Friday, 14 November 2008

Snow and meat

Yesterday the snow came. We woke up and everything was white and clean and crisp, like a layer of icing. The full moon made it magical and all the kids gathered here to play and make snowlanterns and pulled the sledges and taboggans out of the garage to play. Today two lambs arrived from our neighbour who helped me cut it into the right bits on our kitchen table. The lambs were walking on the field outside our house only a couple of weeks ago. I spent the whole day salting and preparing a winters supply.

Monday, 27 October 2008

To Be

I kindof like it when weather interrupts my plans. There is nothing you can do but wait. No need to fight, get upset or panic. Just wait, patiently, till the storm has passed and the waves have calmed from 12 to 4 metres so the boat can return to its normal schedule.
Spent the weekend at Lofoten Artsquarter, where I organized the seminar “TO BE OR NOT TO BE” – Ethical and aesthetical perspectives on nature as resource. "People view and define nature as a resource. What does this really mean? Has profit replaced sustainable management and have we lost our respect and humility for the beauty of nature? How is it possible to approach nature with new eyes and review our present attitude of seeing nature merely as resource? This seminar will look at ethical and aesthetical perspectives on this subject in Norway and Tanzania, through the eyes of two artists and one social anthropologist."
On our return we stopped at Eggum on the north side of the Lofoten Islands. The waves were bashing in and the sheep were seeking shelter behind the boathouses, gently chewing away at the last bits of salty grass. In Norwegian it is the same word for weather as for to be. Weather or not weather (Å vær eller ikke vær) - that is the question.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Life is an inbreath

Went for a walk today in the beautiful late autumn morning. Being present in the moments passing, seeing the stream of water coming out of the rock and smelling the composting going on everywhere right now.
Life is an inbreath and death an outbreath.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

My grannies lily

My granny loved flowers, inside the house as well as outside, and she had an amazing garden and a considerable collection of plants covering all the windowsills. She died 30 years ago, but some of her carefully nurtured plants live on. When we moved into this house a close friend of my granny, Astrid, gave me a plant for the garden that she once had been given by my granny. She called it "Bamboo". That doesn´t grow in these neck of the woods but it looked like bamboo. Plants are for sharing! In our house I have a lily that my mum inherited from my granny and that she has nurtured for the past 30 years after my grannies death. It has the most incredible deep red flowers. Everytime it flowers I can feel my grannies presence. I am sure she is welcoming me back, ´cause it has some beautiful ones blooming now!

Monday, 6 October 2008

Eat something wild every day

Lingonberries and mountaintrout from a lake on an uninhabited island we go to across the sound opposite our house.

Last spring I went on a fantastic fermenting and herbal course by Frank Cook and Sandor Ellix Katz (what a truly amazing name!) at Schumacher College in Devon. They were a great team of wild knowledge and fired my insatiable hunger for knowing more about self sufficiency and establishing a closer relationship to the plants around me. I want to know the stories and the families and the uses, both medicinal and as foodstuff and herbs. Frank Cook has a great motto that I try and live: Eat something wild every day. I believe it is the best way to get closer to the wild and leave the stronghold of our separation-culture behind. Lingonberries and trout are my arctic wild treats. In London it would be dandelions.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Animal Architecture

The other day I took the children from my Art School out in the bay below our house to make houses and homesteads inspired by animal architecture. We talked about where animals, birds and insects choose to have their homes and what materials they use to create their houses. The children were so inspired and made amazing structures exploring the beach for good places and useful materials. They experienced that structures made of clay needs mixing with straw to remain solid and they invented flexible strings out of seaweed and worked out how to make houses out of stone, wood and straw. The younger children made whole environments with fires glowing of orange rowan-berries and ponds surrounded by shading juniper-bushes.


Last week I was in Oslo doing an interdisciplinary project with PLAN at the University. We made a workshop for children between 4 and 12 about visioning the future. All the stories about the devastating effects of climate change can be paralyzing, and we wanted to go beyond the fright and reach out to catch the children´s hopes and wishes. We created an environment to inspire new perspectives, with a great selection of books looking at the earth from a micro and macro view, a corner of cushions to think and read and a table of two microscopes and things to look at like leaves and bark and moss. The kids loved it, and one boy said " It is a landscape on Mars!" while gazing at a piece of birch bark. We also had a selection of "fly eye specs" to inspire future vision (Insect eye inspires future vision children wrote their wishes on multi-coloured strips of cloth and tied it onto an ashtree that finally was planted in a park in Oslo by the mayor and a group of children. The ash was chosen because of its roots in Nordic Mythology where the world is an ashtree named Yggdrasil. From its roots flow three sacred springs, including the Well of Mimir - the waters of wisdom. It is said that Yggdrasil connects all of the worlds of the universe, including the worlds of Men and the worlds of the Gods. A giant eagle roosts at its top and a dragon-serpent gnaws at its roots, while a squirrel called Ratatosk runs up and down the trunk, chattering messages. Lets hope some squirrels can bring the wishes on our tree out in the world and the wind release the messages for the future! This is a norwegian link to the project.

Monday, 29 September 2008


The other day I met an old man I know on the island outside the shop. We got talking about the weather and things going on in nature at this time of year and of'course about what kind of berries we had picked where. He told me he had just come back from picking rosehips and was going to make jam. I was admiring him, because I know how much work there is involved in doing this; carefully removing the top and bottom of the hips and scooping out the pips in the middle. All by hand. No shortcuts allowed!
Next week I went to the shop again and I met my old friend in the very same spot as before. We were both amazed at this coincidence. I asked him about the jam, and he said it had turned out really good and that I should drop by later to get a taste. This I did, and he gave me a whole pot of his amazing rosehip treasure! I knew every spoonful of this orangy red jam had taken him hours of his time and his love and I felt so honoured and priveledged to be living in a place where time and love still has space to flourish. Thank you Sverre!
Compare the nutritional content of oranges to rose hips and you will find that rose hips contain 25 percent more iron, 20 to 40 percent more Vitamin C (depending upon variety), 25 times the Vitamin A, and 28 percent more calcium.(

Friday, 29 August 2008

Back into wilderness

We have finally reached our destination back on our arctic Angel Island and things have slowly started to fall back into place. What a journey and how mind-boggling it is to suddenly find ourselves back. Surreal! After 4 days drive lead by Google maps, through France, Belgium, Holland and Germany, Denmark and Sweden with a car and a trailer looking like an overloaded Gypsy caravan, we finally reached our island at 11PM a week ago. The first thing we saw was a wall of grass that neighbours and friends had cut and hung to dry in the traditional way. All of them hid behind it and jumped out as we approached the front door, singing and playing a wooden trumpet and they had made lovage soup and baked bread and buns for us and filled the freezer as well. I was moved to tears and it felt like coming to a diffferent planet. Totally out of this world.
Ate freshly fished pollock on the first day and went blueberrypicking on the second and then I locked myself in my studio to write a talk and a performance.
Just back now, having done my talk in the Lofoten islands and the performance in Oslo in front of 120 delegates from all over the world at a conference about sustainable approaches to our use of the sea. I was reading my performance writing and my collegue, a Saami guy,
was joiking (the traditional Saami chant). A Swedish deligate from the Foreign Secretary at the Swedish government came up to tell us that
her entire table was moved to tears.
It was fantastic.
Also had the delightful message from Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival in Toronto that they have accepted my film Alchemy (the poetics of bread) at the festival in October!!! Clive will be in New York at the time and is going up to present it.
It is now another glorious day here with bright blue skies and sea, 20 degrees and still. I love and the wilderness and immense peace, but it also feels difficult to be so far away from a critical mass of people who genuinely work to change the world and hard to justify all the carbon I am consuming having to fly and drive so much more than I want to.
Have to try and find ways of dealing with it as I go along. Good advice is welcomed.

Friday, 25 April 2008


Spring in Devon is amazing. The abundance of blossom and wild garlic and the orchestra of birds and bees.

Magnolias are my favorite. I have tried to grow them on my arctic island in Northern Norway but never succeeded. Here they flourish. The bees are so lucky that can fly straight into those tulip shaped flowers!