forming
everything seems black and white
(apart form cerulean skies)
so that’s one way to go
there are vertical lines in the birch trees
and dark bubbling brooks
now the moon is huge and milky
I carry on thinking…

can’t face my 3 day soup again
perhaps I’ll make spaghetti


Austmarka | -5 degrees | sunny & cloudy

saturday morning – sleep till 8
awake in sweater and socks
there’s no one around
a hard frost is on the ground
make soup to last a few days
catch a bit of the news
troubles in Brussles
scrabble around for a map

go to Joker (village shop)
for milk, chat with the owner
who arrived here via Egypt & USA
like home, talking about the weather
breaks the ice – ha ha
take a walk along the river
it’s swirling dark brown water
froths and foams around boulders
it’s darkness is compelling
ice crystals are forming
on grass blades
on the handrail of the bridge
small rectangular crystals
stand on end
I photograph the turbulant water
the ice crystals
the upsidedown houses
there’s not a sound
my fingers are raw and red with cold
I film in 30 second bursts
down from a minute !
how long does it take for frost-bite
to take a hold – I wonder

miss a turning on the way back
and head our of town – quick panic
but find a way back and
I pass a car or two

saturday afternoon is cold
a whiling away time with a heater
a pile of Astrid’s books
loose a few hours looking at
photographic journals
(a few ideas here noted)
at stories of nordic women
living as farmers,
scientists, sauna therapists
of bone chilling poverty
and institutional harshness

the owner arrives
gets ready for her first christams party
not keen to do the fancy dress thing
she leaves with a split paper bag
over her head – with torn eye holes
worn under a floppy hat


Austmarka  | 1-3 degrees  | sunny

day three
21/11/2015 ~ rags24 ~ Edit

Austmarka | 1-3 degrees | sunny

looking at the maps
can’t tell which way round we are
the sun is shining brightly
through the birch trees
outside the kitchen window
keen to get out and about
wrap up warm
load up with camera
and bags for shopping
frost is still on the ground
the lake to the south
shimmers in the clear bright morning light
I love this kind of morning !
it’s cold – minus 8 in Oslo
I head toward the lake not sure which way to go
follow the path to the right
cat ice on the surface
and a loud but narrow waterfall
zigzaggs down the hill
through the dark woods
I take photos here and there
looking for patterns and rhythms
mixing film with video
don’t have a clear plan
just collecting data
fingers are frozen
the rest of me warm
gloves on and off
camera inside my coat
I come across abandoned buildings
take a few photos
hands are still frozen
can see an old white enamelled stove
but camera can’t read it
through the double glazed window
a wheelbarrow rests under a sloping bridge
leading to upper floor of a barn
dark rust red in colour
full of rubbish
on the way back
an upturned rowing boat
has been painted sky blue

fill up at the shop
keen for hot chocolate and bananas
in the studio
I make some plans-
no emails before 4
make a blog and write daily
take some photos
make some film
do some drawing
read stuff
making connections
in meandering fashion-
from Mary Wollstonecraft’s letters from Norway
observing landscape, philosophising on life
women, nature, society –                                                                                          and keeping it Norwegian                                                                                               to Hedda Gabler and the Dolls House
100 years later
women, intelligent and bored
in the way of many 19th century heroines
and back to Mary W and the Sublime and Beauty-
Norway in 18thC had a free press,
religious tolerance and a fair distribution of land
where all this leading
not sure I know….


Kongsvinger  |  3 degrees  |  cloudy

back at the Sentralstasjon

hot coffee in hand

all about are padded and muffled

grey and black

matt and flat

gloves and hats + hiking boots

the train travels smoothly

out of the city

through spindly woodlands

sparse and white with thin crisp snow

at Kongsvinger station – much smaller

than it’s google photograph –

cold winds dither round its 6 bus stops

bus driver asks where i’m going

and he drops me at the door !

the door is open and here is Astrid

welcoming and smiling

here’s the studio, and this is my story…

here’s the bathroom

this is your room – you can get a heater

there’s the kitchen and help yourself,

enjoy, be creative !

meet the shadowy boy from Taiwan

smiling sweetly and with halting english

he is friendly but moves quietly

from room to room to be alone

and meet the tired looking girl just back from

Oslo – buying canvas

she’s from Ottowa and a painter

in a Munch like manner

she seeks wintery residencies

in places just like home


to make a start I find an empty place

at the long table in the big windowed studio

it is warm and the heating blows noisily

in the background

am on Wi Fi and connect again

with the world

I make a plan

make a list – stuff to finish off

stuff to begin – stuff to think about

alone in the house,  in the dark,

near dense forests and deep lakes

it’s thrilling and strange

I can see myself and the glow of a small lamp

reflected in the window


left it rather late but

I cook an omelette in a pan

something smells horrible

it’s the smoking pan

with centuries of ancient acrid Elk fat

(I imagine – it is late after all!)

emanating from it’s base

I cook the omelette and feel

quite ill

the acrid smell becomes a taste

that lingers on until the next day