The Ice…. How beautiful the ice was along the west coast of Svalbard where I sailed aboard the tall ship Antigua. The glaciers calve and purge forward huge chunks of ice, cracking and splashing into the sea.. meandering in the wind and waves until they melt and become part of that in which they float. The crevassed face of the glaciers are extraordinary, with the blue and turquoise colour of the ice just so incredible. This blue ice is caused when snow falls on a glacier and is compressed and the air bubbles are squeezed out. The dense ice of the glacier absorbs every other colour of the spectrum except blue – so blue is what we see! The crystalline structure of the ice also scatters this blue light making it the most exquisite turquoise I’ve ever seen. The world around me was blue. Every minute the tone of blue changed. The water was blue. The sky was a blue I’ve never experienced before. And the ice. Ice was blue… and black! As the glacier surges forwards, the gravel, silt and rock embeds in the glacial ice and becomes suspended in the frozen mass. The black […]
Yes… I know that is a silly pun… hehe…but for those who’ve known me for some time know I’ve often collected little stones on my journeys… because I just love rock… and the geology of Svalbard is astonishing! The geology of Svalbard ROCKS! hehe We were never so far from the shore that we couldn’t see land… and there is little vegetation covering the land, so the geology of Svalbard was always on show. Even when covered by snow, the underlying formation and structure of the mountains could be seen. I don’t know what it is about rock and mountains that intrigues me and I get so excited to see. I’m just thinking now about how many people climb mountains… and it surely couldn’t be just for the challenge. I wonder how many photos of mountains are posted on Instagram every day??? I don’t know what it is about big rocks and mounds of rock that captivates so many of us. It certainly captivates me!!! My high school knowledge of rock formation facilitated my recognition of some of the types of rock and it was exciting to see how the igneous and metamorphic bedrock layers and Triassic […]
I was conscious of not walking ahead of our guide, but enjoyed taking steps alongside; often quietly without words. I felt like an explorer. I loved every step of the tundra across the rocky, spongy, icy terrain. I dreamed as a child that I would walk across the tundra, and after my first hikes in Greenland, something sparked within me a yearning to continue taking steps across this frozen landscape. I loved meandering along the trenches of the watercourses and wished the day and the gullies just kept going. I quickly found a rhythm of walking without actually looking directly down to where I stepped – even with my knee not completely strong again I felt a comfort in my stride. I was able to casually scan as I walked and so many fascinating things intrigued me; the geology, plants, animal remains, historical archaeological artifacts, the snow, the ice, the waves, the light. Everywhere I looked was interesting. Walking the land helped me to construct in my thoughts the environment and circumstances early explorers and settlers had to contend with, in the times of early exploration; with those times but a speck on the timeline of Svalbard’s […]
I heard a thunderous cracking and deep rumbling boom. Where was the splash? My eye searched for the plume of misty water rising from the huge chunk of ice falling from the glacier front… but I couldn’t see anything. I missed it this time, but often I saw this immense fissured, white expanse of ice expel chunks and pillars into the freezing waters of western Svalbard. The groaning, cracking roar is unforgettable. The glacier has a voice as it pulses and surges being drawn by gravity toward the sea. In slow motion, the falling structure of ice slides and crumbles into an engulfing, expanding, rising wave that itself has created. The huge displaced chunks of ice bob randomly behind the radiating wave that expands slowly away from the glacial front. Every piece of floating ice in the path of this rising arc of water has it’s turn to move and reposition on the near freezing water, and their sploshes answer in response to the recent glacial fracture. For me there’s something magnificent about witnessing a glacier calving. I know that the increase speed of progression of glaciers especially in the Arctic Archipelago of Svalbard is likely […]
It’s the wind and waves. The wind and waves determine the way we journey on the tall ship Antigua in the Arctic waters of Svalbard. A Force 8 gale was predicted for most of the following week… so the wind and waves were already penciling in our journey as we boarded the ship in Longyearbyen in Svalbard. I’ve been anticipating this journey for 18 months … and as the crew cast off the thick yellow rope from the mooring in Longyearnyen… if felt quite surreal feeling the gentle movement of being on the water again. I love the ocean. I feel comfortable there. I feel more land-sick returning to land than sea-sick on the ocean. I did however have a hefty supply of fresh ginger and ginger tablets – ‘just-in-case’. I’ve now returned from this incredible journey to the Arctic and have my ‘land-legs’ back, and I’m back on the grid, so I would like to share some my experiences in the Arctic; and follow with our journey from Oslo to London in our 1921 Vintage car – Rosie. I’ve always loved boats; and so does Max! I helped my dad build one as a child… […]
“They look like sheep.. what do you think Max”, said Dr John aboard the Akademik Shokalskiy looking toward the cliffs and soft slopes of tundra Wrangel Island. “They’re Polar Bears”, said Max incredulously and asked Rodney Russ the Expedition leader of Heritage Expeditions to have a look for himself. Rodney at first thought they were lumps of ice and Alexander Gruzdev from Wrangle Island State Nature reserve said initially that it couldn’t be Polar Bears because there wouldn’t be that many… but there WERE that many! Within 15 minutes we quietly embarked into zodiacs to cruise slowly and quietly past this natural phenomenon difficult to adequately articulate. 181 – one hundred and eighty-one Polar Bears on the hillside around the carcass of a dead whale… with approximately 60 others walking towards the round-stoned beach. Rangers from the island confirmed the presence of 260 bears that day; one mum with quadruplets; and many with triplets. There seemed to be a second mum with quads, but upon careful inspection it can be seen that the mum is endeavouring to herd away the fourth from her own triplets. This Polar Bear feasting on a whale was an incredulous […]
"The Arctic Circle is a nexus where art intersects science, architecture and activism—an incubator for thought and experimentation for artists and innovators who seek out and foster areas of collaboration to engage in the central issues of our time.".... and I have the privilege of being part of this incredible residency. Wooo Hooo!!!
During October 2018, I will be spending nearly 3 weeks on a the Antigua - a barquentine tall ship in the Arctic environs of Svalbard, Spitsbergen, with a group of creatives and scientists; where I will continue to ...