The photographs in this project were taken along the Norwegian and Barents Sea, at the Arctic edge of the world.
Driving across over 1000 km of coastline, I ticked off national parks and scenic viewpoints under the never-setting sun. Between these, I encountered artillery batteries cast into rock, rickety wooden racks for drying fish, fences for holding back drifting snow in the tundra, dams, graveyards, quarries, piers, factories, roadworks... I had anticipated finding pristine vistas, but finding lumps and bumps under its surface came as somewhat a relief - that the myth of the Arctic as a sublime, untouched frontier perpetuated by adventure-seeking foreigners had inconsistencies. My camera pointed to moments that shattered my own illusion of the place, framing elements that hinted instead at the land’s capacity to support human living, which - in face of the harsh conditions here - was allowed to be piecemeal and slow.
The term ‘north-minded’ was coined by writer Robert Macfarlane to describe the phenomenon that draws one to extreme heights and latitudes, where there is so little dust content in the atmosphere that ‘light is able to move unscattered through the air’; northerliness a ‘mode of perception as well as a geographical position’. I had always fancied myself as north-minded, the oblique light and cold temperatures strike a unique calm in me and I like that remoteness can afford quiet. Taking these photographs and making this book with Johnny, I am beginning to understand the nuance of this term beyond its obvious allure and see north-mindedness as a way of getting to know a distant land. To be north-minded is to practise a method. It is to acknowledge our place in a landscape that is made not only of experience but also imagination - to go to these remote places and find life in the apparently barren, to be an active surveyor whilst moving sensitively and stoically in tandem with the land.