Views and Visions from the Wild

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Views and Visions from the Wild My artist in residence at Røst and Skomvær 10.7–6.8.2020 SIMON GRIPENBERG



Views and Visions from the Wild My artist in residence at Røst and Skomvær 10.7–6.8.2020 SIMON GRIPENBERG


Texts/pictures/sketches/projects/ideas/layout: Simon Gripenberg 2020 The trip and the publication was realized with support from Svensk-Ă–sterbottniska Samfundet ISBN 978-952-94-4321-5


Contents 01. Prologue....................................................................................................... 6 02. Getting there – Traveling green and corona clean................................ 13 03. Spending some days at Røstlandet........................................................ 29 04. Arriving at Skomvær – The lighthouse and the social dimension...... 48 05. Orcas and everyday life........................................................................... 62 06. Waffles, White beaches and some fishing............................................. 72 07. Macro photography and an abrupt departure...................................... 78 08. Sunshine in Ráhkka and and a rainy evening in Ivgobahta................. 95 09. Leaving Sápmi and returning home..................................................... 102 10. Some projects – sketches and ideas..................................................... 111 11. Vegan chocolate cake............................................................................. 162 12. Maps, routes and some statistics.......................................................... 164


01.

Prologue In the autumn of 2018

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I spent a month at Mustarinda AiR in the Kainuu region of Finland (www.mustarinda.fi). Mustarinda is located in a remote abandoned school building next to the Paljakka Strict Nature Reserve and the residency promotes and encourages a transition towards a post-fossil society. Since I believe in the concept of biomimicry, I looked for inspiration in the surrounding old growth forests and made different low-tech wind turbine projects on an experimental basis (see issuu.com/simonshares and youtube.com/simonshares). I picked up a flyer about Røst AiR in Norway and during the month I also shortly met Elin Már Øyen Vister, who is running the residency. She was spending some days at Mustarinda at the time, participating in a group project. After the residency, which affected me in many ways, I continued making projects on the theme of (s)low-tech, e.g. a wind sculpture for The Museum of Technology in Helsinki (see pages 9–10).

As time passed by,

I once again started to fantasize about another residency month somewhere and Røst AiR sprung back into my mind. I applied for a residency for summer or autumn 2020. After some discussions we agreed that July-August would be ideal. Then came the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. I thought that I would have to cancel or postpone the residency, but the situation in Finland and Norway calmed down just in time, the borders were opened and travel was again allowed between the two countries. However, I was thinking

back and forth many times before I made the final decision to go. Was the Corona situation stable enough? The last thing I wanted was to be the foreigner who brings the corona virus to the small island society of Røst. We agreed that the trip should be safe. Elin also consulted the local healthcare service on Røst. As I stopped flying several years ago for climate reasons and Røst AiR supports green&slow travel, I had to figure out a new route. My original plan was to take the ferry from Vaasa to Umeå and then continue with train to Áhkanjárga (Narvik). However, the corona spread in Sweden was uncontrolled at the time, which meant that I was not allowed to travel through the country. The next best option was to go north through Sápmi. The distance is longer but I was excited

to experience these places that were unknown to me. As we had never been on a family vacation to Norway, we decided to combine transportation with pleasure and thus made a trip together with car to Lofuohtta (Lofoten). I then continued to Røst as the rest of the family headed back home. This felt like a good alternative. I would have preferred bus and train for environmental reasons, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic it felt safer to travel with own car at that very moment. At least, I had converted our old Saab 9-3 to run on ethanol (www.eflexfuel.fi), which is said to reduce CO2-emissions with about 80% compared to ordinary gasoline, as the E85 and RE85 fuels in Finland are made from waste material from the forest industry. After my stay at Røst AiR I used public transportation to get back home. This felt safe, since I spent several weeks on the remote island of Skomvær, voluntarily being in quarantine. The COVID-19 situation was still quite under control and I additionally avoided to travel during the weekend, when it would have been more crowded. The residency

was very inspiring for me. Being grateful for the opportunity and wanting to share my experiences in some way, I made this publication. Since I want to tell a personal story, I decided to transcript my handwritten diary into English and then combine it with pictures,


sketches and other graphics. I made some minor additions to the original diary text and I also checked some facts to get the details right. My mother language is Swedish and I didn’t have the resources to order a professional language review, so I apology for any language inaccuracies. At first, I thought

about titles like ”A Topographic Trip” or ”A Trip in Topography”, since there is a huge difference in topography between flat Ostrobothnia and mountainous Lofuohtta. The word ”topography” can also describe the way the story in this publication is written. The text combines a simple flat diary format – including self-evident conclusions like ”the ice cream tastes good” and ”the weather is lovely” – with reflections and statements about e.g. climate change, environmental issues, sustainability and Sámi culture. Hopefully this dualistic approach appeals to a broader range of readers. I also hope that people that have never applied for nor experienced a residency in the periphery can get some insights and inspiration from this publication.

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Enough of explaining, lets hit the road! Welcome to Lofuotta, Røst and Skomvær! Simon Gripenberg

I have just packed my stuff together after a tent night in Moskenes and head for the bus through Lofouhtta towards Ráhkka.


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“The Wind Obelisk�, an off the grid light sculpture that stands in front of The Museum of Technology in Helsinki. It promotes low tech solutions and raises questions about peak oil, climate change and the urge of a transition towards renwable energy (2019).



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“Perca navicula” was made for the municipality of Larsmo. The Fish´n´boat sculpture is made of stainless and cor-ten steel. It symbolizes the dependece and the ever ongoing interaction between nature and culture (2020).



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Early evening by lake Kesänkijärvi in Äkäslompolo


02.

Getting there –Traveling green and corona clean Friday 10 July

Jakobstad–Äkäslompolo We leave from Jakobstad on the west coast

of Finland early in the morning (see maps on pages 165–169). The spirit is high and the car is fully packed. We brought e.g. tents, a mobile cooking system and own food with us to have the possibility to avoid hotels and restaurants, depending on the COVID-19 situation. After eating lunch by the sea in Ii, refueling the car in Duortnus (Tornio) and stretching our legs in Pello we reach Äkäslompolo in the early evening. We have booked an apartment that´s owned and rented by an association from Jakobstad. After sitting a whole day in the car it is nice to take a walk along the north side of lake Kesänkijärvi towards the base of Pirunkuru, a steep and rocky

ravin. To our surprise, there are not that many mosquitos. We pass by an old fishing hut and fantasize that it once belonged to president Urho Kekkonen, but we are not completely sure about that. Kekkonen was an eager fisherman and there is a National Park by the eastern border named after him. It is one of the largest protected areas in Finland. On our way back we meet some people riding fatbikes. Our daughters are fascinated by how different the landscape appears now in summer, compared to when we were here last winter, skiing cross country. Saturday 11 July

Äkäslompolo–Gilbbesjávri After a good night’s sleep

and a slow breakfast we experience some more of Äkäslompolo and refuel the car. No Eko E85 can be found here, so I have to use ordinary 95E10. I should have brought some canisters. We drive towards Muoná (Muonio) along smaller, beautiful roads. This is a day of slow traveling. The distance from Äkäslompolo to Gilbbesjávri (Kilpisjärvi) is only about 250 kilometers, but we stop several times just to enjoy the landscape and to make lunch on the outdoor stove. The weather is lovely. As the names on the road signs no appear in both Sámi and Finnish, I start thinking about different cultures and the perspective of time. Reflect-

ing about Sápmi gives you a healthy reminder of our awkward colonialism when it comes to indigenous people. In Gilbbesjávri

we take a slow walk from the Kilpisjärvi Visitor Center up to lake Čáhkáljávri that lies beneath Sána, which is a holy mountain for Sámi people. The landscape is beautiful. It is raining lightly and my left thigh is quite sore. I had a leg injury some weeks ago when I was out orienteering, it is probably a minor muscle rupture. The leg is getting better but I feel that when bended, it still cant’t support all of my weight. I have to walk carefully, because the trail is quite steep at some points. I am actually a bit worried about the topography of Lofuohtta, but as long as I will take it slow and keep to the valleys it should be ok. We think about

ordering take-away food from a restaurant in Gilbbesjávri, but it is very crowded and there is a long queue. Instead, we buy some fish soup and bread from the local store and drive up to a parking lot by Muotkatakka, which is the highest road point in Finland (at an elevation of 565 meters), and heat the soup on the outdoor stove. This is a bit challenging because of the heavy rain and the enormous amount of mosquitos that drown in the soup before we get back into the car to eat – but

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hey, they say insects are a good source of protein. The soup is however yummy. Since we brought tents with us, we think that as a contrast to this budjet alternative we can afford ourselves a more luxurious overnight stay. My partner is eager to experience a night in a glass igloo so she booked one for us, close to Gilbbesjávri. The daughters are also excited, because apparently a well-known Finnish pop-star slept in the igloo the previous night. I have to admit it is a special experience. You get the comfort of a hotel room and total calmness, surrounded by a reindeer farm, a lake and mountains. It is a nice experience, but I prefer the tent myself. In a glass igloo you are visually connected with the landscape through the windows, but since the construction is well insulated you can’t hear and sense the wind nor the fragrances of nature. The concept with the glass igloos and the reindeer farm once again reminds me that I really should learn more about the Sámi history and culture. As a coincidence, I happen to find an interesting interview with Sámi activist Jenni Laiti, as I lay down and read the news. Jenni says that she often feels like being a Sámi dictionary, having to explain the same old facts over and over again. The knowledge about Sápmi has been out there for a long time, it is now about time for us in the majority to show some interest and respect.

Sunday 12 July

Gilbbesjávri-Gávvalváhki Our plan for today

is to leave from Gilbbesjávri early in the morning, see a bit of Finnmárku and then spend the next night somewhere in Lofuohtta. After fueling the car (no Eko E85 here neither) we pass by a crashed car in the trench, which give me a reminder about driving extra carefully. We cross an open border. No one stops us at the control station, but some kilometers into Norway a police car is parked next to the road. A kind police officer checks our ID´s and we promise her that we will remember to bring our children back to Finland.

It is strange

when it comes to borders, topography and the distribution of mountains. All the Finnish mountains are relatively flat whereas both the Swedish and the Norwegian landscape is more alpine. The scenery changes dramatically already when we drive down towards Ivgobahta (Skibotn). Still thinking about borders, I recall a special concert that I enjoyed in my youth. The artist on stage was Thomas Di Leva, who also describes himself as ”The warrior of love”. As symbols of love and care, he threw oranges to the audience while drinking water from a colorful water can. Between some songs he questioned the whole idea with drawing borders between

people: ”The borders on the maps don’t really exist, they are just a result of our imagination” – what a simple truth. As I am

behind the steering wheel, I can’t take in the whole scenery between Gilbbesjávri and Ivgobahta. On the first stretch of our trip on the Norwegian side I have to stay totally focused on the road and the traffic, because the route is completely unfamiliar to me. After a while we enter the municipality of Balsfjord and make a stop at a gas station in Gárgán (Nordkjosbotn), a small village that lies in the end of a misty fjord. It starts raining and after some more driving we stop at a parking lot in the middle of nowhere to eat some sandwiches and yogurt. We pass through

Beardogorži (Bardufoss) and then make a quick stop in Setermoen to withdraw some cash. As it is Sunday this is the one and only open cash machine along our route – according to Google. I posses a credit card that I never use, except from occasionally ordering something on internet. I have a principle of living as debt free as possible, since I don’t want to be a slave of the economic system. In these times of climate change and biodiversity loss I think that we should really question the naive illusion of infinite economic growth, instead of desperately spinning the wheel of consumption even


Short break near MuonĂĄ.

E85 :)

At the highest road point in Finland.

Preparing lunch on the outdoor stove.

Rainy evening by lake Peerajärvi.

Toilet break just before Ivgobahta .

RE85 :)

Eating breakfast in a glass igloo.

95E10 :(


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Walking down the trail from ฤ รกhkรกljรกvri.


faster. However, the reason we stop in Setermoen is that I always want to carry some cash with me when traveling abroad, just in case. It is better to be safe than sorry. Due to digitalization and greed, the Finnish banks hardly provide any local customer service anymore. I would have had to order Norwegian crowns by post and doubt that I would have gotten the money before our departure. As we climb

up to higher altitudes on Fossbakken the landscape is getting more dramatical, the feeling is accentuated by the rainy weather. We stretch our legs by Lapphaugvatnet (which doesn´t sound like a respectful name from a Sámi point of view) and enjoy the view from a war memorial site in Rivtták (Gratangen municipality) before we accelerate down the steep road towards Ráhkka (Bjerkvik). I am glad that we decided to install new brake discs and pads on the car earlier in the summer. We’re getting hungry and decide to stop at a small parking lot in Dielddanuorri (Tjeldsund). It’s only a couple of meters down to a rocky beach. Officially, we’re not yet in Lofuohtta but the view over the fjord and the surrounding mountains is already spectacular – we are getting a taste of what´s to come. We nibble on carrots while boiling potatoes and frying meatballs. It seems like the tide is getting higher.

You have to be careful as the difference between low and high tide can be about 2–3 meters – but we get to eat, rest and enjoy the landscape before getting of the beach and continuing. Whereas the topography

of flat Ostrobothnia I almost linear, Norway is the total opposite. The driving is thus a bit exciting. Sometimes, when I slow down a bit at a steep curve or at a steep brow of a hill, I sense a stressed local resident on my back. Maybe it is someone who has to catch a ferry and is too optimistic about the timetable. Although the distances are not that long measured in kilometers, my advice is to reserve sufficient time for the driving. Personally, I think the whole idea with experiencing Lofuohtta is to do it in a slow manner. What’s the point of stressing through this beautiful scenery? I would have liked to spend some nights in tent, but the weather seems a bit unstable so we make a family decision, and book a small cabin by a camping site in Gávvalváhki (Kabelvåg). The pictures on the booking site looked far better than reality. It’s even hard to believe that it’s the same place. Somebody has somehow managed to find a good photo angle that hides the flaws. Although the cabin is shabby we sleep perfectly well, and the surroundings are at least magnificent.

In the early morning,

I follow my daughter to the common toilets. Nobody else is yet awake as the sun just rises over the mountains and blinds us. A Tesla car on charge shimmers as it is hit by the magical morning light. Is this a concrete sign for an on-going car revolution? I am myself both optimistic and sceptic about the potential of electrical cars. Of course, we need to phase out fossil fuels. But producing lots of new cars requires a huge amounts of energy and virgin materials, not to forget the social conditions for the people, sometimes children, mining rare earth metals needed for the batteries. How much can this production be scaled up before we cause new environmental and social issues? Primarily, I think we should focus on driving less, favoring public transportation and reusing old cars in clever ways. Converting your motor to run on biogas or bioethanol is probably one of the more cost-effective solutions. Furthermore, a lot of people can’t afford an electric car and many young people don’t even want to own a car, but rather rely on a sharing economy. I sense a Norwegian double morality as the country is drilling for oil with one hand and supporting Teslas with the other. Without the oil economy you wouldn’t see this many Teslas. It is a kind of paradox that the oil economy is essential for affording the electric car pool and infrastructure with chargers.

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Boiling potatoes in Dielddanuorri.


When it comes to

double morality, I have to admit that Finland isn’t much better. Instead of oil we have huge forests and the holy forest industry claiming that Finland is super green. However, there are almost no old growth forests left, but mostly monocultural tree plantations. Sweden on the other hand – the country who wants to be seen as a forerunner when it comes to e.g. democracy and humanism – has its awkward weapon industry. The activist in me thinks, why don’t make a fancy ”Nordic Double Morality” myth-debunking campaign instead of all these colorful ”Visit Norway”, ”Visit Finland” and ”Visit Sweden” posters? (see pages 155–156). On the other hand, I have promised myself not to turn cynical. It feels better to focus on the good alternatives instead of fighting against a crackling system that anyway soon belongs to the past.

Monday 13 July

Gávvalváhki–Bøstad Before heading further

west we need to fuel the car. Sadly, I don’t find any bioethanol here neither, so I once again have to rely on ordinary E95. It’s, however, understandable that in the land of fossil oil (and less forests) ordinary gasoline is still prioritized before bioethanol.

It is a lazy Monday

morning as we stop by the cozy city center of Gávvalváhki. The sun is shining and to our joy we happen to find an ice cream kiosk that is already open. What’s a better way to start the day than with ”Kremen av Iskremen”? Right beside the kiosk I notice posters for the ”Leve havet!” campaign that strives for a fossil free Lofuohtta, Viestterálas (Vesterålen) and Sážža (Senja). It gives me comfort to see that there are people here fighting for these good purposes. Our plan for the day

is to drive only short distances and experience as much as possible of Austvågøya, Gimsøya and Vestvågøy. After previous days of driving we are looking forward to a slow tourist day. Since it is Monday there is not much traffic. One of my friends, who visited Lofuohtta some years ago with his family, lended me a guidebook. This is handy as we easily can find some favorite spots. I am not eager to climb any higher mountains with my sore leg so first we go to Hoven, which is a stand-alone mountain on Gimsøya. I suddenly get excited, as we drive west around Hoven and pass by an abandoned house with a large mural graffiti painting by the Norwegian artist Pøbel (www.pobel.no). It seems like this Banksy-like artist has many interesting projects going on. To get on the hiking trail to Hoven (368 m.a.s.l.), which is one of the lower mountains in Lofuohtta, we have

to use the parking lot of a golf club. I walk to the club house and pay a fee to get access to the parking lot. The trail up to the top is claimed to be easy and family friendly, but because of my leg we don’t make it to the top. Instead, we have an outdoor lunch halfway up the mountain, which already gives us a spectacular view towards Austvågøya, Vestvågøya and the Norwegian Sea, which is part of the North Atlantic Ocean. After climbing down we enter the car and head for Vestvågøya. We pass by the Lofotr Viking museum in Bøstad, that seems to be crowded. Because of the possible COVID-19 risks we continue along Vikingveien to Vikbukta and Vik beach instead. This is a good decision since the weather is perfect: an open horizon, white sand and turquoise colored water – all surrounded by beautiful snow-covered mountains. The sea water is a bit chilly though (about 12 degrees celsius), but you can´t get everything at once. We have coffee and snacks at the beach before driving back to the Furu Hostel&Café in Bøstad. Since my partners last name is Furu she felt that she just had to book a night for us here. A young surfer couple have turned this abandoned elderly home into a super cozy and affordable hostel in ingenious ways, for example by consistently using plywood and recycled materials. The service, the atmosphere and the food is really good. I strongly recommend this place.

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Thusday 14 July Bøstad–Å

I wake up early

after a sleeping really deeply. As I feel energized, I carefully close the fabric curtain in front of my bed, not to wake the others up, switch the light on and grab my sketchbook. Many different ideas about possible residency projects have already crossed my mind. As the rest of the family wakes up, we do our morning routines, pack our stuff together and go down to the dining room to start the day of with some yummy and healthy smoothie-bowls.

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After a short morning stroll

to ”The Beach” we head southwest towards and through Liehkke (Leknes). A sharp turn right then keeps us on the E10 road which will eventually lead us to Å, the outermost village of Lofuohtta. After some kilometers The Nappstraum tunnel takes us from Vestvågøya to Flakstadøya. Since the roads get narrower and there are more tourists, cyclists, caravans and motorhomes around the driving is slow – which suites us perfectly. We make several extra stops on Flakstadsøya and Moskenesøya just to enjoy the amazing landscapes. It is fascinating to see how the infrastructure is adapted to the landscape. We pass some narrow bridges that have traffic lights since there is only space to drive in one direction at a time. It is healthy for

us to experience this. In Ostrobothnia you don’t have to worry about optimizing the usage of horizontal surfaces, because there is a lot of available space due to the flatness of the landscape. Here in outer Lofuohtta every square meter is important and the expression ”shared space” gets concrete. People here seem to co-exist in a smoother way, as we noticed at the camping site in Gávvalváhki. We check out

a camping site that is just a stone’s throw away from the harbor in Moskenes, where I will board the ferry tomorrow. The camping is fully booked except for a couple of tent places. If I had been alone I would have raised the tent anywhere, but with the family around we agree to search for a more comfortable solution. It is also because of COVID-19 that we decide to look for a place that isn’t that crowded. According to booking sites everything nearby is fully booked. It seems like a lot of Norwegians as well as quite many Finns and Germans are thinking the same way as we do: that Lofuohtta is a great place for a vacation abroad, since other countries aren’t an alternative because of the corona pandemic. Once in Lofuohtta we get the idea to experience sleeping in an idyllic Rorbuer, a traditional Norwegian fishing hut. To our amusement we happen to bump into a Rorbuer in Sørvågen that is named Klingenberg – which is also the surname of our best friends back home

in Finland. By the way, here is also a Simon Hostel, named after me. However, nobody answers at the Klingenberg Rorbuer when I call the number written by the door, so we continue a couple of kilometers to Å where we find a vacant fishing hut by the pier, literally at the end of the road – what a relief. At this stage

the mood is low as everybody is starving. We quickly drive back the short distance to Reine, because we are told that there are more restaurants. It takes us a while to find a vacant parking space. The sun is gazing and people say this is unusually warm for Lofuohtta. Sadly, climate change happens faster up in the north. We spot an empty table on a terrace in front of a restaurant that actually serves ordinary food. This is perfect, since we are all tired of tourist menus with pizzas, hamburgers and fries. The mood returns with the food. We get fascinated by tiny human silhouettes on top of the steep peak of Reinebringen and an open lorry that passes by the harbor with an enormous amount of traditional Tørrfisk. The conditions here are optimal for drying cod outside in the sun and the wind. On our way through Lofuohtta we saw lots of wooden racks for drying the fish. The racks are really aesthetic and graphical – a minimalistic design that serves its purpose.


Approaching yet another bridge.

Blinded by the morning light. Tesla on charge in Gávvalváhki.

Waking up in Gávvalváhki.

Family selfie.

View from Hoven towards Austvågøya.

Approaching Hoven.

A view towards Festvågtind.

Graffiti work of Pøbel on Gimsøya.

Somewhere on the middle of Flakstadøya.


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The Vik Beach near Leknes.


We agree on

completing the day with ice cream. Since Reine feels quite touristic we head back towards Å. On a distance it looks like there has been a accident or a giant traffic jam at the crossings from the harbor back onto E10. After a while I notice that it is only a tourist bus that has parked in the middle of the crossings. The egoistic bus driver apparently thinks that it is a good idea to let all passengers out in the middle of the road to get a good photo angle of Reine. What looked like a traffic jam was only a long row of cars parked along the main E10 road, since there is a lack of parking space for all the hikers. However, we get safely back to Å and get the much appreciated ice cream. We take a short evening walk along to outermost pier of Lofuohtta, that happens to be just besides of the fishing hut that we rent. The sky is clear so we are able to spot both Mosken and Værøy, and I can point out to my daughters in which direction I am going tomorrow.

Wednesday 15 July Moskenes–Røst

Some sea gulls

are trying to rip a trash bag apart outside the hut as we wake up from a good night’s sleep. There is no hurry since the ferry MF Værøy leaves at 9:45 am and it’s only a short

distance to the harbor in Moskenes. We have plenty of time for eating breakfast and tidying up the rooms. It has been some joyful days together with the family. I am sure that it will be nice for us to recall this trip later in the cold mid-winter when we are living our everyday life. We arrive at the harbor well in advance and the family joins me as I walk down to the gate for pedestrians and cyclists. Since I don’t travel with car, I don’t even have to buy a ticket. A guy from the ferry company just asks me to write down my name on the passenger list. It feels sad to split up here and everybody has

tears in their eyes. We give each other some warm hugs and I am on my way. My leg is still quite sore and I somehow feel stupid walking aboard MF Værøy with my giant and heavy backpack, heading for a remote island – hopefully it will be alright. On the contrary, it would feel weird to change my mind about the trip at this late stage. At least there is a doctor on Røst, in case the leg would get worse. I think about the rest of the family and their trip back home. My partner has some days of tough driving ahead of her now that she is alone with the kids. I reminded her of splitting the trip into short enough distances, since there is no hurry. It makes no difference if they return back home a couple of days later than planned, as long as the journey is safe.

MF Værøy

is a modern ship that looks extra safe and stable. I imagine that’s needed here when the sea gets rough. To my relief there are not that many passengers so it’s easy to keep a social distance – once again thinking about COVID-19. My plan is to avoid public transportation during the weekends when it can get crowded. I hear some other Finnish passengers but it mostly seems to be local people going back to Værøy and Røst, and not that many tourists. After a short while we pass by Moskenstraumen, one of the most powerful tidal currents in the world, famous already a long time ago. For example, Jules Verne and Edgar Allan Poe mention it in ”Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” and “A Descent into the Maelström”, although they both exaggerated and falsely described it as a single gigantic whirlpool. After some googling I find an interesting document about a theory from the 16th century that claimed that there is an underwater tunnel from Moskenstraumen back to Mearrabađaluokta (Gulf of Bothnia) outside Ostrobothnia. This would give me the possibility to return home with submarine, I must though admit I am somehow sceptic about this old theory. The name

of the first island after Lofuohtta is Mosken, and after one and a half hour we enter the harbor in Sørland on Værøy. The anchored

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Refueling the car in Gávvalváhki.

Chilling out in Bøstad.

Enjoying world’s northernmost beer.

No RE85, so I have to use Bensin 95 :(

Waking up in Bøstad.

Change of drivers.

Plywood details at FURU Hostel&Café.

A painted Owl.

Vik Beach.

Yet another Kodak moment.

Hostel sign made of an old surfboard.

Tired and hungry.

Following a marked trail.

Retro details at FURU Hostel&Café.

Stretching our legs on Flakstadøya.

Reaching Å, the outermost village.


A traditional fishing village.

Walking towards the Moskenes Church

At the pier in Å. Værøy on the horizon.

Å.

Awaiting MF Værøy.

The outermost part of Lofuohtta.

Heading for Værøy.

A view in the direction of Bodø.

Mosken.

Leaving Lofuohtta behind us.

Approaching Værøy.

Just saw some Orcas.

Behind the wave breaker in Værøy.

A short stop in Værøy.

Racks for drying fish.

Leaving Værøy and heading for Røst.


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fishing vessels and the industry buildings tells me that the main source of outcome is fishing. What first looks like a weather station on top of one of the mountains is actually a NATO radar station. I am sure that this is a great spot from where to monitor the North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean. Personally, I think that weather is far more important and should be more prioritized then warfare, especially in times of climate change. When it comes to weather, Værøy as well as Røst are islands that fascinate meteorologists. This is the most northern location in the world where there is no meteorological winter. This means that the monthly mean temperature generally stays above zero all of the year, due to the Gulf Stream. In Norland, on the north side of the island, there is an airport that was closed for regular traffic because of an accident in 1990. It’s said that the turbulence can be really bad along the mountain side because of the topography. On Værøy, which currently has about 800 inhabitants, you can also find an abandoned fishers village because of modernization. The nature is beautiful and the guide book tells me the island is a paradise for bicyclists. Værøy is also famous for the Norwegian Lundehund, a dog that has six toes per foot and can bend its head backwards along its own spine. This dog was used back in the days to hunt puffins.

After a short while

new passengers and vehicles are onboard the ferry and we can continue our journey towards Røst, which is yet another 1.5 hours trip away. The sea is calm at the moment and I enjoy a part of the trip from the upper outdoor deck. The distance across Røsthavet seems longer than it actually is, since Røst consists of an archipelago with many small and flat islands, not visible at a distance. Suddenly everybody runs to the port side of the ship. I spot a group of Killer whales that go in opposite direction, towards Lofuohtta. Since they are swimming quite far away from the ferry and I don’t have a proper tele objective, the fins only look like black dots on the pictures taken with my mobile phone. As we approach Røst, I can spot the higher mountains: Storfjellet, Vedøya and Stavøya. Stavøya, which is closest to Værøy, reminds of a witch hat seen in direction west-east and an old mans hat seen in direction north-south. As we turn starboard towards the harbor I can even spot the lighthouse of Skomvær in the horizon on the outer side of the Nykan Nature Reserve. I am so excited to finally arrive, furthermore without any delays on the date that we originally planned. Satellite maps tell you something but the actual reality is always more exciting and different from what you expect.


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It is a bit chilly outside on the ferry deck of MF Værøy, but the scenery is magnificent. On the horizon you can see (from left to right): Stavøya, Lofoten, Mosken and Værøy.


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The Nykan Nature Reserve and Stavøya appear on the horizon. We are still far away, so it is hard to see any details of Røstlandet, because the island is really flat and partly hidden behind Stavøya.


03.

Spending some days at Røstlandet Wednesday 15 July Elin, who runs the residency

and will meet me up, is a bit late. I sit down on a wooden bench by the pier and watch as people board the ferry. It reminds me of a giant whale as it swallows all the vehicles and passengers. MF Værøy puts its engines in reverse, makes a turn and continues towards Bådåddjo (Bodø). I am now completely alone at the pier, the only sound I can hear comes from screaming kittiwakes. Vedøya and Storfjellet appear in southwest and I get a sense of the rest of the Nykan Nature Reserve. It is so peaceful! Isn’t it strange that Røstlandet is this flat when the rest of Lofuohtta is really rocky? Two men that I noticed on the ferry earlier come walking back to the harbor. It seems as if they are carrying hand tools from the harbor to a nearby hotel. I take a short stroll towards the

hotel and get fascinated by the municipal arms of Røst. It pictures three proud Great cormorants. In Ostrobothnia this bird is hated among fishermen. They see it as a rival as it is claimed to catch a lot of European Perch. I imagine that at Røst the Great cormorant isn’t a competitor at all for the fishermen – instead of being hated it might even be admired for its superb fishing skills? Talking about municipal arms, I remind myself of the municipal arms of Værøy and Moskenes, which suitably picture a puffin and a whirlpool. I get a message from Elin that she is soon on her way, so I walk the short distance back to the harbor. The silence is suddenly broken

by a seaplane that lands on a narrow gap of water in front of the Bryggehotell. At first sight the pilot seems to be mad, but the landing is successful. The plane makes a u-turn in the harbor and anchors in front of the hotel. A large black-legged kittiwake colony has totally occupied an old Rorbuer building near the hotel. It is strange that they didn’t seem to get disturbed by the loud noise from the seaplane. On the other hand, it is interesting to witness how humans and animals sometimes coexist in strange ways. It might be safer for the birds to nest nearby us in order to avoid predators like eagles, and the fishing industry at Røst provides the opportunity to get some fish remains. The sound of the Kittiwakes is rest-

ful, but simultaneously it is yet another alarm about climate change. In a quite recent article, published 2018 in Nature, a group of researchers followed up the diet of Black-legged kittiwakes on Svalbard and came to the conclusion that the change in diet is yet another indicator of climate change. The birds have shifted their diet from arctic prey towards eating more Atlantic fish. I fantasize about

Skomvær, that’s now hidden by the sunny silhouettes of Vedøya and Storfjellet, as a white electric van parks in front of me. Elin jumps out with a smile on her face: Welcome to Røst! We had a WhatsApp video call before my departure from Finland, but meeting a person IRL is always so much better. The van is filled with stuff for Skomvær, e.g. a new fridge to replace the old one. Elin has a lot to coordinate, since there are several people going out to Skomvær this week. Because of the corona pandemic, the Norwegian state decided to support different local projects. Røst AiR got a grant for doing some renovation on a couple of the old buildings on Skomvær, which is a heritage site. The two guys that I saw carrying some hand tools are actually also going out to Skomvær. They are working for a company hired by Kystverket that cares for the renovation of lighthouses along the Norwegian coastline.

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I am also excited

to experience the society and the nature on Røst, so I will spend some days on Røstlandet before moving out to Skomvær. Elin drives me a couple of kilometers across the main island to Nesset, which lies on the northeastern corner of Røstlandet. She has arranged accommodation for me here in a house for a couple of days. Although the drive is short, we already get to talk about many interesting things, e.g. Sámi culture and electric vs. bioethanol cars. On our way, we stop to talk with some people that Elin knows, and she shows me a garden project she has done with school kids on the island.

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After taking

a short power nap, I get outside to see the surroundings. A Great black-backed gull sits on the outermost lamp post of the island. I admire the view of the open sea and the silhouettes of Værøy, Mosken and Lofuohtta in the horizon. My leg feels ok as long I walk slowly on flat ground, so I turn around and head the other direction towards the old cemetery and sit down on a wooden bench. I didn’t meet one single car during my walk. It is absolutely quiet and I am reflecting about the words unpretentiousness and timelessness. I like this relaxing feeling of being insignificant, a sensation that you can get when you are alone in nature. It is so nice to just ignore our stressed and mad civilization for a while. The landscape that surrounds me doesn’t

demand anything from me, I can just enjoy it for free. The oldest bedrock of Lofuohtta is about 2 billions of years old, which gives you a sound perspective. Why get stressed about trivialities? I meet some sheep

that are hanging around chewing grass. They also seem relaxed. Thanks to The gulf stream, Røst has a mild and stable climate throughout the year even though it’s situated above the polar circle. Combined with the light summer nights you feel there isn’t so much difference between day and night. In summer time, I suppose you could sleep with doors and windows wide open, or why not under the open sky like the sheep do? I walk back

to the house and make a lentil soup, as Elin is still working with the arrangements for Skomvær and the workers. It feels good with a calm evening and to finally get settled on one place for several days. The journey from Finland through Sápmi and Lofuohtta was amazing, but all the impressions and waking up in a new place every morning makes you overwhelmed and tired. As Elin returns we drink a cup of tea and talk about different ways of making the world a better place – e.g. by focusing on the local perspectives. It is a misty night. Elin describes this weather change on Røst as when The Groke character from Moomin comes sneaking

and the landscape suddenly turns cold. Tomorrow we will probably make a boat trip through the Nykan Nature Reserve towards Skomvær. There will probably be a lot of Atlantic puffins on the sea as the mist eases. I don’t need to count sheep in order to fall asleep. I somehow dream of birds and mountains.

Thursday 16 July I wake up early, make some oat porridge with

plums and cinnamon and then sneak out for a morning walk, not to wake Elin up since I think she worked late. The landscape is surreal and Narnia-like, it is almost like walking inside one of Salvador Dalis paintings. I don’t meet anyone but the birds are awake. As I walk a bit further out on a grass-covered peninsula, a pair of Parasitic jaegers get interested in me and when two ravens start circling quite close over my head – maybe they have their offspring close to the ledge nearby – I decide to turn back. Fish bones and cracked shells lay all over the cliffs. As a contrast, beautiful flowers flourish between the rocks. Life and death are connected in such an obvious way out here. I think about the natural circle of life that the modern western society is so disconnected from. Sadly, there is also quite a lot of plastic garbage between the rocks – washed ashore


The society of Røst gets visible.

A traditional fishing vessel head for the open sea.

Arriving at the harbor of Røst.

The outermost part of Lofuohtta.

I am alone in the harbor as MF Værøy head for Bodø. Vedøya and Storfjellet can be seen in the background.

Old stone walls.

The old church ruin.

The landscape is shaped by the tide.

Leaving Værøy and heading for Røst.

A beatiful morning on Nesset. On the horizon you can see Lofuohtta, Mosken and Værøy.


The beaches are filled with shells and seaweed.

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A Great black-backed gull is resting on an electricity pole on Nesset, which lies on the northeastern corner of Røstlandet.

Stavøya reminds of an old mans hat and appear as a contrast to the flatness of Røstlandet.


by tidal water and waves. I can’t help thinking about pictures that I have seen of dead birds and stranded whales with their bellies full of colorful plastic – yet another problem caused by fossil capitalism. I join Elin

for a cup of tea and a sandwich as I return ”back home”. She is excited since a group of Orcas (Killer whales) has been spotted just outside Skomvær. I am still a bit tired after all the impressions of Lofuohtta and a bit anxious about riding a small boat on the open sea, so I must admit I am looking forward to the afternoon boat trip with some mixed emotions. To my relief, the weather seems perfect with almost no wind at all.

After lunch

we get in the car and meet up with young fisherman Sander at Grimsøya on the opposite side of Røstlandet. Teacher Mari and her friend also join us on the trip. The sea surface is smooth like a mirror. It’s hard to believe that we’re actually out on the Northern Atlantic. The ride isn’t bumpy at all, it is more like driving a car on the highway. It’s also unusually warm for the season – I already mentioned climate change so I won’t repeat myself. As we approach the western side of Storfjellet, Sander slows down the boat. The sea is almost boiling because of the amount of Atlantic puffins. We don’t want to scare them off, since they are soon

about to leave Norway and need to save all their extra energy for the migration. It’s such a handsome bird, with the colorful beak as a contrast to the black and white. The Atlantic puffin looks more like a penguin or fish when is speeds up on the surface before it manages to make a running takeoff. It’s fascinating to imagine that the Atlantic puffin can get over 30 years old, dive deeper than 60 meters and stay under water for up to a minute. What’s not so fascinating is that the population is declining globally and the species is now listed as vulnerable. In the late 1970s The Nykan Nature Reserve still hosted the worlds largest colony with about 1.5 million breeding pairs. Now there are only some hundred thousand left. We also

see lots of other birds, e.g. Eagles, Razorbills, Black guillemots, Great cormorants and more Black-legged kittiwakes. After we’ve passed by Storfjellet and Elevsnyken the fairylike Trenyken island appears right in front of us. With its three (tre means three) steep tops it appears unreal. I can’t help to once again associate to the landscapes of Narnia. No one is allowed to land on the island during summer since the breeding birds are protected during this period. We are not the only ones to feel that Trenyken is a very special place. There is a cave named Helvete (that’s Hell in English) on the island with

old cave paintings which date back to 1500 BC. Professor Per Fugelli describes Trenyken as a triptych altarpiece painting, a cathedral made by mother nature herself. The gods that were worshiped here later spread to Lofuohtta and middle Norway. When we think about the history of Lofuohtta, we should thus remind ourselves that there was an ancient sea Sámi culture long before the vikings arrived at the scene. Still today, despite of safer boats and GPS navigation, the open ocean feels endless. It is fascinating to imagine people crossing these very same oceans thousands of years ago. In 1431

a sailing captain from Venice, Pietro Querini, and his crew of 68 men was on their way to Bruges in Flandern. Outside France they encountered a terrible storm and drifted north with the Gulf Stream. In January 1432 the ship stranded on a small island in the Nykan Nature Reserve. It took nearly a month until fishermen from Røst discovered the wreck and the eleven men who had survived. Querini, who was one of them, later returned to Venice and got the Italians interested in Norwegian stockfish. It is assumed that the Italians disembarked at Sandøya, which lies between Storfjellet and Trenyken. A memorial has been erected on the island.

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We’re not far from Skomvær

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now and I start to see the details of the lighthouse. We spot a couple of other small boats outside the island. Elin gets a message from Skomvær that they still spotted Orcas from the lighthouse some minutes ago. I suppose the people in the other boats also are curious about them. We slowly enter Keila (which means cone), a narrow and shallow bay, which is the only official landing site on Skomvær. Because of tidal water it is possible to land twice a day when the tide is high (at the moment around 14 or 21 pm). Then you have to take the waves into account, since they vary depending on wind speed and direction. Local people generally avoid going out to Skomvær if the wind speed gets above 7–8 meters per second. Today it is, however, really calm even out here. As we get closer to the pier, I can see lots of green seaweed and big blue sea urchins through the surface – the Norwegian word ”kråkebolle” (sea urchin) is by the way one of my favorites so far. The sea bottom reminds me of a giant colorful portion of pasta.

We unload

fresh water tanks and some building material and a family of four jumps onboard, going back with us to Røst. Before we leave I briefly say hey to Magdaléna, who is working as an intern for Røst AiR. I had a WhatsApp video call with her before my departure from Finland

and I will get to talk more with her later when I move out to here. As everybody is excited by the Orcas, we drive out some kilometers south of Skomvær. However, it seems as if they have moved on, so we head back for Røstlandet. On our way back we slowly pass by some bird cliffs where there are a lot of Black-legged kittiwakes. Elin tells us about her Soundscape art projects. She has earlier been working as a DJ, doing gigs in big metropoles around the world. Now that she has settled on Røst, she practices deep listening and makes field recordings of birds. On one of her latest vinyl records there is a track that she made spending some days and nights in a tent behind these bird cliffs. Back at Grimsøya, we carry empty water con-

tainers and assorted waste ashore. Elin says she brings some of the waste back to Bådåddjo since everything can’t be recycled here at Røst. I must say, I admire people that are this consequent and dedicated. We meet up with the family that left from Skomvær and eat dinner together at Havly fiskarheim before they return to Bådåddjo with the evening ferry. A local Fish burger with fries tastes great after a day at the sea. I guess I have to ask for a local Fiskekake (fish cake) recipe at some stage. We finish with an ice cream. What a day!

Friday 17 July As I like routines,

I start the day with eating some oat porridge. It is rainy and windy outside, so I spend some extra time writing diary and sketching on different ideas for art projects. However, after a while I feel I should go for a walk to exercise my leg, which seems to be getting better. After an injury, it’s not healthy to just sit still. The muscle needs some exercise. In Finnish they say ”liike on lääke” (motion is medicine). I get dressed in my neon yellow rain clothes and go out to meet the elements. It seems that I am the only one outside, but it is really nice to also experience Røstlandet in this weather. Everything around me is gray and I feel like a neon colored dot in the center of the universe. I walk a trail down to the old church ruin and visit the bird watchers cabin. Some hundred meters from the cabin there is a dead whale on the shore. It is not that big, probably a Nise (Harbour porpoise). I walk around the cemetery where a group of sheep are closely gathered outside the stone wall, looking for shelter against the rain. I continue towards the centre of the island and admire the new church. I take another route by the seaside on my way back to the house. It is only me and the Great black-backed gulls. I feel like Stefan Sundström, a Swedish musician who is very engaged in environmental issues. He recently pub-


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Approaching Storfjellet. The sea is seldom this calm out here.


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Passing by the northern end of Storfjellet. The red hut gives you a perception of the scale of the landscape.


Vedøya appears grey compared to Storfjellet. Røstlandet lies left behind Vedøya.

There is a plateau on top of Storfjellet, whereas the western mountain side is really steep.

On Trenyken island there is a cave named Helvete where you can find old cave paintings. Already 3500 years ago people warshipped ancient Gods out here.

Going around the western side of Trenyken.


Entering Keila, the only harbor on SkomvĂŚr.

The old rusty crane in Keila.

There is a plateau on top of Storfjellet, whereas the western mountain side is really steep.

Sitting in the boat together with Elin.

A short stop in Keila.


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Looking for Orcas some kilometers southeast of SkomvĂŚr. On the horizon (from left to right): SkomvĂŚr, Hernyken, Trenyken, Ellevsnyken and Storfjellet.


Shallow turquoise water between small islands.

Heading back towards Røstlandet.

Trenyken seen from the south.

A Kittiwake colony on a steep cliff.


Grass grows between the rocks.

The northwestern cliffs on Vedøya are really steep.

Going around the northwestern corner of Vedøya.

There is a cave on the northern part of Vedøya, hidden by the ridge.


lished the book ”Stefans stora blå” about spending a year together with fishermen in Norway. It feels rewarding

to get back inside the house and make some food. I change to dry woolen clothes and take a nap under a sheepskin in the sofa to warm myself up. Sheep wool must be the best clothing material in the world. This is what it is like to feel alive. When I wake up a spider is hanging from the roof above me. I follow its movements for quite a while and think about the potential of ”deep watching”. Since Elin rescued

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some old tomatoes from the local store, I decide to improvise and prepare a ”rescue dinner”: a tomato-bean sauce with pasta. Elin picks some fresh salad. We discuss patriarchal structures, colonialism and energy issues, and I get to learn more about Sápmi. It is really sad how Sámi culture has been ignored by people in power. Elin picks a book about Sámi history from the shelf. I think about the railway extension that is planned through Sápmi in northern Finland. In Norway Sámi reindeer herders get some compensation if their herd is run over by a train. This alternative is cheaper for the state then building fences, but it can of course be a traumatic experience for the herder. We talk about the brutal mining industry. It feels crazy that mining companies are welcomed with

open arms while there have been occasions when elderly Sámi people are forbidden to use their fourwheeler when picking berries. Instead, they have to rely on frozen berries from the supermarket, often picked under slavery conditions by people flown to Scandinavia from East Asia. How weird isn’t that?

Saturday 18 July I wake up early

by the beautiful morning light, admire the view towards Værøy and Lofuohtta for a while and then manage to sleep for another hour. After breakfast I handwash some of my clothes and have a WhatsApp video call with the rest of the family. They are now safely back home in Finland. What a relief to hear that the driving went ok. My partner sounds a bit tired, though. I get outside and start walking towards Lill-Glea and the one and only grocery store on the island. It’s closed on Sundays so I better get there today. It’s not many kilometers, but I sit down a couple of times on wooden benches along the road, just to rest and stretch my leg for a while. Broken sea urchin shells lay on the asphalt. It is a simple but ingenious tactics of the birds to just drop them onto the road. If the shell doesn’t break at the first attempt, a passing car might complete the work.

The grocery store

is situated right by the sea between some fishing industry buildings, so it’s also handy to do your food shopping with boat. I clean my hands carefully with sanitizer before entering and keep as long a distance as possible to other customers. I am surprised by the wide supply. I buy some food and ask a friendly guy at the checkout about SD memory cards for digital cameras. I brought my daughters old pocket cameras, which are water resistant, so I think about making some under water footage. Therefore, it would be good to have some extra memory cards in case some of them get wet. He checks with his follow workers. They don’t have any memory cards at the store, but he suggests that I could ask at Røst Videokiosk, since they tend to have everything. The Videokiosk is situated on Ystnesset, so I save that for later. I sit down

by the wooden table next to the pier. After enjoying the magnificent view towards Vedøya and Storfjellet, and eating yet another ice cream, I start walking back. I pass by Querini Pub&Restaurant and turn left towards Vannverket (The Water treatment plant) as there seems to be a shortcut trail across the moorland towards the cemetery. The vegetation is barren. There are no trees on Røstlandet but mostly grass. I spot some crowberries and think of the story about an elderly man that is said to have his secret location


where he picks some liters of cloudberries every year. It’s understandable that there is more fish then berries on the menu here on Røst. I make a stop by the wooden bench in the road crossings by the cemetery. This place is now familiar to me. After sitting down and writing some sentences in my diary book I eat bread, fruit and yogurt while enjoying the landscape. I finish with a sweet chocolate bar and tell myself that I will probably eat healthier, when at Skomvær. When I walk back

to the house I start thinking about the similarities between Røst and Larsmo, which is a municipality north of my hometown Jakobstad. Both Røst and Larsmo have longs traditions of fishing, and they both describe themselves as communities with 365 islands, one for each day of the year – what a coincidence! It’s also a coincidence that just before I departed from Finland, I finished a public sculpture for the municipality of Larsmo. The Fish’n’boat sculpture, made out of stainless and corten steel, symbolizes the connection and interaction between nature and human culture (see pages 11–12). It strikes me that this sculpture would also fit the municipality of Røst. I immediately get some visions about a similar sculpture (see pages 147–154).

I think that

fishermen are real artists of life. As there are Artist in Residencies, why couldn’t there also be Fisherman in Residencies? Maybe I should make a simple proposal for Larsmo and Røst to cooperate on this, it might work out of the concept of twin towns? (see pages 141–142). I know some fishermen back in Finland that surely would love to visit Røst and I suppose it would be a special experience for fishermen from Røst to visit Ostrobothnia, especially in wintertime when you can do net fishing under sea ice. I get back to the house, take a rewarding warm shower and put on fresh clothes. Another boat trip

is announced for the afternoon. I feel that I am still a bit tired and already full of impressions, but Elin insists that it will be great, so I decide to go. After lunch we meet up with Sander and Carina at Grimsøya. Carina is also here as an artist in resident. She is a literary critics from northern Sápmi, now living and working in Mexico City. As we head for Storfjellet, the discussion goes on about the oppression of Sámi people. I listen and learn. The sky is clear and the wind is weak, so the others plan to climb up the mountain while I’ll stay down by the sea. My leg is getting better and I feel comfortable with walking on flat ground, but I wouldn’t still stress it with climbing the steep route along Storfjellet. We anchor southwest of the island and the others start climbing.

They soon disappear as small dark dots on the green and grassy mountain side. It looks quite steep, so I am perfectly comfortable with laying down on my sleeping pad to just admire the view. Skomvær is clearly visible behind Sandøya, Ellevsnyken and Trenyken (see page 47). A small open boat slowly drives towards Ellevsnyken and I see five eagles circling high in the air around the top of Storfjellet. One of them heads for Trenyken. A Black guillemot flies back and forth picking up fish from the ocean, probably feeding its chicks. A bumble bee pollinates bluebells in the grass next to my head. The wind seems to be picking up a little bit. Sander told us earlier that even though it is generally a calm day, it can get quite windy due to fall wind from the mountain side. There have even been occasions when smaller anchored boats have keeled over because of a strong fall wind. Back in the days,

families from Røst used to keep sheep in their own vertically divided sections of these steep slopes. It must have been hard work since nature can get quite rough out here. People have even seen eagles pushing lambs over the cliffs to get an easy meal. There are still a few persons keeping up the farming tradition, for example Kari-Anne Nilsen. The Norwegian NRK broadcasting company actually made a TV series that follows her everyday life on Røst.

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A colorful landscape outside Nesset on Røstlandet. A rainbow appears as the tide is low. On the horizon Værøy is covered with a cloud.


Elin has made a garden project together with school children on Røst. Stavøya in the background.

Birdwatchers hut.

Bronze sculpture by the church.

Moorland, houses and Stavøya.

Boathouse.

Out fishing southeast of Vedøya.

Wetland near the airport.

One of few roadsigns.

Walking along Fv781 on Røst.

Talking with a sheep family in the middle of the rain.


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A beautiful view from Storfjellet towards Ellevsnyken and Sandøya. Trenyken and Skomvær can be seen in the background.


After a while,

I spot three silhouettes on the top of the mountain. From my perspective the mountain seems too steep to climb, but apparently they made it through a green narrow ravine. I wave my arms but they probably don’t notice me, as I sit beneath them at the grass plateau. After an hour or so, I hear cheerful voices as they return safely. We drink coffee and tea before heading back. Instead of going past Vedøya, we turn southeast and drive some kilometers out on the open sea. It’s a bumpy ride, as the wind is now a bit stronger and the waves are bigger. It is late in the evening. The sky is dusky and some raindrops fall on the window. I am actually a little bit scared, since I am not used to being on a small 7-meter-long boat on the open sea (with a water temperature of about 12 degrees celsius). However, I guess this is classified as calm weather by the local fishermen. According to the sonar, the depth is about 100 meters. We soon recognize a fish shoals swimming at a depth of around 50 meters. It is fascinating to see how smoothly Sander moves despite the rocking motion. After a short while, ten large saithes have been pulled up in the boat with the fishing rod, and we head back towards the harbor. It is almost midnight until we are back at Røstlandet. The fish is quickly cleared and back home we use some of it to make a fast night snack. Food can’t get more

fresh or local than this. A couple of hours ago this delicious fried saithe was happily swimming around in the deep dark ocean. Elin tells me that: ”Now you know how it is to be a fisherman on Røst”. What a day!

Sunday 19 July I wake up energized

at nine even though it was almost 02 o’clock before I fell asleep. The light summer nights at this high latitude easily mixes up your circadian rhythm. You have to define yourself when it’s time to sleep. After breakfast I take a short walk and have a WhatsApp video call with my parents, who are spending the weekend on their summer cottage. I sit down on a cliff that has already been heated by the morning sunlight and gaze towards Værøy. It’s fascinating to observe how clouds form over the island whereas the rest of the sky is totally blue. I go back to the house, make a packed lunch and walk west. Just before the airport, I turn left and follow a trail right along the fence that encloses the runway. At the end of the runway, the trail makes a sharp right turn and I am soon at Åndhammarn, a viewing point that is some meters higher than the surrounding moorland. I could have continued walking further west, but as I am not familiar with the tidal water I don’t risk

getting stuck on the smaller outer islands. As always, lunch tastes extra good outdoors. Magdaléna sends me a message and wonders when I will come out to Skomvær. Apparently some workers are going out tomorrow. I reply to her that I would be glad to join them on the same boat ride. I enjoy the view of Vedøya and Storfjellet against the flat moorland for a while before I head back. I feel that I still can’t get enough of this beautiful landscape. Since it is Sunday and the weather is fine, I meet some local people on my way back. After saying hi to one of the families I hear a whisper: ”Hvem var det?” (who was that?). On an island with merely 500 inhabitants it’s probably easy to notice that I am not a local. As I walk back to Nesset,

I notice that a woman is cutting grass with a beam mower on a field. I am almost sure that it is ”Kari-Anne på Røst”, who is the main character in a TV series on the Norwegian television – which I mentioned earlier. Kari-Anne moved out to Røst to become a sheep farmer and fisher. When still back in Finland, I watched some episodes of the TV series together with the family, since it has also been broadcasted in the Finnish television. Even though I am a bit starstruck, I don’t bother do walk across the field and disrupt her in her work just to get a selfie for the kids.

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I take a nap

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in the sofa and then go through pictures on the cameras and the phone. We’re getting hungry, so I peel and boil potatoes whereas Elin fries some of the fish that we caught yesterday. She also brings some salad and kale from the garden and we’ve got a super-tasty and healthy dinner – all from local ingredients. We finish with berries and some vanilla sauce. I am excited, since tomorrow I will go out to Skomvær together with the rest of the workers. Elly, the chef who will be making food for us on the island, has had a bad flu. Luckily, she is now feeling better, so she will probably also join us tomorrow. Getting all of us to Skomvær at the same ride makes the coordinating a lot easier for Elin. I upload some pictures to Google Drive before I go to bed, just to have a backup if I would drop my phone in the ocean. Tomorrow Skomvær!

04.

Arriving at Skomvær – the lighthouse and the social dimension Monday 20 July I wake up early

and pack my stuff together. After doing my morning routines – today I even shave and use some deodorant – I routinely eat oat porridge with berries and oat milk. I spot the Swedish Camino magazine in the kitchen, it is even the very same number where there is an article about me and my art projects. It’s a small world! I tidy and vacuum the room and I am already

ready to go. Since I still have plenty of time, I decide to go for a short morning walk before we leave. Apparently, Elly is still sick, so she won’t join us. However, we drive by her place to pick up fish cakes and other delicacies. We also stop at Videokiosk Røst, which is a super cozy little shop

near Grimsøya. Since people don’t rent movies that frequently anymore they sell a bit of everything, including different types memory cards. I find what I’m looking for and yes, they also have ice cream. Better to enjoy that now at once, since there won’t be any kiosks at Skomvær. On the driveway we meet the husband of the kiosk owner. We discuss about a helicopter transporting building materials from Røst to Skomvær. He reminds himself of how things were carried out back in the days, and tells me about a navigation mark that was built west of Røst some hundreds of years ago. Since people didn’t have helicopters they filled their small wooden boats with stones and row out to the small cay, where the navigation mark still stands steady. We make a stop at Elins place to fill up fresh water canisters and then start loading the boat. Running a residency on a remote island means you have to be clear about the logistics when it comes to e.g. drinking water, food and waste. We take a different route to Skomvær this

time and it’s fascinating to experience the Nykan Nature Reserve from a different perspective. The weather conditions also differs a bit from last time. We land in Keila without difficulties. The workers are really kind, as they help us to unload the boat and carry stuff up to the house. I get to meet Magdaléna who is working as an intern


Out fishing southeast of Vedøya.

Walking past the airport.

A sign by the hiking trail.

Football field at Røst.

Old boat used as a pub terrace.

Sheep in front of the cemetery.

The society of Røst and Stavøya.

Walking along Fv781 on Røst.

Storfjellet.

Wooden racks for drying cod.

Saithe fished outside Røst.

Sitting at Åndhammarn.

South of Trenyken.

Walking south along Fv781.

On the hiking trail to Åndhammarn.

Seaweed at low tide.


The boathouse down in Keila.

The remains of a crab.

The interior is cozy.

Viewing out southwest from my room.

SkomvĂŚr and the Nykan Nature Reserve.

Exploring the area around Keila.

Using greaseproof paper for transforming digital pictures to sketches.

Charging my phone with solar power and reflector.

Clear instructions about recycling.


View towards the west.

A sign in the lighthouse.

Light through lens in the lighthouse.

Helicopter pilots taking a break.

Inside the lighthouse.

Old rusty iron details.

A view from the lighthouse towards the Nykan Nature Reserve.

Keila at low tide.

A print from a children’s workshop.


for Røst AiR this summer. She’s an artist from the Czech Republic, now living in Trondheim. She works with different kinds of sound projects. I install myself in the main building and get to know the house and the surroundings. There is a garden south of the main building. I water the vegetables and mound the soil up around the potatoes. It feels good to do some physical work in between. After dinner the workers go for a swim in Kei-

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la. I still wound’t stress my thigh muscle with the cold sea water, so instead I slowly and carefully climb up to the top of the lighthouse – only putting weight on my right leg. It is not that many steps so I make it to the top. The view is absolutely breathtaking! It’s mostly open horizon. In east lies Bådåddjo and far away in west you’ll find Iceland and Greenland. Viewing north, I get a full panorama of the Nykan Nature Reserve (e.g. Trenyken, Storfjellet and Vedøya), Røstlandet and Stavøya. As the weather is clear I can also see Værøy, Mosken and Lofuohtta in the horizon. The lighthouse,

which was built in the years 1885 to 1887, isn’t operating during these light summer months, but I can imagine that the appearance is completely different in the dark winter when the light is switched on. There is still a hole in one of the glass lenses. It got broken

during the Second World War when the British Army tried to black out the lighthouse, making it harder for the Germans to navigate. The original glass lenses, fabricated and hand polished in Paris, haven’t been replaced since nobody masters the special handcraft anymore. Back down on solid ground we make some waffles together outside. I’m already in love with this place. It is absolutely quiet as I fall asleep. Being this far away from civilization fills you with an exciting combination of comfort and vulnerability and a gratefulness for life.

Tuesday 21 July I wake up well rested. It is a bit chilly in the

room since I forgot to turn up the heating element. There is a diesel generator for the electrical system on the island, so we all turn down the heating system during the day to save diesel. Elin has plans for installing solar panels for Røst AiR as soon as they can afford it. In the desk drawer, there is list with advices for saving energy and water, and rules about how to handle recycled materials and organic leftovers. I like this clear and holistic approach. I eat porridge,

recycle the trash, empty the compost bin and make a packed lunch. My plan

for the day is to just stroll around to get a sense of the island. I first walk down to Keila and then climb up the lighthouse. A helicopter will transport building materials from Røst to Skomvær during the morning and I think that I can get some interesting footage from the lighthouse. The interior of the lighthouse is very special. Compared to the minimalism of today, the touch of the engineers of the late 19th century was completely different. I admire the ornamental esthetics in the details: the curved staircase, the door handles and the cast iron fence around the glass lenses. I imagine how the lighthouse keeper a hundred years ago would sit down by this very same wooden desk beneath the lamp, after having lubricated the mechanics and checked that it worked properly. What did he think about? I myself sit down

at a seat pad at the upper outer balcony, grab my sketch book and fantasize about Orcas. I sketch down some (s)low-tech ideas for Skomvær and feel that ”slowness” has somehow become a central theme in my art as well as in my life. After a while I hear the distant sound of rotor blades and a tiny moving dot appears behind Storfjellet. After some minutes the helicopter is right beside the lighthouse. The noise scares away some Black guillemots and the grass bends in interesting patterns as the helicopter smoothly lowers a package of scaffolding, be-


the lighthouse was built. A helicopter might seem effective at first glance, but it can only carry an maximum load of about one tonne, which means that flying back and forth with, for example, 10 tons probably takes half a day. Even though a ship goes slower, it can bring a much heavier load all at once and is thus probably more time-effective. Efficiency is often an illusion.

fore heading back to Røstlandet. The helicopter returns a couple of times with more scaffolding, wood material and water tanks. After the last transport the pilots land in the grass on the open moorland and climb up to see the lighthouse before going on their next mission. It is absolutely quiet again, apart from a distant hum from the diesel generator in the engine room. As a contrast to fast and fossil-intense helicopter transports I sketch down an idea about a ”tidal water elevator” for Skomvær. Wouldn’t it be handy to just leave heavy stuff on a floating platform down in Keila and then let the tidal water slowly lift it up for you in a couple of days? (see page 140). A lot of ideas comes to you here in the wilderness, where you are not distracted by society and its limiting norms. Since I am a friend of simple solutions, I start to think about what to do if you want to get a bird’s eye view but can’t afford a helicopter or a drone. Some years ago I attached a small and cheap camera to a kite. I earlier noticed there was a fishing rod outside the house. What if I attached my waterproof camera to it and did an experimental ”Photofishing” project? (see pages 113–120).

At a far distance I see MF Værøy approaching the harbor of Røst. I climb down and take a walk around the island, getting to know the environment better. There are no trees on Skomvær, merely flat open grassland. The outer edges of the island are rocky with sharp cliffs. I have a coffee break together with the workers and eat some fresh fried waffles before taking another walk, this time towards the old landing site that were used when building the lighthouse. The weather is perfect, so I continue past some colorful flower fields and rest for a while on the cliffs south of the lagoon, before heading back to the house for dinner. Pollinators are humming among the flowers and Great black-backed gulls are trumpeting at a distance.

I also start thinking about differences be-

Back at the house,

tween helicopter and boat transports. Earlier today, a local tourist visiting Skomvær reminded us that there where no helicopters at the time when

It’s already past lunchtime.

I clear some weeds in the vegetable garden before dinner. Magdaléna has made a tasty potato salad for us that goes perfect with green beans. It’s really nice to eat all togeth-

er. There are always interesting discussions when people with different cultural backgrounds, interests and occupations get together in a context like this. The atmosphere is respectful since there is a silent agreement that everybody strives to be helpful and constructive. We’re told by fishermen

that a dead whale is floating around somewhere outside Skomvær. If it would float ashore, we shouldn’t get to close to it, as a dead whale actually can explode when its heated for days in the sun. It has probably died naturally, but apparently there are also some ships legally hunting for Common minke whales outside Røst at the moment. I borrow a binoculars

from the kitchen and make another visit up in the lighthouse. Still no Orcas in sight, so I return to the house. Behind the kitchen there is a mini library. My eyes get stuck on a Norwegian non-fiction book about seaweeds: ”Tang og tare”. I make a cup of tea and a sandwich with peanut butter. Before it’s bedtime, I read about different kinds of seaweed and recall some of the species I saw down in Keila. Seaweed is apparently rich in protein and some of the species are claimed to be really tasty. I guess that’s why there is a package with the text ”From Lofoten weed love” among the spices in the kitchen. I also think that I spotted

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The lagoon is calm like a mirror.

An old lifebuoy hanging on the wall.

Sharp cliffs surrounding the lighthouse.

Basic hand tools in the workshop.

Inside the greenhouse.

Sitting inside the lighthouse, doing some sketching.

Frying waffles outdoors.

A bird sculpture in the garden.

Plastic garbage washed ashore.

Fyr means lighthouse.

Close-up of a flower field.

Unpacking dried foodstuffs.

Wooden material from the old roof.

Sketching at my room.

SkomvĂŚr lighthouse.

Drawing from children’s workshop.


Spending a rainy afternoon in the lighthouse.

The main house and the outbuilding.

A sign on the pier in Keila.

The view towards the Nykan Nature Reserve on a windy day.

Transporting fresh water and olives in a wheelbarrow.

In the shed, you find the remains of a hen house.

The SkomvĂŚr lighthouse.

Checking the compass direction.

A detail of the rusty crane in Keila.

The garden.

A detail in the outbuilding.

Keeping it tidy.

There is a small print workshop in the shed.

In the garden, there is a compost for organic waste.

An extra woolen blanket keeps you warm.

A flower field and the Nykan Nature Reserve.


one of the common red eatable species earlier in the day when the tide was low. I grab an extra woolen blanket, fall asleep and dream of underwater worlds.

Wednesday 22 July It’s now almost two weeks

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since I left from Jakobstad in Finland. Therefore, it is mostly unlikely that I would have brought the Coronavirus from Finland to Norway, which feels good. Even though the border between Finland and Norway is open – I saw many Norwegian tourists around Gilbbesjávri and many Finnish cars in Lofuohtta – I have thought quite a lot about the situation. When it comes to the virus, I however feel Skomvær is the optimal place to be. We are naturally isolated out here and spend most of our time outdoors so it’s easy to keep a social distance. The fresh air and the sunlight makes it even harder for a potential virus to survive. The weather forecast

for today is good, whereas there will probably be rain and wind on Thursday and Friday. Since I found some recycled materials in the workshop, I plan to go on with the ”Photofishing” project. I don’t have a quadrocopter, but I find it even more interesting to experiment with simpler solutions, for free. I

think about counter-weights for stability, steering lines and fins for adjusting the camera angel according to wind and waves. Maybe I should also build a simple kite and attach one of the cameras to do a ”Røst up in the AiR” project. I’ve briefly tried a similar kite project back home and it seems to work fine. To show the potential of these kind of low-tech solutions, it would be exciting to do some kite filming during a storm, for example flying among Great black-backed gulls. In that kind of a situation use wouldn’t risk using an expensive quadrocopter. By the way, Benjamin Franklin used kites to investigate thunderstorms, which was kind of dangerous. While eating breakfast, I come to talk about

climate change with Magdaléna. The weather in Lofuohtta, Røst and Skomvær is now unusually warm for the season. Sadly, this accords to what climate models are predicting. The temperature rises much faster here up in the north. For example, the summers in Trondheim have become longer and hotter. Nowadays the temperature can apparently stay around +30 degrees celsius for longer periods. The winters in Ostrobothnia are now generally shorter and we have far less sea ice. When it comes to monocultural landscapes we are sad to realize that the situation is similar in both Finland and the Czech Republic. Everything is squeezed out from nature because of

economic greed. There are almost no trenches or habitat islands left in the croplands anymore, that used to host insects and birds. In Finland, a lot of mires have also been drained and there are almost no old growth forests left. Since there are few natural buffers, the soil easily gets flooded whenever there is a cloudburst – which will be more common due to climate change. I hand wash

some dirty clothes and hang them out to dry on a wire in the front yard. Today I will spend most of the time outdoors, since the weather is fine and there are probably some rainy and windy days ahead. I’ve been told that at some occasions, when there has been a severe storm, people on Skomvær have slept inside the fundament of the lighthouse, which is claimed to be the safest space on the island. I apply sun screen before I walk down to the

pier in Keila and sit down by the wooden table. This is a calm place for just hanging around and sketching on different ideas. I study the old rusty crane and take some measurements of the pier, which is made of stones and concrete. It looks durable and everlasting, but it is interesting to notice that there seems to be nothing symmetrical at all in its shape. This is totally different to the construction of the lighthouse, which I have also studied in detail (see pages 123–130).


Since fresh water

is a scarce resource out here on Skomvær, we avoid taking showers in order to save the rainwater tanks for other purposes. Instead, there is a mobile tent sauna on the pier that’s being heated a couple of times a week. Elin asked me about the possibility to build a small permanent sauna by using old recycled wood that will be left over as the workers finish the restoration of the roofs. That’s why I take measurements and do sketches of the pier area, in order to possibly do a rough proposal for a ”Bird nest sauna with a sea view for Orca spotting” (see pages 131–137). I feel that

I have to get my legs moving, so before it’s lunchtime I decide to take a walk and cut some hay in the garden. In the greenhouse, I find a small scythe which does the work after I’ve sharpened the blade. I leave the hay to dry in the sun. It will later be used to cover up the soil around the plants in order to prevent the spread of weed. While working with the scythe I recall the Swedish book ”Myten om maskinen” (The myth of the machine) and a clip I once saw on YouTube. The video shows a competition between a scythe and a brushcutter, in which the brushcutter doesn’t stand a chance.

I eat food remains from yesterday and some

fruits before going to the workshop, where I

build some equipment for the ”Photofishing” project out of recycled materials. When I am finished, I climb up the lighthouse once again. I measure parts of the construction and document it with some drawings. I also try to draw the surrounding landscape onto semi transparent paper through the small glass windows. This experiment isn’t successful, since the greaseproof paper that I found in the kitchen isn’t transparent enough. However, I get the simple idea to place small pieces of greaseproof paper straight onto the screen of my smartphone in order to quickly transfer a picture from digital to analog format. I like combining new technology with simple old fashion solutions (see pages 51 and 111). Sketching, writing and photographing suites me, since I don’t want to leave a large footprint after me. This immaterial approach is also practical, since I am limited in that sense that I have to bring everything I produce with me back home in my backpack. I feel that nowadays I am less fascinated by and interested in doing large scale projects. ”Small is beautiful”, as economist E. F. Schumacher puts it. After some sketching I sit down for a while

at the upper balcony in the lighthouse. A RIB boat crowded with tourists approaches Skomvær. It drifts for a while outside Keila but doesn’t land. Maybe they avoid bringing larger tourist

groups onto the island because of the renovation project. I feel really privileged, not being a paying tourist and despite that being able to spend several weeks on the island. It’s getting chilly so I climb down the light-

house while memorizing the different floors: upper balcony, lamp and lenses (9th floor), lower balcony and machine room (8), upper chamber with wooden walls (7), server room (6), locker for storing reserve glasses (5), sealed hole in the wall and concrete reinforcement (4), wooden bench and table (3), lower chamber with wooden walls, lamp and lens (2), bottom chamber with thick stonewalls (1). I take a walk towards the old landing site. The cliffs are covered with broken shells from crabs and sea urchins, so I get a sense of what the birds are eating. Flowers are thriving between the rocks. I got this same experience during my walks on Røstlandet. Life and death are so closely and naturally connected out here. It suddenly starts to rain, so I walk back to the lighthouse. After measuring some of the cast iron construction I head back for the house. Magdaléna has prepared a delicious Indian Dal for us. It is easy to see that she has experiences of working in a vegetarian restaurant. She is reading ”A field guide to getting lost” by Rebecca Solnit, which is actually also one of my favorite books. I get a tip about ”The Spell of the Sensuous” by author Da-

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Viewing through a small window in the middle of the lighthouse. The two masts of the wire antenna stands behind the main house and the horizon towards southwest is wide open.


The interior is mainly grey.

Cast iron details inside the lighthouse.

Fascinating optical effects.

Sunlight falls on the floor.

Sharp silhouettes in the evening light.


Snails attached to the rocks in Keila.

A misty view towards Nykan.

A calm water surface in a pool next to the open sea.

Stools in the top of the lighthouse.

Coffee for tourists.

Clouds over the Nykan Nature Reserve.

Doing the dishes outside in the rain.

Old roofing tiles of stone.

Carrying foodstuff from Keila.

The main building at SkomvĂŚr.

The SkomvĂŚr lighhouse.


A weekly to-do list hangs on the fridge.

The workers remove roof tiles.

Heating water on the gas stove.

The sun sets behind the cliffs.

Sander leaves for Røstlandet.

Rainclouds behind the radio antenna.

Having done the dishes.


vid Abram. It sounds interesting. I have to read that book when I get back home. After dinner

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I do the dishes, empty the compost bin and sort recyclable materials in the kitchen. Since we are waiting for a food and water delivery from Røstlandet this evening, we collect all empty water canisters and carry them down to Keila. It is a bit windy at the moment, but it usually gets calmer later in the evening. A boat anchors. It is a worker from Røst who says he will finish the restoration of a metal handrail by the stairs down in Keila during the night. There will be some stormy days ahead and he wants to get the job done before that. He is nice and talkative. We discuss old knowledge and building methods. He doubts that Norway would be able to build all these lighthouses along the coast in our time, even though the economy is larger today. The wind has picked up, so I assume there won’t be any delivery of goods today.

I walk back

up to the house and make myself a cup of tea and some sandwiches topped with Indian dal, a great combination. I have an odd habit of mixing every kind of food together, at least according to my daughters. I read a historical text about Skomvær that I found in the office. There’s an interesting story about a post boat try-

ing for several days to bring out a Christmas tree and gifts for the inhabitants of Skomvær. It was winter and the weather was rough, as it usually is that time of the year. After many failed attempts, the islanders finally built a simple raft and let it drift out to the post boat, which unloaded all the stuff. The islanders then pulled the raft back in. Everything got soaking wet and it took them several days to decipher the letters. There is also a sad story about the little daughter of the lighthouse keeper. She was merely six years old when she fell into the groundwater cistern between the houses and drowned. It is said that she was buried on Røst, but there was a rose garden on Skomvær in remembrance of her. I quickly test

the simple idea of transferring pictures from the smart phone onto greaseproof paper and it seems to work fine. As it is getting close to midnight, I grab a book and crawl into bed under two blankets. Vitas, one of the workers, is still listening to a Lithuanian radio channel upstairs. I have almost fallen asleep when I hear that Trond, also one of the workers, announces that Sander will arrive in Keila in about 20 minutes. I get dressed and join the others. It almost feels like Christmas when we unload the boat. People are cheering as they discover some favorite goods in the dusk: e.g. sacks with flour,

orange juice, strawberry jam, dark chocolate and a giant canister with ecological olives. There is much rejoicing. We carry most of the goods up to the main building, but leave some of the heavier stuff down in the boat house. I got to bed again and fall asleep at once, since there won’t be any more deliveries during the night.

05.

Orcas and everyday life Thursday 23 July After breakfast

I feel that I want to exercise my leg, which is now much better, so I start the day of by picking up goods from the boat house, using a wheelbarrow. After I am finished, I walk to the northern cliffs of the island. It’s raining heavily and the wind is strong. It is however comfortable with rain clothes and woolen underwear, so I just stand still for a long while, admiring the


Great black-backed gulls that seemingly stand still in the air. Some of them are circling around the top of the lighthouse. It looks like they are surfing in the turbulent winds just for the fun of it. The gulls on the peninsula west of Keila – a part of Skomvær which is protected – make a lot of noise. A chick appears on the cliffs and gazes towards Island, so now I see what the fuzz is all about. They’re just protecting their offspring. After a while I’ve had enough of the wind and

feel that I have to get dry and warm, so I walk to the lighthouse. I admire the work of the engineers of the 19th century and do some sketches until I get hungry. Back in the kitchen I make some egg sandwiches and warm myself up with hot ginger water. As the rough weather and the fresh air makes you sleepy, I can’t resist taking a siesta under the woolen blanket. It’s really rewarding

with a nap in the afternoon, I should do this more often. I take another walk in the rain before preparing a ”rescue” stew for dinner. It feels good not to throw away food unless it’s absolutely necessary. Onion, garlic, broccoli, point cabbage, tomatoes, beans and an improvised freestyle seasoning, combined with rice, makes a proper meal. The theme of the discussion during this dinner happens to be animal welfare.

On the fridge

there is a scheme for daily duties. This day I’ve volunteered to do the evening dishes. I prefer doing the dishes outdoors, so I heat up water (rainwater from the tanks outside) on the gas stove in the largest pot that I can find. It’s so relaxing to stand by the outdoor sink, feeling the rain and the wind in your face as you dip your hands into the hot water. After recycling waste and emptying the compost bin I feel that I’ve done my share for today. Since it has been raining, the fresh water tanks are almost full, so we agree that everyone gets the luxury of a three minute shower tonight. Two minutes is good enough for me. I make some more hot ginger water with honey and eat several sandwiches with strawberry jam. Life can’t get any better than this. I think the modern society has missed a crucial point by digitizing and automating every part of our everyday life. We get lazy and loose the sense of living our own lives.

I sit up until midnight

drawing whales and dolphins, inspired by a poster on the office wall. Many of the species are really graphic with their black and white patterns. The Hourglass dolphin is absolutely awesome. I’ve been told that the skin patterns of Orcas vary between individuals, which makes it easier for them to identify each other within the group. A common species around Røst is Nise (Harbour porpoise), which

is a small dolphin-like Toothed whale. It can dive to depths of 240 meters and stay under water for 5–6 minutes. Sadly, its sonar system can’t detect the thin lines of fishing nets, so it often gets stuck accidentally and drowns. The workers

are really eager. It is past midnight and they are still fixing something up on the roof. They probably need to secure the tarpaulin on the roof, in case the weather gets worse.

Friday 24 July The alarm is set

at eight o’clock. I feel that I need some routines and don’t want to sleep my days away. Breakfast also goes according to routines: porridge with dried apricots, tea with ginger and honey, and sandwiches with strawberry jam. The workers join me in the kitchen to fix a steadier breakfast for themselves. While working physically hard, they need more calories than I do. Elly is still sick, so I feel a bit sorry for them, as they also have to prepare food for themselves besides of working. However, the situation doesn’t seem to bother them at all.

It is still a bit windy,

so Magdaléna goes out to record sounds by the two old masts. There is an wire antenna hanging between the masts. It

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Magical evening light inside the lighthouse. At left, the original wooden ladder, used for cleaning the lenses and the glass windows.


Reflections on the glass windows as the sun is setting.

Tremendous colors.

Evening light.

Sunlight makes the mast of the radio antenna appear thinner.


is used for adding extra precision to the GPSsystem. The accuracy is said to go down from 1.5 to 0.5 meters. The antenna looks really special. A vertical wire, hanging down in the middle, leads to an electrical cabinet that looks like a Smeg refrigerator. When it’s windy the soundscape reminds you of the Twin Peaks series from David Lynch. I feel that

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the right place at the right time. It takes some minutes before I focus on the right spot, some hundred meters outside the island. Because of the distance, I can’t see that many details except for their black backs and fins that smoothly rise above the surface. The group advances towards northeast, probably catching mackerel. I’m totally engulfed by the situation and follow the Orcas with my eyes for a long while until they disappear as smalls dots south of Røstlandet.

I have to exercise my leg muscles again, so I walk several times back and forth down to Keila. I probably look mad, but if you want to walk a longer distance this is a solution, since this is the only proper trail on the island. After my exercise, I look for tools and reusable materials in the workshop, and make equipment for the ”Photofishing” project according to DIY principles. I have to make a large hole in a piece of wood and don’t find a proper drill, so I just use hammer and chisel instead. It is always possible to improvise, if you just have the time. I find some small pieces of polystyrene, screws, metal wire and a broken roof stone. I am soon finished. It’s so rewarding to work with your hands as a contract to thinking, writing and sketching.

Magdaléna has prepared a taco stew and a vegan chocolate cake. As I find some overripe peaches in the cold room, brown sugar and cinnamon, I make a ”rescue” sauce to go with the cake. We’re awaiting Elin and Maria, who is also an artist in residence. They will arrive any minute. One of Elins friends, who is an art curator, will also spend the weekend at Skomvær together with her kid. As the boat arrives we walk down to Keila and help carrying their bags up to the house. It’s a calm and warm evening, so we all eat dinner together with the workers outdoors by the long wooden table. What a dinner and what a tasty cake!

I sketch for a while

We all

inside the lighthouse and then take a walk to the southern cliffs. Suddenly Magdaléna calls me. She is really excited, since she just saw a group of about ten Orcas southwest of Skomvær! Yes, at last I am at

Back at the house,

go for a slow evening walk along the southern cliffs. We spot some seals on the cay next to Skomvær, some hundred meters away. There is another boat trip planned for tomorrow, but I have already decided to spend the weekend

on Skomvær. I feel that I have gotten into a slow ”island mode” and have several ideas that I want to work with, while out here. I fall asleep around midnight.

Saturday 25 July Today,

everybody seems to wake up around 8 o’clock. We all want to say farewell to Magdaléna, who is leaving Skomvær this morning. Sander arrives early with the boat and comes walking up the trail with a large, wet bag on his shoulder. Shit, it’s Elin’s Genelic speakers. Apparently they were forgotten down in Keila yesterday and there was a lot of rain during the night. We grab some towels and a fan, and put them to dry. Hopefully they will be ok.

Magdaléna will get some sightseeing on the

way back to Røstlandet. Elin joins her on the trip. We follow them down to Keila and then return to eat breakfast. Today we discuss old building methods. There are quite a lot of dirty dishes left from yesterday, but it is however relaxing to do them outdoors in the refreshing rain. I leave all the glasses, cups, plates, cutleries, pots and pans outside so that the rain rinses away the washingup liquid.


Back in the kitchen,

I make coffee and pour it into a large pump thermos. I place it at the large wooden table in front of the house along with oat milk, clean cups and a sign that says ”We’re closed today until 2 pm…but please have a coffee if you want to – and the lighthouse is open”. It has stopped raining,

so I take a refreshing morning walk. The weather is calm. I see some old waves breaking against a distant reef, but as I look closer I realize that it’s the Orcas! It is as exiting as when I saw them the first time. They are moving faster this time and soon they are gone in direction to Lofuohtta. I walk back to the house and have a WhatsApp video call with my family back in Finland. The mobile data connection is failing, even though I stand on the highest point of the island next to the lighthouse, facing the Nykan Nature Reserve. It’s probably because of the weather conditions. I think that I saw a mobile antenna on top of Vedøya, about 10 kilometers away, so the mobile signal should be at it’s strongest at this side of the island. As the call is broken again, I am struck by the obvious: the strongest mobile signal should be received in the top of the lighthouse and the glass windows are thin. I climb up to the top and make another call. This time it works fine. My daughters are excited to get a live panorama of The Nykan

Nature Reserve and hear about the Orcas. They also like the concept of eating waffles almost every day. My trousers are still soaking wet, as I stood quite a while in the humid grass, excited by the Orcas. Therefore, I return to the house and put my clothes to dry in front of a heating fan. Since I don’t want to catch a cold, I put on a dry woolen underwear and drink a large cup of tea with ginger and honey. I cover myself with a woolen blanket and read for a while. I prepare

an improvised lunch and then go up in the lighthouse to do some sketching. In the distance I can see a boat coming around Storfjellet and some minutes later it approaches Skomvær. It is Sander who returns with Elin and Maria. They also bring more building materials for the workers. We heat the tent sauna

down in Keila and have a bath before dinner. The other ones go for a swim among the seaweed. It certainly feels tempting, but I wouldn’t still stress my thigh muscle with the cold sea water and having to climb up the step and slippery rocks. It’s however super relaxing to enjoy the heat of the sauna. We discuss and compare different sauna cultures and the possibilities of building a permanent sauna by the pier in Keila. I earlier got some ideas for a ”Bird nest sauna with a sea view

for Orca spotting” (see pages 131–137). Elin also has some plans for building a sauna on Røstlandet, and visions about a community sauna. Her friend Markku already brought her a sauna stove from Finland. I wash myself and rinse the olive soap off with

fresh rain water that I brought in two watering cans from the garden. You really start to think about the expression ”limited resources” out here, where every drop of water is important. I think it should be mandatory for everyone to get these kind of refreshing experiences of simplicity once in a while. It certainly makes you humble. I feel clean and grateful as I walk back up to the house. One of the workers has prepared pizza outdoors over the open fire. There are some pieces left for us. It tastes amazing after the sauna. However, we prepare a another late dinner with rice, salad, corn and taco chips. We share a bottle of bubble wine and sit up in the kitchen until 2 o’clock, talking about the old Sámi culture in Lofuohtta, ritual dances, charging stations for electric cars and brutal capitalism.

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Electrical cabinet by the antenna.

Low tide reveals seaweed.

Flower field east of the lighthouse.

The trail leads down to Keila.

A pier at low tide.

On the way to Sandøya. Lofuohtta, Mosken and Værøy is visible behind Røstlandet on the horizon.

Leaving Vedøya behind us.

Clear and shallow waters.

Maria at the steering wheel.

By the white beaches of Sandøya.


Grass fields at Sandøya.

Enjoying a beautiful day at Sandøya.

The white beaches.

Delicious whale meat.

Common ling, saithe and cod.

Elin and I.

View from Sandøya towards Nykan.

The inlet at Sandøya.

Fishing with Sander and Maria.

Fish shoals on the sonar.


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Learning how to properly clean and fillet cod.


Saithes, about to get cleaned.

“We serve organic�.

Rain water is collected in large tanks.

Flowers by the lightkeepers house.

The inner yard is shielded from the wind.

An important reminder.

Taking a selfie in the lighthouse as the sun is setting.

View from the lighthouse.

Beautiful cast iron details around the windows.


06.

Waffles, White beaches and some fishing Sunday 26 July

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After breakfast

and morning routines, I fetch some waffle mix from the freezer downstairs. Since the weather is good and it’s weekend, we prepare coffee, tea, waffles and jam in case any tourists comes out to Skomvær during the day. In the afternoon, there will be a tour to the ”white beaches” west of Røstlandet. I, however, decide to stay on Skomvær since I feel that I am still in my relaxed ”island mode” and it will probably be night until they return, as they will pick up two new interns, Anastasia and Raisa, at Røstlandet late in the evening. When it comes to ”island mode”, I get a nice flashback from my childhood. We used to spend a whole month at my parents summer cottage every summer, continually without a break. It nowadays feels like

a rare opportunity to get uninterrupted time at one place, as most people are running back and forth in the stressed society. I pack my bag

with sketch book, cameras, water, dates and nuts, and head for the southern cliffs. To my surprise, there are three people sitting at the old landing site. They have arrived with kayaks from Røstlandet and are now preparing lunch on their gas stove. Since I also do kayaking, we chat for a while and they are glad to hear that the lighthouse is open and that there are coffee and waffles for dessert. The southern cliffs are sharp, but I find a flat surface big enough for the sleeping pad. The sky is clear, so I just lay down for a long while and practice some ”deep watching” – starring at the sea and the distant mountain range in the direction of Bådåddjo. There are no Orcas in sight. I assume there is too much sound of tourist boats today as it is Sunday and the weather is lovely. I think I hear the sound of a giant bumblebee until I realize that it is a quadrocopter that hoovers over the laguna. It flies westwards from Skomvær, returns and lands by a family on the other side of the cliffs. I walk to Keila and as I sit down by the wooden table to write in my diary book, one of the tourist RIB boats drifts into the harbor. It seems like everybody is on the move today. However, as the introvert person I am, I actually prefer the calmer days when I get to be totally alone.

Sander arrives with the boat and we chat for

a while. He is a really nice person. It feels good to get to know some of the local people from Røst. Maria says that she feels tired and decides to stay on Skomvær to rest. Sander is however eager to show us the ”white beaches”, so we agree on doing a another trip later during the residency. I fry some waffles and take another walk, just to exercise my thigh muscle. When it’s dinner time, I make an improvised ”rescue” soup from ingredients that are about to turn bad. There is soup left for the others, in case they are hungry when they return later in the evening. I climb up in lighthouse. The light and the colors are astonishing as the sun is setting in slow motion at the horizon. It won’t be that dark in this time of the year since we are this far up north. I admire the panorama of the Nykan Nature Reserve, spot some Black guillemots on the sea and notice that the three persons that arrived with kayaks raised their tent only some meters from the steep eastern cliffs. I hope they won’t fall of the cliffs during the night. At least there is no wind, so it should be safe. They told me that they will return to Røstlandet tomorrow and then take the ferry to Værøy to do some kayaking there for a couple of days. It is quite unusual with calm weather for several days in a row out here, so they seemed really exited about their trip.


I drink a late cup of tea

in my room when Elly, the chef, suddenly knocks on my door. Yes, her flu is better and she could finally come out to Skomvær. We join her and walk down to Keila in order to welcome Anastasia and her sister Raisa, who will be the new interns at Røst AiR after Magdaléna. All together, we carry bags and other stuff up to the house. We leave some building material down in the harbor and in the boat house. When we are finished, we place some reindeer skins in the grass next to the house, and we all sit down to admiring the sun, which is still setting in west in the direction of Greenland. Elly has prepared some super delicious mørlefsen and we all enjoy a glass of wine. Here sits a group of people with mixed backgrounds and occupations, sharing a very special moment. In the middle of nowhere becomes the centre of everything. I fall asleep totally relaxed at around 2 o’clock.

Monday 27 July I didn’t sleep

as good as I use to. Probably, I ate too late and drinking a couple of glasses of wine wasn’t that wise. I spice the porridge up with a ”rescue” banana and make preparations for working with the ”Photofishing” project. It’s another sunny day so I apply sunscreen, which I have mostly forgotten. The tear duct in my left

eye is irritated, there is a constant flow of tears. It could be a tiny piece of debris, but I think that it’s just the wind. Being outdoors in the wind most of the time tends to dry my eyes out. I clean them with boiled water on cotton wool pads and remind myself of wearing sunglasses for some days to protect my eyes both from the sun and the wind. I walk down to Keila

with the fishing rod, cameras and the ”Photofishing” equipment. The first experiments are quite successful. I get some footage of seaweed and a jellyfish. One of the systems seems a bit to heavy though, so it is probably not usable with the rod. As both the fishing rod and the line flexes, it’s a bit hard to hold the camera absolutely still – a rocking movement easily occurs. But hey, this is an experimental and conceptual project. The process is more important than the outcome. After a quick improvised lunch,

I take a short nap and then spend the afternoon doing some more ”Photofishing” experiments. Back in the house I stretch out in bed to do some reading until Anastasia knocks on the door and tells me that dinner is served. Since we are now more people in the house, we extend the kitchen table and fetch an extra wooden bench, so that there is room enough for the eight of us. Elly has prepared fish cakes, pasta, salad and a mustard re-

moulade. It all tastes great after a day outdoors. It feels really special to sit here and eat together with this unexpected combination of people. For desert we have some left over vegan chocolate cake with vanilla sauce and coffee. Yummy. I do the evening dishes outdoors together with Maria. Elly seems glad that the kitchen is kept so tidy. Elin says that Sander really would like to show

”the white beaches” to me and Maria. We agree on making a trip there tomorrow, as long as the weather stays fine. After dinner, we study two large posters on the office wall that illustrates different species of fishes, dolphins, sharks and whales. I am told that the Basking shark, that is now classified as an endangered species, were quite common around here back in the days. Another fascinating species is the Greenland shark. Researches believe that it can get about 5oo years old, so some of the sharks that still swim in the ocean might have been around already when the Battle of Lützen was going on! The Atlantic halibut, which was seen as a holy fish among Sámi people, has sadly experienced a decline in population. The largest Atlantic halibut caught outside Røst was said to weigh almost 300 kilograms. According to WWF the Atlantic halibut shouldn’t get fished anymore, since it’s now an endangered species.

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I go for a late evening walk down to Keila and

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sit down by the boat house. It’s a peaceful evening. The sun is setting behind the protected peninsula where the Great Black-backed seagulls are guiding their offspring towards the sea. As I sit by the pier, I continue thinking about the possibilities of constructing a sauna out of the recycled wood that will be left after the roof renovation. There are two shielded spaces under the old pier that would fit the purpose perfectly. The sauna wouldn’t need any extra roof and it could be built almost entirely detached from the pier itself. That’s good, since I suppose the pier area is protected, as Skomvær is a cultural heritage. There could be a staircase so that you enter the sauna from beneath through the floor. This solution would better keep the heat inside. I also think it should be possible to collect rain water from the roof of the boat house into a water tank, that could be placed on a higher level than the sauna. This would provide natural pressure in a hose for a simple shower beneath the sauna, and the shower water could also be preheated in a heat exchanger inside the sauna stove. A window facing south would provide a magnificent ocean view (see pages 131–137). After a while

it gets chilly just sitting, so I cross the trail and walk along the edge of Keila to the northern cliffs. The tide is low and it is

interesting to observe the differences. Seaweed that normally is under water is now in the open air. The rocks are slippery, so I advance carefully. Almost all cliff on Skomvær are sharp but in the inner part of Keila some of them have really smooth surfaces. I guess that it’s tidal water and sand that have interacted to grind them down. There are thousands of black snails attached to some of the rocks that lay in the tidal water zone. Sadly, I also notice quite a lot of plastic waste that has been washed ashore. I carefully climb up on the cliffs and admire the sunset in direction to Greenland for a long while, before I go to bed.

Tuesday 28 July As I wake up

to a sunny morning, Elly has already made porridge for us. I eat it with rhubarb jam and oat milk, and also have bread and tea. I go to the workshop and make some modifications to the ”Photofishing” equipment, so that I also can attach the camera in horisontal mode. After doing some under water filming in Keila, I walk to the southern cliffs, attach a LED-light and lower the camera equipment into one of the smaller caves. It is a bit tricky since the passage is quite narrow. The camera bounces between the cliff walls. I notice there is a lot of fog on the lens, due to the cold sea water. I leave the camera to

dry for a while in the sun before I make another footage. It’s now lunch time, so I return to the house.

Elly has prepared an omelette and salad for us. In the afternoon, I do some gardening and take another walk down to Keila. The sun is really hot and since I’ve been outside most of the day so far, I go inside in the shadow for a nap. As I return back outside I bump into Carina, the other artist in resident who’s staying at Røstlandet, and Sander in the front yard. They join us for a coffee by the long outdoor table. Elin is going back to Røstlandet for a day so I help her carrying empty fresh water canisters down to the boat. We agree that Sander will pick up me and Maria tomorrow at 1 pm when the tide is high, and bring us to the ”white beaches” on Sandøya, west of Røstlandet. I return to the house and warm up a spicy lamb stew with rice, which tastes delicious. Elly tells me that the meat comes from Kari-Annes lambs – as local as it can get. Anastasia and Raisa have left some waffles and raspberry jam for desert, so I am far from starving. I climb up the lighthouse and have a What-

sApp video call with the family back home. Especially my younger daughter gets fascinated when I show her the broken glass lens and tell her the story about how it got broken during the Second


World War. They family is however in the middle of a cake baking project, so we say bye for now and hang up. I make a short video describing the ”Photo fishing” project before I walk down the stairs and lock the lighthouse door behind me. I keep Elly and Trond company in the kitchen. We talk about whales and Lofuohtta until I feel it’s bedtime for me.

Wednesday 29 July I wake up

around half past seven and have blueberry jam with the porridge, just to have some variation. During breakfast we discuss the advantages and the drawbacks of small societies like Røst. Of course, everything isn’t always that idyllic. For example it can be hard growing up if you’re somehow different or feel like breaking the social norms. I have experienced that myself, as I was bullied in primary school. Growing up in the context of a small society can, at it’s best, provide a secure childhood, but for some people it is just a claustrophobic and traumatic experience. I put my phone and cameras on charge, and

hand wash my clothes, since it seems like a good day for drying them outside. Before lunch I do some under water filming in Keila and take more measurements of the pier, just in case I would get eager about doing a proposal for a sauna.

For lunch

I eat some yummy lamb stew, left in the fridge. I pack some stuff for the trip in the after noon and then go up in the lighthouse. I sit down on the outer balcony and watch for Orcas. It’s once again a nice day with a lot of sun and only a bit of wind. After a while, I spot Sanders boat approaching Skomvær. We jump onboard and steer towards Røstlandet. Maria grabs the steering wheel and Sander gives her some guidelines about the route. He is calm and pedagogical. I look forward to driving the boat later during the day. We pick up Elin on Grimsøya and head west for Sandøya where there are some beautiful white beaches. After landing next to Heggelvær it’s only some hundred meters to walk. What an amazing place! I can’t believe I’m here. Between cliffs and lush grassland there are some small shallow bays with white beaches in the innermost parts of the inlets. It’s not the type of sand that I am used to. It consists of lots of different shells in different form and sizes, depending on how much they have been ground down by the tidal water and the waves. As I brought a tiny macro objective for my smartphone, I creep around on the ground, fascinated by all the structures and colors.

We heat up

a mobile grill and prepare a salad. Fillets of Halibut and steaks of Common minke whale are being grilled. The Common minke whale reminds of the Blue whale, but it doesn’t

get larger than 10 meters. I have to admit that I am a bit sceptic about eating whale meat for the first time in my life. I think the hunting seems to be quite cruel and I imagined that whale meat would be just greasy and rubbery – but it is actually super tasty. It reminds me of ordinary meat in its consistency. I got to face my own prejudices. Sander hasn’t hunted whale himself but tells us about the process. The harpoon has a weight of about 10 kilograms and the recoil is around 12 tons. As an explosive charge in the harpoon detonates inside the whale, it’s claimed that the whale dies instantly without suffering. The meat is divided into pieces of 50–100 kilograms each and left on the deck so that it cools down to about 19 degrees celsius. Then the meat is laid on ice, and hold some degrees above zero for up to twelve days. However, I am still not convinced about all the ethical aspects of whale hunting. After an extraordinary meal

we all take a nap in the sun, and then admire more of the landscape before packing our things together. Elin leaves her reindeer skin and some other stuff on Sandøya since she decides to return here later in the evening. She will sleep over on the island and do some sound recordings. Since the weather forecast predicts several sunny and calm days ahead, Elin and Sander discuss about the possibility of making a trip to Værøy in the small boat. If you start from the northeastern end of

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The Nykan Nature Reserve at sunset.

Printed logotype.

Cast iron details.

The old crane in Keila.

Lamp and lenses.

Corals from the beach.

Enjoying fried saithe and cod.

Viewing west.

Some of the lenses got broken during the Second World War.


The main house and the outbuilding.

Stools, reindeer skin and blanket.

The lighthouse covered in mist.

Getting up early to experience the mist.

The visibility drops below 100 meters.

Water droplets form in the humid air.

Light rain against the windows.


Røstlandet it is about the same distance as to Skomvær, around 20 kilometers. The big difference is of course that there is no archipelago that shields you, just open sea. This sounds a bit too exiting for me. We drive back

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to Røstlandet and make a quick stop by the super market before bringing Elin back home. The rest of us leave Røst behind us and head back for Skomvær. We decide to do some fishing, so we steer east of Vedøya and continue some kilometers out on the open sea. The sonar tells us there is a shelf at a depth of about eighty meters. This is a spot where you usually get cod and saithe, so we give it a try. Maria catches a Common ling but there is no larger fish shoal in sight on the sonar, so we let the boat drift to deeper water and find a shoal swimming at a depth of around 30 meters. Sander instructs me and Maria about different fishing techniques. Yes, now there is something heavy pulling on the hook! It’s really hard work to reel in the fish. My arm muscles are exhausted as I finally pull up several fishes into the boat. Since there are several fish hooks on the same line, I am lucky to get three large saithes at once. It would be unnecessary to catch more than we can handle, so we soon head back for Skomvær. Now it is my turn to steer. It is handy to spot our position and the surrounding depths on the GPS, which makes

the driving relatively easy. I feel that I have to pay most of my attention to the waves, the wind and the currents. Sander gives me some tips about optimal speed, depending on the roughness of the sea. As we approach Keila, I let Sander take over the steering wheel since it is a bit tricky to do the landing in the narrow and shallow inlet. We agree with Elly, that one large cod and a couple of saithes is enough for us, Sander can keep the rest. We put the fish in a large bucket with water and cover it with a wheelbarrow, so it gets protected from the Great black-backed gulls during the night. I eat rice pancakes for dinner and have some discussions with Elly and the workers in the kitchen. One of the workers tells us about an interesting project that he once was working on in Murmansk. I am full of impressions after another perfect day and barely cope with brushing my teeth before falling asleep.

07.

Macro photography and an abrupt departure Thursday 30 July I wake up hungry

and start the day with a big portion of porridge with blueberry jam, cocos sugar, cinnamon and oat milk. On top of that, I eat several sandwiches with butter, cheese and raspberry jam. It feels strange that the more you eat, the hungrier you get. Yesterdays feast at Sandøya probably stretched my stomach, so now there is room for more. We compare different languages and laugh about hilarious translations and confusions, for example some classic quotes from Norwegian rally driver Petter Solberg: ”It’s not the fart that kills you, it’s the smell” (the Norwegian word fart means speed), ”The rat is loose” (ratt means steering wheel) and ”It was a moose in the engine” (probably he meant mouse?). It always makes me glad when people dare to speak


a language even though their skills are not perfect, as it reminds us that we are all human and imperfect. Elly tells me about the Querini opera that was

arranged on Røst in 2012, 2014 and 2018. This was a special local happening that really brought the whole community together and also gave a broad visibility to Røst and the stockfish tradition. In connection to this, the popular Norwegian TV series ”Fly med oss” made an episode about Røst, the opera and the local culture. Even The Financial Times wrote an article about the opera project. I sign my name

at ”gardening” and ”evening dishes” at the list on the fridge before packing my rucksack for todays activities. When it comes to packing, I left my heavy DSLR camera back in Finland, since I have to be able to carry everything with me as I travel. Instead, I brought some tiny extra lenses for the smartphone with me. I haven’t tested them properly yet and now I feel it´s the perfect opportunity. I take photo shoots on different spots on the island and I am quite amazed by the quality, since the lenses were cheap and the depth of field is really short. However, it is great fun to get close to flowers, shells and crab claws (see pages 81–86). I even manage to capture closeup videos of insects pollinating

flowers and cleaning themselves. I think the process of macro photography is meaningful in itself, as you start to experience the landscape from a totally different perspective, which indirectly changes your mindset (now afterwards when I edit this text, I also come to think about deep ecology and ”My Octopus Teacher”, which is a beautiful movie about a man who builds friendship with an octopus). Since I have collected

lots of photo and video material so far during my trip and my stay at Røstlandet and Skomvær, it is about time to go through the material and backup the best of it on Google Drive – maybe I will prioritize that tonight. Right now I however prefer to stay outdoors, so I walk to my favorite spot on the southern cliffs and lay out my sleeping pad. I sit still for about an hour, just meditating and studying the open sea. It is interesting to think about the process of memorizing. I will bring home lots of visual material on SD memory cards, that later can recall memories, but I feel it is even more important for me to memorize a place just with my own senses: the wind, the colours, the light, the reflexions, the humidity, the temperature, the sounds, the smells and the texture of surfaces. I then can recall these deeper memories, as I go through pictures and videos back home

On my way back

to the house I stop to talk with a Crow and a Northern wheatear. I am fascinated by how fearless some of the birds are out here, and they seem interested in what I am up to. After eating a light lunch I go down to Keila together with Elly and Maria. Elly learns us how to properly fillet cod and saithe. First we clean the fishes and leave the entrails for the Great black-backed gulls – I once again come to think about the natural circle of life. Then we fillet one fish each. Elly shows us some handy tricks, I am really glad that I got to improve my skills.

It is unusually warm

outside, so we decide to eat inside in the shadow. Today there is a juicy stew with potatoes on the menu. It is so great with home-cooked food and nice to eat all together. After lunch I do some gardening, water the plants and cover the bare soil with hay that I cut earlier. In order to exercise my leg, I walk back and forth between the house and Keila until I feel it is enough. I go up in the lighthouse with my ”Photo fishing” equipment and do some experimental filming. I somehow manage to lower the camera smoothly and get several footages without smashing it into the outer lighthouse wall.

I sit down on the reindeer skin beside the lens-

es and admire the slow and fabulous sunset for a

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Doing some macro photography.


An insect is about to pollinate a flower.

Using a cheap lens for the smartphone.

Trying out different types of camera lenses.

A close-up of a crab claw.


Air bladders on seaweed.

Sea shells and pieces of sea urchins.

An interesting web structure.

A colorful sea shell.

An insect inside a flower.

“Kissing each other”.

Shining yellow in the sun.

Lilac details on small flowers.

Spiral forms repeating.

The shells get ground down.

Holes in a sea shell.

Green bud, about to burst.

Yellow flower stamens.

Yet another flower.

A broken sea urchin reminds of porcelain.

“Yin and Yang”.


A small seashell attached to a coral.

White, yellow and blue.

Yellow like the sun.

Thorns of a sea urchin.

Slim and crooked stamens.

Inflorescence in backlight.

Close-up of birds claw.

The inner surface of a sea urchin shell.

Air bladders in backlight.

A broken crab shell.

Rusty iron.

Shiny mussel shell.

Yellow markings guide pollinators.

Hairy seed pods.

Lime green seed pods.

A mussel shell in backlight.


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Fly resting on an inflorescence.


Flower versus bud.

Lots of stamens.

Blooming in four directions.

Tongue-like petals.

A crabs claw.

A pollinator with a long proboscis.

Close-up of bird feather.

Violet flowers.

Pea green buds.

Broken sea urchin thorns.

A different type of inflorescence.

Beak-like lime skeletons.

This inflorescence looks like a crown.

Antenna-like stamens.

Details of a joint in a shell.

Inside a bluebell.


long while. The silhouettes of the mountains in the Nykan Nature Reserve gets dusky but the sky doesn’t yet get totally dark this time of the year. It is almost midnight and a bit exciting to walk down the creaking staircase inside the dark lighthouse. One really elementary thing that I have learned here at Skomvær is to forget time, seize the day and don’t worry about tomorrow. This is easier to achieve out here where you are naturally spared from TV, internet and other distractions of the modern society. I read a historical text about Skomvær before I fall asleep.

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Friday 31 July It is a misty morning,

so I start the day with another visit in the lighthouse to experience the ”tåke” (the Norwegian word for fog) from the outer balcony. Yesterday, there was no problem to see Stavøya which lies next to Røstlandet, about 20 kilometers away. It is thus fascinating that I now can see barely 10 meters in front of me. I somehow start thinking about some favorite Norwegian words that I have learned so far: ”Kråkeboll” (Sea urchin), ”Kjempeblekksprut” (Giant squid) and ”Hval” (whale).

I return to the kitchen and eat breakfast to-

gether with Elly. It is nice to have some company.

She tells me about how it was on Røstlandet before the airport was built. If people, for example, needed hospital care there was just a simple helicopter landing site, a flat spot next to the cemetery, so that people could be transported to the mainland. Times have changed, but I imagine that if anyone of us would get seriously sick while on Skomvær, helicopter transportation is still the best option.

seldom drink coffee but feel this is the right moment, because there is also some juicy carrot cake left from yesterday. What a luxury! Elly shows me

I go back to my room and do some sketching by the writing desk. The fog is slowly clearing and a magical light is reflected on some seashells that I have placed on the windowsill. I take a deep breath and feel so grateful for getting to experience all of this!

how the water system works. In the basement there is a pump that is attached by a long hose to a rain water tank. There are several tanks around the main building. Each tank has a volume of one cubic meter and can thus contain 1000 liters of rain water that is collected from the roof. It is important that we keep track of the water level. If it goes under 200 liters you must stop the pump temporarily and attach the hose to another tank that is full – if not, the pump might run dry and the electric motor could possibly burn out.

I walk down to Keila to take some measure-

There is

After a while,

ments and do some drawings of the pier. It is a bit chilly so I wear both jacket and hat. I greet a senior tourist couple who just anchored their yacht. They walk up towards the lighthouse. I assume that they are familiar with the tidal water, since their boat is big and Keila is shallow. When I return

to the house, I do some gardening before taking a lunch break. There are some fish cakes and mustard remoulade left over in the fridge. I heat up some sandwiches in the frying pan and make myself a tasty fish burger. I

a comfortable armchair in the office, next to the kitchen, where the internet router is placed. Since the weather is fine and the internet connection seems good at the moment, I decide to backup some pictures on Google Drive. I sit down, go through pictures on my phone and mark my favorites. I first measure how long it takes to upload a part of the pictures. 400 MB in a quarter of an hour isn’t so fast but it is enough for my purpose. While the rest of the pictures are being uploaded I browse the fascinating book ”The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea” by Philip Hoare, that I borrowed from Maria


who borrowed it from Elin. In the background I can hear Anastasia and Raisa, who are preparing a vegan dinner for themselves in the kitchen while Elly is out in the garden, frying cod and saithe for the rest of us. I get to read some chapters and learn new things about whales before the upload is competed. Dinner is ready

and we all seat ourselves in the kitchen. The breaded cod and saithe fillets taste amazing with potatoes, fried onion and salad. I can hardly believe it is the same fish that we caught together with Sander and then cleaned and filleted with Elly. A feeling of deep gratitude once again flows through me and I think about the natural circle of life. Cheers on that! Vitas learns me the Lithuanian expression ”Į sveikatą” and I tell him the Finnish word for cheers, which is ”Kippis”. Anastasia explains that in Russian many different expressions can be used. Everybody is full and satisfied and the spirit is high. We talk about fish and whales. Sander tells us that the last time a Blue whale was spotted in these waters it was only about 7 kilometers east of Røst. A helicopter was observing it from a distance and researchers even sent out a drone that passed right above it to collect whale snot as it was blowing water. The Sperm whale is also a fascinating species. It makes sounds up to 245 decibel, hunts giant squids and dives to depths

of about three kilometers. No other mammal can go that deep. Before Elin settled

on Røst she worked as a DJ, traveling around the world and doing gigs in big metropoles. Tomorrow night she will play at T.H.E. CREATOR art gallery on Røstlandet. Most of the others are eager to go, but I think I will stay ”in isolation” on Skomvær, since it is soon about my last days here and I like to be in this slow and creative mood. We all stay up and play cards in the kitchen until half past one. As we play the game ”Pig” and some of us are vegans, we talk about renaming the game to ”Bean”. Somebody suggests that we could watch a film, but the rest of us are too tired, so we all go to sleep instead.

Saturday 1 August I wake up early to a new month with new pos-

sibilities. Everybody else is still asleep, so I sneak out for a morning walk, not to wake them up. There are lots of small birds sitting at the forged stair railing in front of the adjacent unrestored building, I think they are chicks of Common redpoll. They do not seem afraid at all, so I talk with them for a while and get closer and closer

to them. When I am about one meter away they end the discussion, lift and fly away. I walk the short distance to the lighthouse, sit down on the outer stairs and just breath in the fresh and humid morning air for a while before continuing down to Keila. The grass is wet and I avoid stepping on the huge black snails that are crossing the same trail. Black guillemots lift from the inlet, maybe they have spent the night in Keila. I walk back along the northern cliffs. The Great black-backed gulls make a lot of noise. I am almost back by the house when I notice that they are chasing away a White-tailed eagle. The eagle passes right beside me at a distance of around 20 meters before it goes around the lighthouse and returns towards the Nykan Nature Reserve. What a morning. I feel it is now time

for breakfast, so I go inside and silently make myself some porridge. After a while Vitas, Elly and Trond joins me in the kitchen. Somehow, we start discussing about rainforests and medical plants. In South America, there is apparently a flower called Devil’s breath that you can extract a white powder from. It is claimed that this powder, that contains the drug scopolamine, is used by suspicious people as a ”truth serum” for robbing or raping people. They blow it on you and as it is absorbed through your skin you go into a zombie-like

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Taking farewell of Trenyken.

Sander leaves my at the pier by Røst Bryggehotell. Kårøy rorbucamping in the background.

A view from the Røst Bryggehotell towards Vedøya and Storfjellet.

Leaving Røst with MF Værøy.


Onboard MF Værøy, heading for Værøy.

Breakwaters and a picturesque lighthouse in the harbor of Værøy.

The sun is setting right behind Mosken.

Approaching Lofuohtta, soon arriving in Moskenes.


mode. A least this is what the stories tell. Trond mentions the Voynich manuscript, an interesting document from the early 15th century that contains illustrations of plants and texts that no one has yet managed to decrypt – is it a magical medical book or just a hoax? We make the conclusion that mother nature provides us with both good and evil, from Digitalis heart medicine to Opium drugs. While I am sitting

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next to the internet router in the kitchen updating apps on my smartphone, I check some Finnish news sites. Apparently, there has been a corona virus outbreak on a Hurtigruten ferry going from Svalbard to Romsa (Tromsø). The crew as well as the passengers are set in quarantine. However, I get a bit concerned, since the bus route back to Finland almost goes through Romsa. I have to follow how the situation evolves during the upcoming days. It might be wise to head home a bit earlier and avoid traveling inside Norway during the weekend when the buses are more crowded, just in case.

I am about to do some more under water film-

ing in Keila, but the batteries are empty in both cameras as I forgot to put them on charge. Instead, I send a message to Elin about my plan to departure from Røst in the beginning or middle of the upcoming week. If I, for example, would leave on Wednesday and the slow trip home

would last five days, the whole residency period (including travel) would cover exactly a month – as we originally planned.

asleep, dreaming about different life forms in the deep sea.

I take a walk

Sunday 2 August

down to Keila and back along the northern cliffs before going to the lighthouse. On the upper floor, I do some measurements and sketches of the cast iron construction and other details. At four we gather outside by the large wooden table to eat. There is plenty left of the cod and saithe from yesterday, which still tastes super. It is a bit windy and feels really chilly compared to the warmth inside the lighthouse, where some data servers heat up from beneath whereas the upper glass walls work like a green house. I empty the compost bin and then do the dishes outdoors. Still feeling a bit chilly, I make hot ginger water with honey and then take a nap under the woolen blanket. The others are preparing for a late night at Røstlandet, since as Elin will have a DJ gig at T.H.E. CREATOR tonight. There is plenty of rain water in the tanks at the moment, so when the bathroom gets empty I take a fast and warm shower and change to clean clothes – so refreshing! I take an evening walk and spend some time meditating in the lighthouse before returning to the house. The others left for Røstlandet a while ago but apparently Elly also decided to stay on Skomvær. We chat for a while and feel that we both prefer the calmness out here. I read ”The Whale” for a good while before falling

I wake briefly

as the rest return from Røst late in the night, but manage to fall asleep again immediately. In the morning, I sneak up earlier than the others and quietly prepare breakfast. I check the weather forecast, which predicts some windy days ahead. Tomorrow as well as on Tuesday the wind speed will probably exceed 10 meters per second. I am now getting a bit concerned since may plan is to avoid traveling with bus during the weekend when it is crowded, this because of the corona pandemic outbreak in Romsa. I would also like to be home some days before my younger daughter starts in a new school, so that I can support her if it is necessary. After some thinking, I send a message to Elin that I plan to return to Røstlandet already today and I ask Sander if he is on his way to Skomvær. He mentioned something about driving out some workers later in the afternoon. I think this is the best option, instead of getting stuck on Skomvær for several days. If I only get to Røstlandet, I think the ferry back to Moskenes won’t be delayed, since it can handle some wind.


I walk down to Keila to do some under wa-

ter filming and then continue by the laguna and the old landing site. Once you take your time and get down on your knees, you start to notice interesting details in nature. Suddenly my phone vibrates. It is a message from Sander. He is happy to give me a ride back to Røstlandet in the afternoon. I walk back to the house and start packing my things together. This will be a quick farewell, but at least I am grateful for the weeks I got to spend out here and I feel that I got to see most of Skomvær. I vacuum the room and then join the others for carrot cake in the kitchen. Two new workers also arrived during the night and they seem to be really nice guys too. As we are many nationalities in the kitchen, we once again start comparing languages. I leave some of my left-over foodstuff in the kitchen and learn the others the Finnish word ”Täysjyväviljan näkkileipä” that reads on a package of whole grain crispbread. After I have collected all of my stuff, I leave

my packed bags in front of the house and make a last visit up in the lighthouse. I gaze towards the Nykan Nature Reserve and the open ocean, take a deep breath and close my eyes to capture this special moment – I really hope that I can return here some day. On a distance, I can see Sanders boat approaching Skomvær. It is about time

to go down to Keila. I give Elly, Anastasia and Raisa a hug and wave goodbye to the workers, who are preparing the next step in the renovation project. Vitas, one of the workers, joins me as he is on his way to Gávvalváhki in Lofuohtta, where the company is repairing an old cathedral. The boat slowly backs out from Keila and as we leave Skomvær behind us, we spot lots of seals on the cay southeast of the island. The sea is a bit rougher today and as we pass west of Storfjellet Sander points at an area of the surface that looks darker. He tells us it is the fall wind from the mountain. If you go inside that dark area, it can be tricky to steer the boat and if the fall wind is strong enough it can even turn smaller anchored boats up side down. After Storfjellet there is a short bumpy ride before we get shielded by Vedøya and Sander brings us safely to the pier by Røst Bryggehotel. I thank Sander for everything: the transports, the fishing, the company and the trips to Storfjellet and Sandøya. He has been the perfect local guide. A numerous amount of Kittiwakes

are screaming at Kårøy Rorbucamping near the Bryggehotel. I walk the short distance to Havly Fiskarheim. It is closed, so I return to Røst Bryggehotel and ask if I can leave my large backpack in the hotel lobby while I go for a walk. Since it is Sunday, most places are closed, but I

happen to meet a nice young couple outside the John Greger AS company, which produces tørrfisk. They are about to leave but kindly open up the office again and sell me five small bags of dried fish snacks. This is the perfect gift to carry back home, as it weighs almost nothing and is a typical local product. I walk past Skomværkroa and further along Fv781 towards Querini pub og restaurant AS. I asked about dried seaweed earlier in the super market and was told that they might have it at Querini. I find other local delicacies but apparently there is no dried seaweed at the moment. It would have been interesting to get some, since it is said to be really delicious and also contains lots of healthy proteins. Thinking about climate change, seaweed seems like a really smart source of protein. You don’t have to water it while it’s growing nor add nutritions since it can be grown and harvested in over-fertilized waters. I had an idea

of staying some days on Røstlandet before returning to Lofuohtta, but due to the corona outbreak in Romsa I decide to take the ferry to Moskenes already this evening. Since I won’t do more shopping, I walk back to Røst Bryggehotel and find my backpack where I left it. The weather is still fine, so I sit down by a table outside the restaurant and order Fish’n’chips and a beer. What’s a better way to finish my visit

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An early morning in Moskenes.


Happy selfie #1.

Happy selfie #2.

Happy selfie #3.

Happy selfie #4.


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at Røst than by eating some local fish. I send a message to Elin and Maria. They are surely tired after yesterdays gig at T.H.E. CREATOR, but it would however be nice to say farewell. Maria answers after a while and joins me outside the hotel for a coffee. Elin has to fix some things, but plans to join us later. MF Værøy arrives, so we walk to short distance to the pier. Vitas is waving to us from a van, he is going with the same ferry. Elin texts me that she might be late. People and cars are already boarding, so I give Maria a hug, grab my backpack and the other bags and start walking onboard. A guy from the ferry company hands me a piece of paper with some information. All foot passengers are asked to text their name, age and adress to a certain phone number. I think that they want to keep track on people because of the corona pandemic, just in case. I look for Elin but she is still not there. As the ferry will departure in a couple of minutes, I climb the staircase to upper deck and find a seat in the front of the boat, by the window. My phone vibrates as Elin calls me up on WhatsApp. I now see her standing with her bike on the pier and we wave to each other through the window while talking. It would have been nice to say farewell in peace and quiet, but since I decided to leave on such a short notice, we didn’t get the time for that. However, we will most surely keep in touch.

It is half past eight

and the landscape starts moving as the ferry turns around and heads for the open sea. It feels surreal, I almost can’t believe I actually visited this place. About three weeks ago, I stood at that same pier and didn’t know what to expect. Røstlandet and the silhouettes of the small island society gradually disappears into the sea as the ferry moves on towards Værøy. I can now only distinguish Stavøya and the larger mountains in the Nykan Nature Reserve. It is literally like exiting Narnia. I shift the perspective as we are getting closer to Værøy. Mosken is still hidden behind Værøy, but I can clearly see the profile of Lofuohtta on the horizon. Halfway to Værøy we meet a small aluminum boat, actually a Buster Magnum manufactured in Finland, that is going in the opposite direction towards Røst. The ride seems really bumpy, I prefer the ferry myself. As we enter the shielded harbor on Værøy, passengers get out on the upper outdoor deck to get a view of the beautiful landscape. The society of Værøy is completely different from Røst, built along the mountain wall. A small amount of passengers boards and the journey continues. There is still no sight of the bad weather that is predicted for Monday and Tuesday. The sun is slowly setting and the colors of the sky are magnificent. It feels like a perfectly coordinated light show. The timing is accurate, as the sun sets just right behind the symmetric Mosken island. I

take some pictures and fantasize about how the Moskenstraumen soon will get a grip of the ship, but the sea is almost calm and we arrive safely in Moskenes just after midnight. We are a little late

since the ferry Landegode still blocks the pier. Just before we arrived in Moskenes, it was interesting to spot the lights of the outermost buildings of Lofuohtta. Before the night got too dark, I actually saw the hut in Å where we spent our last night with my family. I bump into Vitas. He asks me if I need a ride to Gávvalváhki, but I decide to spend the night in Moskenes, since there is a camping area nearby the harbor and the weather seems ok. We are about five backpackers walking towards the camping area. It is quiet and most people are asleep. A sign says that the area closed at 22 and that it is not allowed to arrive later then that. After some discussions we all agree on finding a spot just outside the camping area. In a slope behind a hill there are some perfect tent sites. I chat shortly with a German guy who is also traveling alone. He finds a place down by the sea, whereas I raise my tent higher up on the hillside. The clothes that I washed yesterday are still damp, so before I crawl into my cozy sleeping bag I hang them outside to dry. The view through the open tent door is fabulous and the last thing I see before I fall asleep is Hare’s-tail cottongrass waving in the breeze.


08.

Sunshine in Ráhkka and and a rainy evening in Ivgobahta Monday 3 August I had the alarm set at 5:15 am, but I wake up

just before 5 o’clock. I would have liked to sleep longer and perhaps spend several nights in this idyllic place. However, I have to catch an early bus, so I quietly pack my stuff together, not to wake up the other people sleeping next to me on the hillside. I fill up my water bottles on the way to the bus stop, which lies down in the harbor. It is a peaceful morning and the weather is still fine, at least out here. Because of the topography, Lofuohtta is known for its variable weather. It might be raining cats and dogs where you are, but as you go through a tunnel the sun might be shining from a clear blue sky in the next valley.

Bus 300 arrives

on time. I wasn’t able to reserve a ticket in advance, since I have a Finnish phone number and the system relies on the Norwegian Vipps payment application. However, I spoke to a bus driver weeks earlier, before the ferry departed from Moskenes to Røst, and he assured me that it wouldn’t be a problem to pay with cash. A female driver

steps out from the bus. I explain the dilemma but she shows no understanding nor empathy at all. I am getting angry and have to calm myself down. It would be absurd if she left me here in Moskenes due to a malfunction in the bus companies own booking system. I once again explain that it was not possible for me to make a reservation on the website with a Finnish phone number. She now forces me to install another app, that I wasn’t told about earlier. Thanks god, the mobile data connection works and I actually get the app installed just in time for departure. She says that if I don’t manage to pay the ticket with my credit card through the app straight ahead, a penalty fee of 600 NOK is imposed. She also reminds me that there is another penalty fee of 1500 NOK, if I somehow wouldn’t fasten the seat belt. I feel like a criminal and have to take deep breath and bite my tongue not to say something foolish. This is about the worst service I have ever received, but at least I am onboard the bus.

The ride Is bumpy

and it is hard to enter the credit card numbers on the small touch screen. After some deep concentration and several attempts I somehow succeed, but I am still furious about the system. Digitalization can be really discriminating. What if you don’t posses a credit card? Does it make you a second class citizen? Nowadays, there are numerous of services that demand registration by credit card. After a while,

I manage to calm myself down and just enjoy the diversity and beauty of the landscape passing by. It is so nice not to sit behind the steering wheel, having to concentrate on the driving. The trip from Moskenes to Ráhkka lasts almost seven hours. It doesn’t feel that long, but it is of course a relief to finally step out from the bus and stretch the legs. I didn’t eat any breakfast and just had some fruit, nuts and chocolate on the bus ride. To my relief there is a fast food restaurant just by the bus stop. Hungry as I am, I order ”Lofasting middagstallerken” which is a fish burger with French fries, remoulade, salad and dressing. It is just ordinary fast food but it tastes ok. I just feel that I need plenty of calories and some salt. Rain clouds are forming at a distance but the weather in Ráhkka feels almost tropical, since the town is sheltered from the wind in all directions but south. It gets almost to hot by the outside table in front of the restaurant, so I enter the adjacent ice cream bar to cool myself down.

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Bus stop in Gullesfjord.


Awaiting the early morning bus in Moskenes.

The Moskenes Church.

Amazing landscapes passes by.

The front part on the buses were closed because of COVID-19.

Shallow azure blue waters.

Driving through one of many tunnels.

Barren vegetation and steep mountains.

A house is reflected on the window.

Passing by a mountain lake somewhere on Hinnøya.

A beautiful landscape in Gausvik.


I am allowed to check in at the Bjerkvik Hotel in about half an hour. This gives me time to enjoy some ice cream in the shade while writing in my diary book. It is just a stone’s throw

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to the hotel, so I am there in no time. The hotel is tidy and I am alone in the lobby, which feels good when thinking about the corona situation. I climb the staircase to the second floor. The room is situated on the south side of the building, so I get a magnificent view over Ofotfjorden (the name originates from the Old Nordic word Ófótr) and Áhkanjárga through the half-open window. It feels amazing, that I can now finally indulge myself to take a long warm shower. As I lay myself down on the comfortable bed, I am so relaxed that I fall asleep straight ahead, only covered by a dump towel. I must have slept for about an hour until I wake up from the distant, but annoying sound of a jet ski. A person is driving around in circles, probably trying to impress people on the beach. It looks a bit risky since there are many persons swimming in the water. However, the weather is still superb, so I get dressed and go for a short evening walk.

I walk southeast

past the roundabout. The panorama towards Áhkanjárga is extra beautiful, as dark rain clouds cover the mountains as

a thick blanket. I suddenly get nostalgic about a bicycle trip that I did with a friend ages ago. We then bicycled from Ábeskovvu (Abisko) to Áhkanjárga along ”Rallarvägen”, an old trail that was used when the railway between Giron (Kiruna) and Áhkanjárga was built in late 19th century. We spent a night in tent in Ruoppákbahta (Rombaksbotn), which lies about 20 kilometers from Áhkanjárga. I turn left

and continue to the church, which is surrounded by a row of birches, which is a common tree species around here. I can understand where the town’s Norwegian name (Bjerkvik) comes from, since the Norwegian word for birch is Bjerk. I walk back along the shoreline past the hotel to the Joker store. There are quite many Finnish-registered cars and motorhomes parked along Trollvikveien. It seems that I am not the only foreigner around. I buy food groceries for a light dinner at the hotel room and a packed lunch for tomorrow’s bus trip. On my way back to the hotel, I pass by an outlet store that sells Norwegian wool sweaters on 50 percent discount. Since I have some Norwegian crowns left, I check the assortment. I try several models and finally choose a grey sweater with some red and white ornaments. I would also have bought sweaters for the rest of the family if there just would have been enough of space in my back-

pack. Back at the hotel room, I eat a late and light dinner, brush my teeth and read an article about ”Rallarvägen” in a tourist magazine before I fall sleep.

Tuesday 4 August I wake up at 6 am and pack my stuff together.

Because of the corona situation, I feel that I want to eat breakfast before the morning rush. The hotel restaurant is spacious and there are only a few other guests yet awake. This makes it easy to keep a social distance and the situation feels relatively safe. After breakfast, I assure myself that bus 100 leaves from the bus stop nearby and then spend a couple of hours at the hotel room before checking out. It is a rainy day, so I wait some minutes under a roof before boarding the bus. The Troms Fylkestrafikk bus company has another application for tickets. I downloaded it earlier and tried several times to buy a ticket without succeeding. However, this bus driver shows social competence and some of us can even pay with cash because the data connection from the payment device is malfunctioning. I think about putting my mask on, but there are not many people in the double decker bus so the social distancing is good. I get a good view of the dramatic landscape from the upper floor. Raindrops run along


the glass roof and the side windows. Some of the mountain tops are snow-covered whereas other are embedded in rainclouds. We drive a while on higher altitude before going down towards Setermoen. Through the rainy window I can spot the very same cash machine where I lifted Norwegian crowns several weeks ago. Due to some road work we arrive delayed at Gárgán. According to the timetable, bus 160 should already have left. However, it is waiting for us and after a quick bus change the journey continues towards Ivgobahta. It is still raining and I feel humble about the alpine environment. It feels safe traveling with bus along the valleys, but I wouldn’t like to climb these steep mist and snow covered mountains. As we drive through Háhtta (Hatteng), a rescue helicopter passes by and I see red cross personal on fourwheelers by the road. Apparently, there has been some kind of accident or there is an ongoing search for a missing person (the news later tells me that a 50 year old man got lost, but he was found alive near the Swedish border). I don’t find

any updated information on internet about the Eskelisen Lapin Linjat bus route from Ivgobahta to Roavvenjárga (Rovaniemi) and assume that it is cancelled due to corona. Ivgobahta isn’t yet familiar to me, so I just have to see what happens. I might spend a night in tent there, getting to know the place and hav-

ing time to find out how to get over the border. I step of the bus by the Joker store and ask a woman working at the pay desk about bus routes and taxis. She has no clue, so I look for local taxi companies on Google maps. The nearest company has its seat in Gáivuonbahta (Birtavarre), about 40 kilometers away. I notice that a Finnish-registered motorhome is parked outside the store and wait for a while until the owners, a middle-aged couple, have completed their shopping. They could have given me a ride, but the only problem is that they are going in the opposite direction – they just came from Gilbbesjávri. Four loud Finnish youngsters load their rusty van with beer and speed away. It is raining heavily

and it looks like the weather is getting even worse. I sit down on a wooden bench in front of the store. Luckily there is a tiny roof the shields me from the pouring rain. The store closes and I feel like I am alone in the universe. Since I don’t feel like camping right now, I start thinking about other alternative solutions. After some googling I find a Finnish taxi company in Gilbbesjávri, about 50 kilometers away. I call their number and a woman answers straight ahead. Her taxi happens to be vacant and she says that she can pick me up in about 45 minutes – what a relief. I look for vacant rooms in Gilbbesjávri on a booking site, since I don’t

want to get soaking wet before the last bus and train rides in Finland. It seems like the only vacant room is a small apartment at Lapland Hotel Kilpis. It is quite expensive (about 200 euros) but I think I will go for it anyway, since it is getting late and I am getting tired. I will complete the booking once I am inside the taxi. As I sit outside the store, I realize that I am not far from the Lásságámmi residence, that is linked to a foundation that promotes the heritage of the Sámi multi-artist Nils-Aslak Valkeapää. I should really look into his art, poems and music later. An hour passes by and there is still no taxi in sight. However, after some minutes a black Mercedes parks in front of me. The taxi driver jumps out and apologizes for being late. She says that she got to drive another customer from Gilbbesjávri to Ivgobahta. I put my bags in the luggage space and we’re off. I first finish the hotel booking and then get to enjoy the rocky and misty landscape. The driver is talkative and we have time to discuss many different topics during the trip that takes about three quarters of an hour: everything between Airbnb and the corona situation. I check in

and get a key to ”Onnela” (means utopia), an apartment on the front side of the hotel. Besides of the door there is a doorbell and a sign that reads ”Friedland”. It seems like this hotel hasn’t been renovated in several decades,

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A magnificent view from Rรกhkka towards ร hkanjรกrga


The Tjeldsund bridge.

The sun is still shining.

View from the hotel room in Rรกhkka.

The inner part of the Ofotfjord.

A safety reminder about COVID-19.

Great with some food after a whole day in the bus.

A colorful flower installation.

Rainclouds appear.

A red boat on the blue sea.

Alpine silhouettes on the horizon.

Enjoying an icecream.

The church in Rรกhkka.

A green beach meadow.

Washing up and drying clothes.

Taking an evening walk.

Somewhere north of Rรกhkka.


but it feels good to be back in Finland and I am sure that I will sleep well here. The apartment has its own spacious kitchen, so I make some porridge with dried fruits. After a couple of days with packed lunch my stomach longs for an ordinary meal. After some googling I find out that the Eskelisen Lapin Linjat bus goes from Ivgobahta to Roavvenjárga as usual, even though it doesn’t read on their own web site. Apparently, I have to make my reservation through the Matkahuolto company. I buy a ticket online for tomorrow and do some reading before going to sleep.

09.

Leaving Sápmi and returning home Wednesday 5 August I wake up early

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and make some porridge. After sitting still in buses two days in a row I need some exercise, so I go for a morning walk to the Kilpisjärvi Visitors Center, which is still closed. The trail that goes upwards the hillside to Čáhkáljávri is familiar to me. We walked it some weeks ago with the family on our way to Lofuohtta. I turn around and slowly walk back towards the shopping center. On my way back, I stop to admire Sána, which is a holy mountain for the Sámi people. I can’t help thinking about a giant light project that was carried out here a couple of years ago when Finland celebrated its 100 years of independence. The whole mountain was illuminated, but the Sámi culture wasn’t mentioned with a single word in the project. We should really feel ashamed of how we have treated, and still keep treating the Sámi people. Finland hasn’t

even ratified the ILO169 convention yet, which would give them back their rights to their land. By the way, I would encourage everyone to watch the movie ”Sami blood”, just to get a sense of our colonial burden. The Sámi artist and activist group Suohpanterror are also clear about the cultural time perspectives. When Finland celebrated with ”Suomi-Finland 100 years” logotypes they made an own version that read ”Sápmi 10 000 years”. There are a lot of interesting young Sámi artists out there. I remind myself of the beautiful and touching short film ”Eatnanvuloš Lottit” (Birds in the Earth) by Marja Helander. The film shows Sámi ballet dancers Birit and Katja Haarla, as they dance their way through both Sápmi and Helsinki. It raises questions about the ownership of land and gives you a sense of the double identity among Sámi people as well as the contrast between a traditional and modern lifestyle. I watch as a large herd

of reindeers leisurely cross the main road and feel glad that they are free to move around. The contrast between old traditions and the modern consumer society get very obvious in places like Gilbbesjávri. Talking about consumerism, I appropriately enter the shopping center. Since I still have some Norwegian crowns left, I buy some ecological quality T-shirts for the rest of the family in a store that sells outdoor equipment. Since it is early morning there are only a few other customers around,


so I don’t feel that troubled by the corona situation. I buy ingredients for a packed lunch in the food market next to the shop and then return to the hotel. After packing my stuff together and checking out, I assure myself the bus will stop by the hotel. Two other persons are also waiting outside and they have got the same information. After some minutes the Eskelisen Lapin Linjat bus arrives from Ivgobahta and we get onboard. It is always interesting

to reflect on the difference in topography between Finland, Sweden and Norway. Not being far away from the Three-Country Cairn, it is so obvious that Sweden and Norway has a more alpine environment with steep mountains whereas the mountains in Finland are flatter. There is however something special about this minimalistic flatness. As the horizon is more open, there is another sense of wilderness, compared to Norway. It is also relaxing to stare out the window on a landscape that is familiar to you. The road is straight and monotonous. Occasionally the bus driver brakes when there is a herd of reindeers in the middle of the road. Around Markan (Markkina) there are large open beautiful mires. Since several waterways meet here, I can imagine that this has historically been an important place for trade among Sámi people. We make a stop in Muoná. I get to stretch my legs and visit the toilet. After Muoná

we turn east and cross the Pallas-Ounastunturi National Park. Fragments of untouched landscapes briefly pass by before we arrive in Levi and see the total contrast. It is so sad to witness these sterile strongholds of consumerism. Alpine Chalets, Colorado bar, British pub and Burger King. There is nothing genuine about these types of skiing resorts. After spending some weeks out on Skomvær, the difference between real wilderness and spoiled nature is extra clear and it brakes my heart. We pass by the airport

in Gihttel (Kittilä) and I think about the lack of tourists from abroad, due the corona pandemic. I feel sorry for the people working with tourism, since it must be a hard time for them. Hopefully domestic tourism will get some revival. From a climate perspective this could be part of the solution, instead of always flying across the globe. An old fighter jet is placed as a monument by the airport. This reminds me of our bloody history and the Lapland war, when Finland, forced by the Soviet Union, drove German soldiers out of the country. As I watch the fighter jet, I also think about the fact that the Finnish air force have huge areas to monitor in Lapland. The madness of warfare and the part ”Fighting each other” in Monty Pythons ”Meaning of Life” also springs into my mind. Luckily, I get other things to think about as a

women guides her eight year old son onboard at the next bus stop. It will be the first time that he travels alone and the driver assures her that he will bring him safely to Roavvenjárga where his father will meet him up. I make a room reservation

on Original Sokos Hotel Vaakuna in Roavvenjárga and check on Google maps where to get of the bus. It is just about a kilometer to walk, but I make a couple of stops to rest because of my heavy luggage. After checking in at the hotel and leaving my stuff in room 220, I take a walk to the railway station. It is a couple of kilometers and it feels great to get my legs moving after another day in the bus. The weather forecast predicted a thunderstorm but it is just sunny and hot. There is a ticket automate at the station, so I get to buy a train ticket for tomorrow. It is long since

I ate my packed lunch so I now feel super hungry. I decide to go to Pure Burgers, that is located only a block from the hotel. The place seems genuine and it has a cozy retro interior. I order a reindeer burger meal and take a seat between an old pinball machine and a nostalgic Tunturi moped. There are only a few other customers but it feels like I am waiting for ages. However, the burger I super delicious – Slow food is good food.

103


104

Taking an early morning walk in Gilbbesjรกvri. The Sรกna mountain is covered with clouds.


A dramatic landscape.

Cloudcovered mountains.

Riding the double-decker bus from Ráhkka to Gárgán.

Agricultural land in the valley.

Checking out from the Bjerkvik Hotel.

A rainy day in the bus.

Having just arrived in Ivgobahta.

A pedestrian bridge in Gilbbesjávri..

Kilpisjärvi Visitor Center.

At Lapland Hotel Kilpis.


Back at the hotel room, I take a long warm

shower and feel that this is a privilege of society that I appreciate. It is however healthy to try an ascetic lifestyle every now and then, so that you don’t start taking things for granted. I watch the A-studio program on the Finnish television. They are discussion the escalating corona situation and that it will probably be necessary for us to wear masks in Finland, sooner or later. I feel relieved to be back in Finland and that I somehow managed to fit the residency period within a fragile time window. I am not tired yet

106

and exceptionally feel a crave for some no-brainer entertainment. I force myself to watch the whole James Bond Moonraker movie from 1979 – what an achievement! I can’t help associating to sexism and #metoo, but then get carried away by the thin story and the hilarious special effects. After being in nature for a longer period, I always find it a bit hard to adapt to society. However, I feel quite relaxed now and instantly fall asleep.

Thursday 6 August I wake up at 6 o’clock

and go down for breakfast as soon as the hotel restaurant opens. There is plenty of space and only a few other people around, so I don’t feel troubled about corona

at all. Furthermore, I have the habit of carefully cleaning my hands with sanitizer. After breakfast, I take a walk past the Lumberjack’s Candle Bridge along Giemajohka (the Kemi River) which is the longest river in Finland, rising near the Russian border. My first impression is that Roavvenjárga feels like a sympathetic and vivid city. I sense some traces of Sámi culture och feel that I should return here some day, getting to know the place better. I enter a store to buy another packed lunch and then return to the hotel. After packing my stuff together I watch the news. The talk still goes on about COVID-19 and the use of masks in public transport. That’s no problem, since I am already prepared with masks. The politicians are also concerned about the arrangements of larger summer festivals. Apparently, the virus is now spreading mostly amongst young people. I check out and start walking towards the rail-

way station. Half way I make a stop to rest my legs for a while by a reindeer sculpture in front of the main city library. I proceed walking and then sit down on the shady north side of the railway station. A ticket collector happens to cough just as he walks by me, and I notice that I am sitting next to the ventilation outlet. Once you start thinking about the potential spread of the corona virus you start to see risks everywhere. Maybe I shouldn’t sit in front of the station where more people pass by? I grab my luggage and move

to the south side of the building, where I find a vacant bench by the track. It seems like there won’t be that many passengers going from Roavvenjárga to Oulu today. As the doors open, I put on my mask and enter the train. Since we are still not that used to wearing masks in Finland, it feels a bit weird to be the first one. Somehow, we all want to blend in with the rest of the flock. It is however strange how fast we adapt to new habits, once we get used to them it feels like the most natural thing. The train starts moving.

As we approach Giepma (Kemi), I eat my packed lunch, which is rye bread, yogurt, an apple and a green smoothie, and then change to a clean mask. After a while, I get to breath fresh air as there is a short break in Oulu, since I have to switch to another train. I put on a new mask and jump on the InterCity train towards Helsinki. The passenger car isn’t even half full. I assume that people are traveling less due to the fear of COVID-19. I start thinking about the practical arrangements when I return back home. Since Norway is still a ”green” country on the corona map, I am not forced to quarantine, if I go by the rules. I will, however, voluntarily stay isolated for a couple of weeks, since I traveled through the north of Norway just after the outbreak in Romsa. I will sleep on the sofa and avoid social contacts. It won’t be that hard, since I am kind of introvert. It is now berry-


picking season, and I anyway like to spend much time alone in nature. I also have lots of material from the residency period that I can work with, so I won’t get bored. After several stops

there is finally an announcement for Jakobstad-Pedersöre. The name of our home railway station was previously Bennäs, but it has recently been changed to make it appear bigger than it actually is. Every now and then, the national railway company tends to ignore some stations to save time and money, so the local politicians have to stay alert. It is sad how rural areas and the countryside are being overlooked in the name of urbanization. When it comes to important basic needs, food for instance, the city is far more dependent on the agricultural landscape and wasteland than the other way around. This has of course always been the story when it comes to colonialism. The train stops, the door opens and the circle

gets closed as I step down on familiar ground. My daughters and my partner meet me at the station. It has been a wonderful journey, but I once again realize just how much I have missed the family. It is healthy to break your everyday routines once in a while in order to remind yourself of what is important.

We drive

the short distance from Bennäs to Jakobstad. It feels surreal to stand at my own doorstep. Røst and Skomvær feels unreal, but the residency experience has changed me for sure. I am so grateful for being given this opportunity! I feel that I have lots of impressions to digest during the upcoming autumn and winter, and I am already missing Sápmi.

6

107


Just ordered a reindeer burger meal at this cozy retro restaurant in Roavvenjรกrga.

108


A thundercloud forms near Roavvenjárga.

A green beach meadow.

Onboard the bus from Gilbbesjávri.

Some graffiti in Roavvenjárga.

The Lumberjack’s Candle Bridge.

The roads in finnish Sápmi are mostly straight and flat.

A stone relief in the street near the Lumberjack’s Candle Bridge.

Watching TV in the hotel. Politicians discussing mandatory use of masks.

The meteorologist blends in with the map as she forecasts warm weather.

Reindeer art.

Breakfast in Roavvenjárga.

Some more reindeer art.

Sitting on the train towards Oulu.



10.

Some projects – sketches and ideas


“Photofishing” at Skomvær

112 nts ing” experime sh fi to o h “P g Doin se. in the lighthou d n a a se e th y b


113

Filming from the top of th e lighthouse a nd in the lag oon.


Using simple hand tools to make a hole, since I didn´t find a proper drill.

Testing how the camera fits with the construction.

Using recycled materials, found in the small workshop at Skomvær.

A simple construction for the “Photofishing” project.


Attaching a camera for filming horizontally.

Attaching a camera for filming vertically.

Rinsing salt water from the camera after doing an under water shoot.

Using a LED light when filming in a small cave.


The camera gets into spin

by the lighthouse.

Seaweed waving in th

e currents.

116

.

I myself and the camera equipment get reflected in the surface

Bright green liche

n inside a small ca

ve.


A jellyfish gets visible in the shadow of the camera equipment

Some different species of seaweed.

117 Getting a close encounter with a jelly

fish.

d at low tide.

Shells and seawee


The colour of the sea water varies with the

Breaking through the sea surface in

sunlight.

Keila.

118 A curious jellyfish.

Shadows of the camera equipm

ent fall on the lighthouse.


My own feet get visible through the surface.

Seaweed a t the botto

m of Keila.

119 Fascinating structures and colours.

A jellyfish looks for shelte

r among the seaweed.


Some sketches

120

The main building and the lighthouse at SkomvĂŚr. This is a picture from my mobile phone, transferred onto greaseproof paper.


121


122

Measuring and sketching some of the cast iron details inside the lighthouse.


123

Getting engulfed with Orcas.


124

Dolphins and some ideas about the “Photofishing” project.


125

More details from inside the lighthouse.


126

Wooden bench and cast iron window frames.

Inside the top of the lighthouse.


127

The radio antenna at SkomvĂŚr.


128

Some more cast iron details.

Door handle, wooden panel and lens.


129

Some rough measurements of the pier in Keila.


Bird nest sauna with a sea view for Orca spotting

130

A proposal for a “Bird nest sauna with a sea view for Orca spotting�. If placed beneath the pier in Keila, the construction gets weather shielded and partly hidden. The windows face the open sea.


131

The whole structure can stand on discreet metal pillars and thus be seperate from the rest of the pier – which keeps the wooden construction dry. Depending on the shape of the floor, it might be possible to use a floor hatch instead of a door – this would better keep the warmth inside the sauna.


A proposal for a Sauna – some details | Scale 1:20 Bitumen roof

(50x150) (50x100)

Insulation (e.g. 30 mm polyurethane with aluminum surface)

Double layer of thin plywood (bended and glued together)

Wooden sauna panel (e.g. 15x100)

132

(50x100)

600 mm

Durable wooden floor (e.g. 30x100) with narrow slits (≈5 mm) for draining Carrying structure made of impregnated wood (50x100)

Recycled wood used for external pane l (e.g. 22x100) These are not actual construction drawings, just a proposal. However, here are a few things worthwhile taking into account: • Sufficient ventilation (slits in the floor) – carbon monoxide can be lethal! • Firesafe chimney with cap – preferably of stainless steel. • Spark protection at the floor by the stove. • Don´t make the sauna space to big (takes long to heat). • Stainless sauna stove dimensioned by the volume of the sauna. • Window(s) of tempered glass (withstands hot moisture air). • Benches on different hights . • Locker room floor without slits (the heat doesn´t espace that easy). • After finishing bathing, keep doors and window open for a while (the construction gets to dry).


Rainwater tank 1 m3 (for shower)

Space for sauna or wooden terrace on the existing concrete foundations

≈3m

≈6m

max 18 m2

≈ 125˚ Table

≈ 55˚

Pie r

≈4m

m

≈ 9 m2 1.5

4m

3.4

m

3.4

≈ 9 m2

4m

1.5 ≈ 4m

≈ 13 m2

≈ 3.2 m

4m

133

Old crane

Empty space for shower under the pier

≈4m

Boathou

se

Empty space for sauna under the pier

≈4m

≈4m


134

Proposal #2 is to build a sauna (or a wooden terrace) upon the existing concrete foundations. Maximum floor size would be about 3x6 meters – as visualized in the picture. However, it is probably wise to make it smaller, so that it gets heated faster. About a third of the space could be a locker room.


135

The construction would be quite discreet, since the concrete foundations are at a lower level than the pier. The entrance could be on the side that faces the boathouse.


136

A vaulted roof would be a contrast to the straight lines in the pier. A simple mono-pitched roof might blend in better with the environment.


(S)low-tech ideas (just a couple of examples)

137

During my residence at Røst AiR, I also thought about different conceptual “slow-tech” solutions. Would it e.g. be possible to harvest renewable energy from the variations in tidal water levels? This might work by using the lagoon as a natural “water storage”. However, the nature on Skomvær is fragile and very special, so it is better to develop these kinds of ideas in urban environments, that are already destroyed.


138

If a sauna is built by the pier in Keila, it would be wise to collect rain water from the boathouse roof. If the water tank is placed by the boathouse, the water could be naturally pressurized in a shower beneath the pier. By using a long black hose, placed along the southern side of the pier, it would also be possible to preheat the water.


139

Here is just another example of a “slow-tech� concept. It might be possible to build a slow elevator that works with tidal water. Variations in the tide lifts a large pier float buoy. Through simple mechanics, an elevator floor could be lifted higher and higher.


140

FiR After having experienced Artist in Residencies a couple of times, and recently having finished a sculpture project in a municipality similar to Røst, I came to think about the concept of Fisherman in Residencies. Wouldn´t it be great also for fishermen to go abroad for a period to get inspiration and exchange experiences?


To: Røst kommune and Røstlandveien 37 8064 Røst 68570

Larsmo kommun Norra Larsmovägen 30 Larsmo

There are, however, some interesting differences between Røst and Larsmo. The topography of Lofoten is far more dramatic than that of Larsmo, which is situated on the flat coastline of Ostrobothnia. Fishing cod and saithe in the wide open North Atlantic ocean would surely be exiting for a fisherman from Larsmo, whereas the calmness of fishing with nets through thick solid sea ice might be an interesting experience for a fisherman from Røst.

____________________________________________________________________

A kindly proposal for a new concept:

Fisherman in Residence In August-July 2020 I was invited by Elin Már Øyen Vister to Røst AiR outside Lofoten in Norway. I got to spend some weeks at Røstlandet and Skomvær. This was an amazing experience for me and gave me lots of new inspiration and knowledge. After reading ”Stefans stora blå” – a book describing how the musician Stefan Sundström spends a year with fishermen in the north of Norway – and thinking about the established concept of Artist in Residencies (AiR), I started to associate to fishermen who are also artists of life. Wouldn´t Fisherman in Residence (FiR) be an exciting concept? For example, fishermen from Norway and Finland could apply for an exchange and get new experiences by visiting each other and taking part of local skills and traditions. This could, for example, work on a basis similar to that of twin towns. Just before I went to Røst AiR I finished a sculpture project in the municipality of Larsmo. The Perca navicula sculpture (see picture) symbolizes the connection and interaction between nature and culture – which is so apparent in places like Larsmo and Røst. Larsmo uses the words ”365 islands of vitality” in its branding. I noticed that Røst also consists of 365 islands – what a coincidence! Furthermore, both places have long fishing traditions. >>>

In times of corona and climate change the local nordic perspective once again becomes more important. We have many things in common but can also learn from each other. In Ostrobothnia it is e.g. very common to smoke fish, whereas people on Røst have a long tradition of drying fish. A young fisherman from Røst gave me the opportunity to fish cod and saithe outside Røst and I know some engaged fishermen in Larsmo. I might be wrong, but I have a feeling that if both municipalities would like to support this idea the fishermen themselves might get interested. Røst AiR is an artist run residency. Maybe future Fisherman residencies in Røst and Larsmo could be run by fishermen themselves, if they would get goodwill and some backup from the municipalities. After all, the basic things needed are open minds and some extra beds for accommodation. This was just an idea out of the blue :) I am engaged in other projects myself and can´t spend more time developing this concept further, but please feel free to continue if you think it sounds interesting. Maybe the municipalities could support this kind of an idea, or maybe you know local fishermen that could see some potential in this? Best regards, Simon Gripenberg

141


South of Trenyken.

The Nykan Nature Reserve seen from the Skomvær lighthouse.

Listening to Lofuohtta

The sun is setting right behind Mosken.

The silhouette of Lofuohtta as MF Værøy approach Moskenes around midnight.


143


When thinking about the expression “Listen to Nature”, I got the idea to make a “Listen to Lofuohtta” sound project by transforming silhouettes of mountains into sound waves.

Increasing contrasts in Photoshop and transferring the silhouette of Trenyken onto paper.

Editing the silhouette of Lofuohtta.

Printing and cutting mountain silhouettes.


Ready for some sound experiments.

Transforming the silhouette of the Nykan Nature Reserve into sound waves in the freeware program Audacity.

Listening to Trenyken.

Trying out different frequencies and effects. This idea might be developed into a larger music or sound art project.


Bird or Fish (?) sculpture As children we sometimes used to play “fågel, fjäril eller fisk” (which means: “bird, butterfly or fish”). A person hides some objects in the room. As the other ones are searching, they can ask “fågel, fjäril eller fisk” – getting a hint of on which height an object is hidden. In Swedish we sometimes also you the expression “varken fågel eller fisk” (means “neither bird or fish”). I got the idea for this sculpture from this expression and the Fish´n´Boat sculpture that I made earlier in 2020 (see pages 11–12).

146

Since there are three Great cormorants on Røst´s coat of arms, and Cod is one of the most important species for the local fishing industry, a sculpture that combines these elements would symbolize the culture and the nature of Røst. This sculpture also gives associations to Pietro Querini, who stranded near Røstlandet in 1432 and later introduced stockfish to people in Venice. The sculpture reminds of an airplane, since the export of stockfish is an important source of income at Røst; four Cods attacheded to the wings of the Great cormorant symbolize engines – boosting the local economy. The sculpture also illustrates the basics of ecology – that different species are dependent on each other. This is just a rough proposal, but feel free to ask more or develop the idea yourself – if you happen to like it ;)


147

I made some rough 3D visualizations of the sculpture. The parts could be laser cut from stainless steel and welded together. If the project would be realized, you have to think about durabilty and take wind loads into account – and construct a proper foundation.


148

In night-time, the sculpture could be illuminated from beneath.


149

Wheels give associations to landing or takeoff. The foundation for the sculpture could look like an airport runway (with lights).


150

One would have to think about scale. A large sculpture is more effectful but more costly and harder to construct (larger wind loads etc.)


The wings are flat in these 3D visualizations. They could be slightly bended to make the sculpture appear more alive.


152

The imaginary movement of the sculpture symbolizes forward thinking.


The sculpture also raises thoughts about aviation versus local traditions and food security.


Some graphic activism

154

Inspired by Banksy and Suohpanterror, and having worked with graphic design during the years, it is not that far-fetched to try out some graphic activism. I was thinking about Scandinavian double morality, and used a light therapy lamp and and a transparent piece of acrylic glass while sketching.


155


Screenshot from hbl.fi

156

Scandinavia and Finland have a dark history when is comes to repression of indigenous people. Sรกmi people were not allowed to speak their own language, they were christianized against their will and their land has been exploited. In Sweden, Herman Lundborg (seen in the picture), was head of the State Institute for Racial Biology between 1922 and 1935. He was obsessed with eugenics and e.g. eager to do skull measurements of Sรกmi people.


Easy to learn infographics about Sweden

I eat mostly organic meatballs, I am deeply concerned about climate change and I y to Thailand every year.*

Sweden covers about 450 300 km2.

* This is most probably based on narrow and false assumptions about the average Swede. ** The length of men in Sweden is 1800 mm, whereas the length of women is 1660 mm. The average Swede is thus exactly 1730 mm

long – given that there are no more than two differnt genders in Sweden and the distribution

Sweden is famous for its democracy, its neutrality and its weapon industry.

between women and men is 50/50.

Source of information: Internet

**

c

1730 mm

Always remember that it is dangerous to generalize. Please avoid to deďŹ ne others based on your own prejudices! Countries and cultures are more diverse and we are

1:10

all far more beautifully complex than we can ever imagine!

6

157


Screenshot from nrk.no

158

The residency period in Sápmi made me more aware of Sámi issues. Here is one of many examples: The city of Narvik uses reindeers and Sámi joik when promoting the city – and applying for the Alpine World Ski Championships 2027 – but chooses not to acknowledge the Sámi name of Narvik, which is Áhkanjárga. This inpired me to update the city’s coat of arms by reusing shapes from the olympic symbol and colours from the Sámi flag.


ร hkanjรกrga Narvik

159


Screenshot from yle.fi

160

A Finnish IT entrepreneur, known as the father of Angry Birds, supports a tunnel from Helsinki to Tallinn and has also signed a letter of intent for a planned Arctic Railway. This new railway would, however, cross right through Sรกpmi. When thinking about climate change, bird species migrating north and Sรกmi reindeer herders who are already struggling, this project can be questioned.


161


11.

Vegan chocolate cake

162

After some pages of activism, I think it is now time for some Vegan Chocolate cake. This cake was originally made by Magdaléna on Skomvær. I have now tried the recipe myself. The cake was so delicious that, when I was about to take a picture of it, there was almost nothing left. I also thought about publishing recipes of mørlefsen and fish cakes – but this publication has to come to an end :)


Vegan Chocolate Cake Super easy and super yummy.

6 dl of wheat flour 4 dl of sugar

6 tbsp of cacao powder 2 tsp of baking powder

1 tsp of of vanilla extract 1 tsp of salt

2 dl of water

2 dl of sunflower oil (or other type of neutral oil) 2 tsp of apple apple cider vinegar

• Put the oven on 175 degrees Celsius. • Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. • Add water, oil and vinegar. • Stir quickly.

• Quickly pour the batter into a baking tin (oiled or covered with baking paper). • Bake the cake for 25–30 minutes.

Tastes great with some powdered sugar, fresh berries and whipped oat cream.

163


ea S s t n e r Ba

Røst/Skomvær

The south border of Sápmi (approx.) National borders 100 km

nd Finla

Norwegian Sea

i m p á S

Russia

164

y a w Nor

en

Maps, routes and some statistics

Sw ed

12.

Jakobstad


ea S s t n e r Ba

Bøstad

≈20 km

tta h o

u

f Lo

Gávvalváhki

Moskenstraumen Å/Moskenes Mosken Værøy Røst

Røst/Skomvær

n

ia g e w r o N Sea

Travel route (Jakobstad–Røst) Travel route (Røst–Jakobstad) Overnight stays The south border of Sápmi (approx.) National borders ≈100 km

Jakobstad


Sandøya

Røstlandet

es

n ke os

/M

ry

r Fe

Vedøya

m

fro

/ to

y rø Væ

Stavøya

Storfjellet

166

Trenyken

Ferry to/fro

m Bodø

Skomvær

1 km


Lighthouse Workshop The protected western peninsula

Main building

Machine house Inner yard

Garden&Greenhouse Trail Antenna Boathouse Pier

167 The Lagoon

Keila

N 100 m


Some statistics about the route to and from Røst, walks and boat trips.

168

Date

Route

M.o.t.

Dist.

Comments

Steps

Date

Route

M.o.t.

Dist.

Comments

Steps

10 July

Jakobstad–Äkäslomplo

Own car

590*

E85/RE85

9077

24 July

Walking on Skomvær

On foot

7510

11 July

Äkäslompolo–Gilbbesjávri

Own car

250*

RE85/95E10

6100

25 July

Walking on Skomvær

On foot

6084

12 July

Gilbbesjávri– Gávvalváhki

Own car

444*

95E10/B.95

too few

26 July

Walking on Skomvær

On foot

8153

13 July

Gávvalváhki–Bøstad

Own car

39*

Bensin 95

6494

27 July

Walking on Skomvær

On foot

6089

14 July

Bøstad–Å

Own car

85*

Bensin 95

6684

28 July

Walking on Skomvær

On foot

6548

15 July

Moskenes–Værøy–Røst

Ferry

70*

Walk on Røst

11540

29 July

Skomvær–Sandøya–Skomvær

Boat

50

Incl. fishing

5142

16 July

Røst–Skomvær–Røst

Boat**

35

Incl. “orcatrip” 5102

30 July

Walking on Skomvær

On foot

7142

17 July

Walking on Røstlandet

On foot

7797

31 July

Walking on Skomvær

On foot

3129

18 July

Røst–Storfjellet-Røst

Boat**

25

Incl. fishing

16900

1 August

Walking on Skomvær

On foot

7199

19 July

Walking on Røstlandet

On foot

11109

2 August

Skomvær–Røst-Moskenes

Boat/Ferry 85

Leaving Røst

11879

20 July

Røst–Skomvær

Boat**

15

Moving out

7112

3 August

Moskenes–Ráhkka

Bus

330

Almost 7 hrs

2629

21 July

Walking on Skomvær

On foot

4267

4 August

Ráhkka–Ivgobahta– Gilbbesjávri

Bus/Taxi

235

Raining a lot

3209

22 July

Walking on Skomvær

On foot

8496

5 August

Gilbbesjávri– Roavvenjárga

Bus

425

10311

23 July

Walking on Skomvær

On foot

6150

6 August

Roavvenjárga–Oulu–Jakobstad

Train/car

475

8806

M.o.t. = Means of transportation Dist.= Approximate distance in kilometers * Excluding short local trips by car, e.g. Bøstad–Vik Beach and Å–Moskenes. ** Also a few kilometers on Røstlandet with electric car


Some of the places in Sápmi, written in Northern Sámi: Ábeskovvu = Abisko Áhkanjárga = Narvik Beardogorži = Bardufoss Bådåddjo = Bodø Dielddanuorri = Tjeldsund Duortnus =Tornio Finnmárku = Finnmark Gáivuonbahta = Birtavarre Gárgán = Nordkjosbotn Gávvalváhki = Kabelvåg Giemajohka = Kemijoki Giepma = Kemi Gihttel = Kittilä Gilbbesjávri = Kilpesjärvi Giron = Kiruna Háhtta = Hatteng Ivgobahta = Skibotn

Liehkke = Leknes Markan= Markkina Mearrabađaluokta = Bottniska viken Muoná = Muonio Ráhkka = Bjerkvik Rivtták = Gratangen kommun Roavvenjárga = Rovaniemi Romsa = Tromsø Ruoppákbahta = Rombaksbotn Sážža = Senja Lofuohtta = Lofoten Viestterálas = Vesterålen

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