Wednesday 23 September 2009

Gutta på Skauen - Lads in the woods

I love initiatives that grow from passion. Last week I was in Tromsø preparing for a collaboration with climate scientists which involved finding and erecting a lavvu (sami tepee) amongst other things. I thought it would be a very easy thing since Tromsø has a big sami population with everything from sami-kindergardens to universitydepartments. It turned out to be harder than anticipated until someone suggested ringing Gutta på skauen. One phonecall later it was all sorted - by a lot of retired guys who were tired of not spending their time doing useful things and having fun. In 2002 Per Rain and a few others got together and started DOING things - like creating opportunities for people to come to the mountains by creating a track and building a lavvu and turning up every Sunday morning to feed people coffee and buns. Now they are 18 guys - active and agile - working together for something they believe in that benefits the whole of the community. They recycle old watertanks and make BBQs, help people like myself with finding and erecting lavvus and have build up an amazing environment of small wooden buildings where they run their voluntary activities from in Tromsdalen. I am forever grateful and wish their initiative would spread to other places. We have made a society where children and old folks are redundant. This prooves the opposite. One of the members recalls his wife complaining that he had worn out 3 packs of cards shortly after he retired. All that energy wasted, feeling lonely and useless. Gutta på skauen has given him purpose and direction again. How fantastic is that!

Wednesday 2 September 2009


What happened to time? It got swallowed up by amazing days and nights of arctic sunshine, of sprouting brockoli overgrown by weeds in my veg-garden. It got absorbed in books, some workshops and yogurt-making, guests and gusts of inspiration - breathing in and out - sharing our wind with each other. Summer is now breathing out, leaving berries of all colors and shapes in its trail and autumn is enjoying the taste - bit by bit. A year has gone by since we arrived back at the island, and it still feels good to be here. Last week one of our hens hatched 5 chicks!

Thursday 23 April 2009


It has happened. Spring has sprung. I have sown my seeds, and most of them have sprouted and I am now waiting for some organic soil to appear in the shop so I can prickle them. It is hard to find up here. Not many people growing veg and very few are growing organic stuff. Surrounded by such immense beauty I think most people believe that a bit of chemical fertilizer isn´t going to make any difference. After all, Norway produces vast amounts of the stuff...

It feels strangely familiar. After my two year gardening break I realize how much I have missed it. It brings me in direct connection with this earth and with my food and gives me pleasure and beauty. It also brings me in touch with this powerful and pungent time of year. From snow and ice to exploding life that has been dormant for months. Like Hamsun so beautifully expressed in his book "Growth of the Soil":
Look! the tiny grains that are to take life and grow,
shoot up into ears, and give more
corn again;
so it is throughout all the earth where corn is
Palestine, America, the valleys of Norway
itself--a great wide world,
and here is Isak,
a tiny speck in the midst of it all, a sower.
showers of corn flung out fanwise from his hand;
a kindly clouded sky,
with a promise of the faintest
little misty rain.

My basement is filling up with life. Under a low energy striplight my seeds are growing - awaiting my new greenhouse. Meanwhile my body is screaming for nutrients after a winter totally dependent on shrink-wrapped veg from Spain!

Tuesday 3 March 2009

Cultural fermentation

A few months ago I had the pleasure of attending a fermentation course by Sandor Ellix Katz and Frank Cook at Schumacher College. I was already hooked on fermentation as a cultural transformer and enhancer, and was even more so after having fermented anything from cabbage to milk and learned about its cultural significance and wonderful health-benefints. In New York I went to Yonah Shimmels Knishery, a unique place for cultural fermentation. My souvernir was a jar of 100 year old Armenian yogurt culture kept alive by avid cultivators. On their wall I found an article from the New York Post from the 70´s explaining the high demand for this unique product. Hungarian film directors sent their limo-chauffeurs down to pick up a few jars of this magic stuff, and Armenian housewives swore by this yogurt as an all-purpose cure for everything from sunburn to deadly ills.

And it is suprisingly easy to make. All you need is a few spoonfuls of the original culture. Heat up some milk, prefferably non pastaurized and homogenized so all the live bacteria are still there. I am lucky to have it supplied by good friends on the island - straight from the cow with no middlemen...

Heat up the milk till it starts forming small bubbles. Chill down to fingerwarmth. Add a tablespoon of culture pr. liter milk (yes, you need no more according to Katz) and stir it into the milk.

Fill preheated glassjars and put it into a coolbag. Stuff the empty spaces with a few jars of hot water and towels to keep the heat constant, and leave it for 10 hours in a warmish place. That is all!!

Liven up your body and soul with this pungent activator and join the revolutionary spirit of cultural liberation ready to transform dreams and hopes into reality!

New York

Spent a fantastic week in New York. Presented my film about the poetics of bread, Alchemy, to a great audience at MoMA and met wonderful people engaged in art/ecology and nature/culture and felt very inspired by all the different things going on. Went to an awesome mix of weird and wonderful stuff at the Wondercabinet ( organized by The New York Institute for the Humanities curated by Lawrence Weschler. That alone inspired me to get a residency in this cultural capitol in the near future. New York is extremes in every direction. Fantastic but also shocking...for example the mountains of rubbish left in the sreets every night (where does it allgo?) and total lack of recycling and exessive use of disposable cups, plates, cutlery, anything...and the constant pushing of consumer items from shops. Impossible just to purchase even a book without having to resist ten special offers and a magnetic fridgemagnet! The $10 question is where all the steam from the New York potholes come from?

Friday 16 January 2009

SPARK - The definate CO2 friendly way to kick off

I would like to present the most ingenious vehicle for winter transport - the SPARK! Literally translated from Norwegian it means KICK. The spark is made of wood with double steel bars to enable rapid movement on icy roads. It is totally carbonfriendly and a sociable way of travelling, as you can accomodate another human being on the convenient seat in front. There are also special babycarriers you can attach to the front as well a baskets for practical transport of goods. To use the SPARK you stand with one foot on one of the steelbars whilst holding on to the wooden handlebars. With the other foot you kick yourself forward so the bars slide on the ice. Ingeneous, cool and sparky! The definate CO2 friendly way to kick off!Unfortunately sparking is a dying activity as it requires icy roads. As the climate is getting warmer there is less snow and ice. Sanding and salting is another great hinderence to a sparky enthusiast!

Thursday 15 January 2009

A celebration og dark and light

Christmas has come and gone. For me it is about making and sharing rather than shopping. Luckily we are far from shoppingcentres on our island! Here, above the Arctic Circle, the sun dissappears at the end of November only to return two months later. Christmas before Christianity was therefore a festival of light! My Christmastraditions are inherited from my grandmother who grew up on a farm. She spent ages preparing meat with spices, baking different kinds of bread and bisquits and my grandfather brew the traditional Christmas beer.There is a whole ritual starting at the end of november that I follow in a moderate way. I love this time of year. It is sensual with the smell of ginger, oranges, burning wax and firtrees - the latter we collected from a neighbours land and on a snowy day with a spark. I will explain that in another chapter!

I had my traditional Christmas workshop in the studio with my artschool where we dipped candles, did felt- and jewlerymaking. It is a tradition I began when I moved here and started the artschool. The kids bring hommade bisquits to share and parents and sisters and brothers are welcome to join.