mandag 31. desember 2007

It´s my Dad´s birthday today! Gratulerer!

And Charlie´s birthday! And Hannah´s! Gratulerer to them too! It seems new year´s eve is a popular day to be born (I bet among polar bears too).

And a Happy New Year to everyone!

søndag 30. desember 2007

The Frozen Family goes to Barentsburg

Yesterday, the Frozen Family drove all the way to Barentsburg and back on their 2 snowmobiles/snowscooters (and I, as the only one, overturned only once). The temperature was -25C and it was pitch black.

I know loads of people have done the same trip many times, but for us it was a real adventure - and we learnt a few things too. For example, despite experiencing one of the coldest days of our lives (being from temperate Bergen), we didn´t freeze. That meant we´ve learnt how to dress for Svalbard. Nice.

Also, 50-60 km an hour is fast enough, thank you very much. 120 is for young daredevils, not for old mamas and papas. At least not for this old mama.

And of course - it´s weird driving through fantastic landscapes - and not seeing a thing. I can´t wait for the sun to return. From the top of the Longyear-glacier, we glimpsed a vague bluish light in the far south - strange to think that the sun is way down there, shining on everyone else.

Thomas on the snowmobile. All wrapped up and ready to go.

Parking in front of the hotel in Barentsburg, where we had lunch.

In the darkness it was difficult to see much of the town, but we´ll be back to have a better look later. However, our first impressions were: less streetlights than in Longyearbyen, and a LOT less cars and snowmobiles.

Some pictures of the interior. And the charming decorations.

Emma, a bit dubious about the main dish. Local pork and macaroni.

And then we returned to Longyearbyen. The whole trip (organised by Jon Sandmo) took more or less 6,5 hours, including the 2 hours in Barentsburg.

And today we´re happy to be back, but thrilled to have been.

torsdag 27. desember 2007

Shadows and light in Longyearbyen

- by the courtesy of Longyearbyen Lokalstyre:

A nice and big bubble of light in the middle, there. And only a few weeks away.

mandag 24. desember 2007

My twin-brother and I

- and lots of polar bear cubs - are celebrating their birthday today - gratulerer!

Most polar bears are born in the last week of December, and many of them on the 24th. A good day to be born. Happy Birthday!

søndag 23. desember 2007

Julehefte, by Thomas

This is written and illustrated by Thomas in December 2006, when we were talking a lot about the move to Svalbard. It´s the dramatic story about Tuba who survives a plane-crash by the help of a dolphin, and returns to her happy parents in Longyearbyen.


Det var en gang en jente som het Tuba. Hun var bare 6 År Gammel. Hun bodde på SvalBard. Hun hadde fått mange Problemer. På fredag ble Hun angripet av en Isbjørn, og på søndag ble hun overkjørt av hjulene på et Jetfly som skulle ut til Rullebanen og Lette. dagen etter ble hun Plaget av noen rampegutter på Skolen.

Men neste dag ble det verre. Nemlig når hun skulle ta en flytur, styrtet flyet ned i Havet. Flyet hadde verken rednignsvest eller redningsbåt, og hun Kunne ikke svømme.

Så derfor sank Hun ned på Havets Bunn. Men så ble det Bedre. Hun ble nemlig reddet av en Delfin. Delfinen svømte opp på Land med Tuba.

Så dro delfinen av gårde for å fange fisk til Tuba. Neste dag våknet Tuba. Hun spiste fisken hun hadde fått av delfinen til frokost. Etterpå begynte hun og øve på å svømme. Plutselig kunne hun det.

Ja, hun kunne tilomed dykke. Hun svømte tilbake til longyearbyen. Foreldrene hennes var svært engstelige for Hvor hun hadde vært. Plutselig kom det en liten S-T-E-M-M-E.
Det lød - hei,hei! Hhæææ?! Det er…………………T-U-B-A-! SKATTEN MIN. Du er Tilbake!! Ja, det er jeg.


God Jul!

fredag 21. desember 2007

Adventures above ground and under


My parents have been visiting - a very pleasant visit for us all, until the journey home... It started with delays in Longyearbyen, delays in Tromsø, and then chaos in Oslo, at Gardermoen Airport. Due to fog and ice, the whole airport was as good as closed all yesterday afternoon and evening - clogged with the home-for-christmas crowds.

And my parents in the middle. My mother on crutches.

My brother lives in Oslo, but he´s in South Africa at the moment. We managed to get hold of a neighbour who could let them into his flat - and after finding their luggage in the chaos, then getting onto the shuttle train to Oslo, my parents could go to sleep in his flat...

This morning they took the train to Bergen, and will arrive there in a couple of hours. The conditions at Gardermoen have improved slightly, but are still chaotic, apparently.

My parents, oblivious of the impending ordeal.


Last Tuesday, my father, Emma and I - and two friends, Heidi and Åse Kristine, visited Gruve 7, Coal Mine 7, that provides the coal for Longyearbyen. We were told, by our very enthusiastic guide Steve Torgersen, that Gruve 7 is the only functioning coal mine in the world that allows visitors. It´s a small operation, kept going because of Longyearbyen´s need for fuel.

We weren´t allowed to bring cameras (or any other electric device), because of the danger of igniting the coal dust - a tiny spark can ignite high density dust clouds. But I´ve nicked a couple of pictures from Svalbard Explorer.

This could have been us, in the Ohleman-vehicle, keeping our heads as low as possible under the low set "ceiling" (hengen).

Our guide, Steve. Imagine more darkness and dust, and this is how it was, more or less. I have a hint of claustrophobia, so personally I was happy to get out (but happy to have been, too!).

Earlier this year, they found 55 million years old tracks from a pantodont in the mine, the first proof of that kind of mammal in Europe, apparently. More about that here and here.

Åse Kristine has given a thorough description of our visit (in Norwegian) in her blog, so why not check that out?

torsdag 20. desember 2007

Preparing for Jul, part II

Little did it know, the tree that found itself on the North Pole (or thereabouts), that our house would be it´s final destination.

Purchasing (we had to rush to get it, as there was a limited number of trees) ...

... transporting it home (on the spark - now, what´s the English word for that contraption?)...

... shoving it into the living-room -

and decorating it. Not nearly finished yet - we´re creating the decorations on a day-to-day basis.

But listen: every christmas I marvel at the weirdness of the whole tree-thing - dragging a pine-tree into the house and decorating it?! What kind of strange ritual is this? The crib that they have in southern Europe has some logic to it - but a tree? To make it even weirder - this tree was grown somewhere on the mainland, and shipped across the Barenz sea to a desolate island near the north pole. We should have made our own, like they did in the old days.

I´m sorry, the above was an untimely lapse into practicality. Christmas does not, after all, make sense. To get back in spirit - here´s one from the school. Aren´t they lovely?

lørdag 15. desember 2007

This is what I do

I realize I haven´t really mentioned what I fill my days with - some of you might´ve wondered what I do when I´m not writing blog-entries or dodging polar bears. Well, this is what I do:

Mainly, I work on my own projects. I have an exhibition coming up at the Galleri Svalbard in April that I´m really excited about (and a little anxious...). I´m pleased that I´ve got the chance to work on something proper - it´s a good room for big pieces and I´m planning to use the whole space.

Also, I have another project that I´m working on, which I hope will turn into something, in a gallery somewhere, sometime... Some of it looks like this:

The idea is to have it printed on textiles. But it may never get that far.

I´ve been teaching a little at the local school too - guess what, gymnastics! Anyone who knew me when I was a kid should laugh heartily at this point, as I hated gymnastics (it´s not really gymnastics, I suppose, but more encouraging 8-9 year-olds to run around and - hopefully - having fun at the same time).

... stretching out is essential.

I also teach a bit of arts-and-craft, which I think I´m better qualified to do. In January, as a part of arts-and-crafts, I´m going to teach 13-15 year-olds a photo-editing program called - that should be fun. And another project for January is teaching at a drawing-course for grown-ups. That is, it will only happen if the course gets enough participants. I hope it will, as that could be fun too.

And, I´ve also upgraded my website recently - I think it looks a lot better than it did. I´ve moved it´s location too, but hopefully you won´t notice.

So, this was a peek into how I while away the dark winter days: busy, but not too busy.

Which is, incidentally, just the way I like it.

tirsdag 11. desember 2007

Preparing for Jul, part I

søndag 9. desember 2007

UNIS and Olafur Eliasson

The UNIS-building is quite interesting, consisting of two parts, an old building from the nineties or so, when UNIS was established, and a quite new one, finished in 2005. Personally I don´t like the exterior very much, but the inside is wonderful. The new part of the building is big and cosy at the same time - airy corridors and slanting walls, and a quiet atmosphere (the quietness may partly be due to the fact that noone wears shoes, as it´s a tradition in Longyearbyen to remove your shoes when you enter most buildings).

It´s difficult to introduce art into such a defined environment, I suppose, because there´s little of that on the walls (except for traditional prints in the corridors). But the Danish artist Olafur Eliasson has made a piece that was presented earlier this week (actually, they called it a Public Inaugeration Ceremony. Whatever. It included champagne).

His installation consists of long pieces of glass(?) on the outside of the window, treated with a kind of foil or film that functions as a lens. A strong lightsource on the outside passes through the installation and is perceived as a spectre of colours on the inside. But it changes as you pass, so it has a nice interactive feel to it.

Up till now nobody has really noticed the installation (it´s been up for several weeks), because apparently there´s been some difficulties with the lighting. But they´ve definetely got it right now - it looked really nice, I think.

I only wonder what it will be like when the sun returns. The artist didn´t know himself, it seemed. The window faces north, so the only time the sun has approximately a similar angle on the installation is around midnight. When the building is empty.

It must be have been difficult introducing art into surroundings that look so amazing in themselves - the view towards Hiorthfjellet and the huge sky, and the architecture of the room in itself is hard to compete with. You could argue that the art-piece really is redundant.

But still, I like Eliasson´s art - I´ve never seen one of his works in real-life, but from the moment someone described his Weather Project with the gigantic "sun" in Tate Modern in London, I´ve been a fan.

He gave a talk about his ideas around the installation, about the relationship between light as we perceive it and real light, and how he wanted the installation to give associations to natural light-phenomena like the northern lights or a rainbow.

Listening to his talk gave me associations to being back at the art school in Bergen - I enjoyed it a lot! But I suppose I´ve become used to the confusing logic of art-production. I think, however, that a lot of the listeners were left more bewildered than enlightened...

Anyway - here´s his homepage. He´s a busy man.

PS: Let´s hope it doesn´t suffer the same destiny as a previous art-piece did, a sculpture made in 1995 by Paul Brand, that was removed quite brutally in 2005 when the new part of the building was planned, and then ended up on the tip on the mainland. I understand that it was supposed to transport water that would freeze and create an ice sculpture - but that it stopped working during the first winter, and never was repaired. The locals were not fond of it, and the whole incident is now treated as a joke. Too bad ...

fredag 7. desember 2007

Eliza 106 years old! Today! Gratulerer!

The kids´ great-grandmother (GG), William´s grandmother, is 106 years old! Wow!

Eliza is a very special person, who kept coming to Norway every summer until she was 99 years old, to visit her daughter in Bergen.

The first time I met her in USA, was in easter 1991 in Manhattan, when she drove in and picked us up in her car, to take us to Long Island. She was 89 at the time, and fit as a fiddle.

She´s definetely one of the most harmonious human beings I know of, and with a wonderful sense of humour. She lives in her home in Long Island, New York, and is a VERY old lady, so she won´t read this blog. But I know that lots of people are thinking about her today. So again, congratulations!

.... and so it turned out that my birthday wasn´t next after all (strictly speaking, millions of people will celebrate their birthdays between now and the 24th, but you know what I mean...).

mandag 3. desember 2007

Busy weekend

As already mentioned, Thomas had a birthday-party on Saturday, but that wasn´t the only thing that took place during the coldest weekend so far (-14 - -17C).

On Sunday, the christmas-tree on the "market-square" was lit, with a big crowd of people watching.

Lokalstyreleder Kjell Mork held a speech...

... and the crowd took some turns around the tree, singing christmas-carols. If they didn´t, they were told julenissen (Santa) wouldn´t turn up. So they sang, and he came.

I must say that the tree is pathetically small. (But a huggable size, at least.)

I didn´t do any singing, neither did I get a glimpse of Santa, as I had to return indoors where I painted faces at the christmas market.

Kathy and I painting (sceptical) kids´ faces...

And here´s Vilde, a happy customer!

More pictures from the market, a very nice and traditional one.

And coming home - one of Santa´s reindeer, grazing outside our front door.

I warn you, from now on there´ll be a lot of christmas-stuff!

Thomas 8 years old! Today! Gratulerer!

The little brother is not so little anymore.

His BIG passion at the moment is lego, and Simpsons. So that´s what he got this morning - and more presents await...

And here´s a couple of pictures from the party last Saturday.

Blowing out the candles on the cake that big brother Peter made.

So whose birthday is next? Ah, mine.... In three weeks from today, and counting...