Arctic here now/ there then;


5-6TH AUGUST: It was almost dark when the plane took off from Oslo at 10.30 pm. For the next hour the sky remained quite dim and then as we flew further north a glowing sunrise began to erupt in a circle. Red in the middle and lighter bright pink around the rims of the circle, falling west and east. As we continued north the magical horizon glow became a rainbow of light, bright red against the dark Prussian ground merging into orange and yellow, lime green, turquoise, sky blue into deeper darker richer blue above. The rainbow grew in intensity until at 00.29 on the morning of Saturday the 6th of August the plane came into view of the sun, an ultra-fresh golden pink glow! Now in the realm of the light which is up, and will remain up for weeks, constantly circling above the horizon.
Summertime in the Arctic- skies a roar!
What will constant sunshine be like? How will it feel to be living with continuous light? How big will the glaciers be? And how many amazing new colours, showing deeply compressed air bubbles, will I see?
There is not really a sunrise or a sunset anywhere, just a spinning Earth, spinning in or out of view of the sun. The summer Arctic spins constantly in view of the sun, creating complete light! WOW
At 1.20 am we began descending to Longyearbyen into an amazing sea of clouds and we continued flying down towards definition, more light, more shadow- big waves of EVERYTHING.
From red to pink it is getting lighter. The sky rainbow is growing lighter/ milkier/ paler and the clouds are also growing lighter/ whiter/ bluer/ less grey. Night-time is fading away!
We spin, we surge
BEI (North) we see, we are now, we feel, we melt always
One. Nothing and everything. Being.
Lower below one layer of clouds, lower and below, do I now see snow? It is another layer of cloud! I have never experienced this before- such distinct layers with much distance in between; realms. And where is the horizon? There are so many layers of sky! And how come when we emerge from one thick layer, we do not then see clouds where we have come from but clear blue space above? Where did the layer above go? Is it just that we are also moving forward at hundreds of KM per hour and that the clouds get lost behind us? One more layer down and then DEEP Prussian mountains, rock and ice and snow. Rolling, surging, cloud banks, cloud glaciers, cloud mist, cloud fog; merging clouds, land and sea and sky, WOW! “My God” (said the Italian tourist next to me on the airoplane) Tired now, rest, sleep? Will I ever sleep? 3 am in bed I lay and squirmed until my mind fell quiet and I slept and dreamt.
6th: All day I have explored amid the pink areas of the Longyearbyen map- pink= safe/ unprotected polar Bear area, the extremities feel risky and exciting, up hills, I drew. Dogs howling, cotton fluffing in the breeze, geese gathering, settling into the water, squawking and later they crossed the road in a line, they are gathering in preparation for migration to the South of Europe (/ Africa?). A long walk to see the first glacier of my life. Brown gushing river of ice melt tumbling off the mountain between bounders and shale. (Mountain in Norwegian: veller). A trip to Galleri Svalbard, conversations about the technique of Polarised etching and a discussion about being artist in residence- hiring one of their studios, next weeks perhaps or when I return from Petunia if I need an inside space to make a big painting. Explorations around the very small and refreshingly simple city and now a plan to swim tomorrow. Then I found the Svalbard COOP, a brilliant and expensive supermarket and returned back to write and communicate and cook and eat and write and research. Two German scientists research mosquito’s and Jana from Czech researching air and ice and levels of everything in everything. Some beautiful Lichen, a new species? Green and black, given as a gift to me on a rock from a far mountain. Reindeer antlers and whale tusks collected and placed beside houses, I hope I see some of these majestic creatures whilst I am in this wonderful north.
I arrived in the Arctic at 2am this morning.
There is so much amazing, wonderful space. The city is small (more like a British village) and simple. Behind me (photo below) is the airport car park the landscape which leads north to the pole.
I have been exploring all day and have just returned to cook supper in the Czech Research Station where I will be based for the next week. There is a great shop with a whole ‘free from’ isle selling delicious and expensive treats.
Today I am staying with two German scientists who are researching mosquito’s and one Czech woman who is hosting the station and does research into air and ice- it is such a privileged to be here communicating about our individual research- mine into the landscape and atmosphere and how to represent them on many levels with paint. There is a lovely atmosphere in the house which comes from everybody being equally intrigued in each other’s daily journeys.
Just a quick email to let you know that I have arrived. Hope you’re all having a nice weekend.
Love you all
Sunday 7th: Rain from waking to now 11.21am. Having long sleeps to allow my body to rest after one ill week with Labrynthitis and hopefully a deep inner ear recovery is/ will be taking place. Allow aware to rest while it is comfortable and warm in this city house (stilt raised wooden hut just off gravel road) before I spend 7 days and nights in an unheated cabin up in Pentuniabukta.
A cold run in Arctic Summer rain like icy specs hitting pink hands and raw fingers. Hot showers do thaw. And arctic saunas do burn a good warmth. Swam in the turquoise ozone, furthest north pool in the world- after spending some time drawing in the furthest north church in the world- a warm, hospitable place open 24 hours a day with honesty boxes for tea, coffee, biscuits and books. Politically involved in climate change issues- prayers for humans to be aware of saving nature…
Monday morning: A broken sleep, awakened through the night by the sunlight and by distant sounds (generally the surroundings of the station seem noiseless) and perhaps I had eaten too late my body was trying to simultaneously work and rest. Another run, far and energised by last nights mammoth meal which involved nourishing Quinoa protein. Purged on the bridge above the brown arctic river gushing fast between rocks down from the glaciers to Adventfjorden and into Isafjorden, the sea.
Thoughts of John Franklin as I saw Reindeer antlers lying on the ground and imagined his starving team gnawing on the marrow from old bones and roasting bits of leather from their old shoes to provide a little nutrition- along with Tripe de Roche- their daily staple of Arctic Lichen.
Extract from an email to Caroline: “I am so excited to be here- every way I turn there is a blow your head off view- I am so lucky to be living this adventure.
Funny that you called me an Arctic Turn- about an hour ago I was attacked by a group of Arctic Turns! I laughed lots:)
Lots of happy love. Hope you and Will are happy too.
I have been drawing a painting all day, a huge mountain from a window seat inside the Bibliotek, the Glaciers sitting outside on the muddy gravel by the edge of the road and the view out of Adventfjordur towards Isafjorden, reflections in puddles. Drizzle and fog rising and falling drifting east, west south and north- swirling it drips down into ones exploration and then soars off to drape over a different mountain, leaving delightful clarity and brighter colours.
This evening I discovered a beautifully positioned platform belonging to the bird watching hut, where I intend to paint tomorrow. Just in from of the Fjords edge the views East and West are spectacular!
Questions forming every hour, my inquisitiveness about this Arctic land is constant and growing more-so as I draw and paint with intense concentration, beginning to profoundly understand what this majestic landscape is about.
Desires to learn about the Geology of Svalbard- the Czechs will be able to teach me (PDF on its way.) Amazing red shafts of stone tumble down the mountains up high. It is known locally as ‘Old Red’ as it is the oldest sediment in Svalbard which usually remains very deep down in the land but due to mining has shifted up to the surface of the Earth. There are still three active mines in Svalbard, one about 10KM away from Longyearbyen where two hundred locals travel and work.
The soul cleansing river ‘Longyear Alva’ which I love standing on top of (straddling the fast passage of water there are several bridges in Longyearbyen,) is a gushing surge of glacier melt from three sources south of the city…
…As the mild summer season changes to autumn and the active layer of ground freezes over the deep permafrost, Longyear Alva freezes and the flow ceases. As winter endures the glaciers continuously grow back to their full size again, until late spring when the temperatures rise once more and the melting process resumes. (The warmer the annual temperatures get, the less time the glaciers have to grow, the more melt water flows down to the Fjords, causing sea levels to rise; we must do all we can to prevent human behaviour creating climate change!)
Email to Svalbard University: “Dear UNIS Information department,
I am a landscape artist from Scotland/ Painting Lecturer from Dundee University, currently staying in Longyearbyen at the Czech Research Station. I will be in Longyearbyen until Saturday the 13th when I will travel up to Petuniabukta where I will stay for 8 days.
My intention on Svalbard is to explore and absorb as much about the landscape as possible so I am spending most of my time outside walking, drawing, painting and documenting with a camera. I wondered if there might be a possibility of joining one of your university field trips this week? It would be fantastic to explore further afield than the Longyearbyen ‘safe area’ boundaries with a group of scientists/ students.
It is a rich experience to be sharing a house with Czech scientists and it would be fascinating to communicate with your students about their field work and I will be very happy to discuss my artistic processes if there is interest.
Tomorrow I plan to meet someone at the museum at 12pm so if convenient I could visit the university after that.
Best wishes,
The colours and light are constantly changing, the glacial river is gushing (it feels beautifully cleansing to stand on a bridge over the fast water), geese are gathering (with fluffy grey babies) ready to migrate South, the Arctic Turns are aggressively protecting their eggs and babies (I was dived at today which was great fun!) and the wild flowers and cotton are dancing in the summer air. It is cold and has been mostly foggy and drizzly but even in dull weather it is amazing to be living in one of the Northernmost settlements on Earth- I am constantly so excited and grateful to the universe for being here!
11pm the clouds in front of the sun completely cleared and golden light streaked across the thriving summer vegetation and up the mountain sides. Patches of snow high on the Prussian mountains and the glaciers suddenly shone brighter than ever before in the last three days (since I landed in Longyearbyen), the startling white insisted that I put my wellies and double coats on and go out to experience the light first hand.
How come outside at 11pm feels spooky even when the sun is shining so brightly? Don’t spooks come from low light, shadows and extensive ill-clarity?
Spooks seem to capture me, perhaps because the landscape has fewer people in it (although several wanderers looked to be joining me in amazement of the bright night light), perhaps because my mind is ready for rest…
This period of work is thrilling and each moment my engagement with this amazing Arctic landscape is building.
Today I realised that I am falling in love with this magical place. The light, the space the atmosphere, the constant feelings of awe in reaction to existing on a platform where humans, Arctic creatures and this amazing Arctic environment are equal and all in respect of each other; it is completely wonderful.
My mind is blown, my body is blowing, my spirit is flying in this miraculously cleansing, simple and magnificent bit of the world.
The magnificence comes from the simplicity and the simplicity is more complicated than I will ever understand, than humans are capable of understanding. The mystery is the magic and the magic is living in every bit of everything that I see and sense and touch.
Everything that I see and sense and touch is nothing and it is everything and that is what I am too.
Tuesday was very windy, I could hardly hear normal sounds as I ran west along the river towards the Huskie ranch and the biggest glacier nearby.
I confirmed by suspicions about spooks cloaking my being when I am alone, in the 10am morning light I ran along without anybody else in sight and felt on edge. Perhaps it is also a case of being tired (a broken sleep with fewer hours than I needed actually lying down to rest) and perhaps due to natural light being constant, the normal twilight mysticism which comes from being outside at low light and which can feel eerie, is dispersed over 24 hours.
Walking in the wind, exploring with the big Canon, East out towards Isafjorden, lunch by the harbour and drawing on a rock until my back with the wind on it had had enough and my toes were numb. A day of interspersing capturing the landscape with trips indoors to thaw out- the cold wind makes a big difference to the hospitality of the Arctic, especially when tired.
Clearer views of the Southern Glaciers as I made my way to the Church for Norwegian communion which I had planned to go and observe. I was welcomed as an inquisitive artist and I sat/ stood on mass/ listened, wrote and drew. As a non Christian who can be opposed to the strength of the Biblical fables, listening to a Norwegian service was perfect as most of what the minister spoke was just sounds/ words without meaning to me! The organ music was beautiful and the sense of welcome and warmth was appreciated, especially by the minister’s wife who informed me about the history of the church in relation to WW2. At that time the first church was burnt and everyone in Longyearbyen (except Longyear, the director of the mine) was evacuated on ships to Scotland. In 1957 the new church was built and it serves as a Christian base for the whole of the archipelago- the minister goes in a helicopter to do outside services in more remote places where they do not have churches but have erected crucifixes and alters in the landscape.
In a painting depicting a biblical scene, behind the glacier (painting effect) encased alter, I saw the ‘-Light+Shadow’(painting by Georgia Rose Murray, post 2015 residency to Iceland), boat reversed! The ‘-Light+Shadow’ painting was born from experiencing a time of 24 darkness and now I am experiencing the opposite amount of light in the Arctic. Perhaps this significant symbol was why I knew I needed to go to Church tonight.
Home for supper and bed just after 10pm to replenish my tired mind and body.
Wednesday: a cloudless sky- warm and so bright, the fjord bluer than I have ever seen- blue sky/ blue fjord- beauty!
I met Maria and Jacob from Prague and Tyler from Kansas USA and Jacob, Tyler and I drove East out of Longyearbyen winding up the gravel track road as far as we could go, up to the snow line! We began hiking over large limestone rocks, up a steep mountain until we reached the squidgy permafrost top layer which covers the large summit space. Beyond the permafrost zone was the reason we had climbed up- FOXFONNA GLACIER- WOW!
Today was my first experience of a glacier and it was so magical- a dazzling mass of ice with a fresh layer of snow, tiny tributaries now frozen making tiny winding tracks all over the surface; wonderful to feel snow crunching beneath my feet- it was like walking on a sea of clouds. The views of the surround snow-capped Prussian and limestone/ black coal mountains were astounding- a whole army of peaks rising up to join the sky and the tiny fjord below, snaking out towards the sea- bright turquoise in the gorgeous clear summer light. Blue sky, blue fjord.
As we ascended and approached the glacier we felt noticeably colder, the wind blew the icy temperature off the surface of the giant frozen mass and into the air- it was magical.
9pm bright sunshine on the fjord, E/N (BEI), an expedition to the bird hut decking by the fjords edge to make a large material painting. Pigments and gouache mixed in pots, a jar of ink and lots of big brushes, evening painting in the warm light; what a dream. A friendly welcome from the bird hut owner who was painting the exterior “Yes, please go inside to paint if it is cold, it is always open until October and if you like we will keep it open longer/ later in the year for you.” Amazing free safe warm Arctic hospitality.
A broken sleep again then rest from post min-nuit until 7am.
A warm sunny run and breakfast outside with bare arms- ideas about making coal/ coke into pigment. Discussions with a National Geographic Polish Botanist about the odd and inexpiable circumstances of the Christmas avalanche of 2015 which caused devastation and the death of two people in Longyearbyen. Inside the base to send emails to loved ones with a photograph of Foxfonna Glacier:
“This interconnected multi communication platforms is interesting- I guess your blank email below means the words come separately in Skype- I like your words about the structure of plants which were in response to my words about this Arctic simplicity.
The science I am learning all the time is so interesting, so guided by facts and limited in a way that painting could never be- great to be paralleling them both for comparison.
Thanks for your expanded description of your self thoughts…I’m unsure really what I was thinking, except that I am having rich dreams which come with having space and time alone and different things seems to happen each night which give me topics for musing on consciously throughout each day. I’d had some great thoughts about us and where we are and then I guess to counteract them, my brain flipped to propose a down which was ‘what if Kyle doesn’t want our existence to move forward together’. Even though realistically I suspect that I wouldn’t be able to feel how I do about you, if you didn’t feel something similar about me- I feel that what we have exists because it is simultaneously happening between two beings… Maybe, maybe not, who knows right now what is real and what is not – things seem to be getting progressively more abstract after one week away! I think i’m quite tired and could do with more rest overall but don’t seem to be able to get it- everything is so WONDERFUL AND MAGICAL-I love the north BEI, it feels so right for me to be here- like another home. I am thinking about the EGO and wandering about stripping it away further, I want to exist as a piece of nothing and everything and nothing else. It is another thing which is simple but also is incredibly complicated- last night I planted a rose in my dreams – with handfuls of its own rose petals scattered around the bottom of the plant and then the roots got tangled up and it became messy… Anyway my thoughts are definitely much more abstract and less able to be linear than several days ago… All interesting- falling into an abyss on top of the world and pretty damn happy about that. So anyway will detach from your musings about your self and hope your time and space makes some peaceful notions appear! And you can detach from my squangle in to Northpole nothingness and maybe afterwards when we are both in Scotland together again, we can meet in the middle and tell each other our adventure stories. Sharing with you is great and makes sense.
Lushushly sunny this morning, I just ate breakfast outside in my vest.
Being on top of the Svalbard world on the glacier yesterday was COLD! The ice had an icy aura rising up from it’s surface, as we approached it was like walking into a fridge- so unknown and amazing!
By the way- on Saturday I am going north and will be without internet/ phone until the 21st so I was going to suggest a skype chat, maybe on Friday if we decided we wanted to speak before a week without words but I understand if you want to be submerged fully in cousin fun. I would be up for a chat if you wana and I am happy about not chatting if you are busy so either is cool, just let me know what you decide.
Love GRM Xx” 
“Dear Mum and Dad and Ed,
Yesterday I made friends with two scientists who invited me to visit a glacier. Here is what I wrote afterwards, in the evening:
Tyler from Kansas USA and Jacob from Prague and I drove East out of Longyearbyen winding up the gravel track road as far as we could go, up to the snow line! We began hiking over large limestone rocks, up a steep mountain until we reached the squidgy permafrost top layer which covers the large summit space. Beyond the permafrost zone was the reason we had climbed up- FOXFONNA GLACIER- WOW!
Today was my first experience of a glacier and it was so magical- a dazzling mass of ice with a fresh layer of snow, tiny tributaries now frozen making intricate, winding tracks all over the surface, wonderful to feel snow crunching beneath my feet- it was like walking on a sea of clouds. The views of the surrounding snow-capped Prussian and limestone/ black coal mountains were astounding- a whole army of peaks rising up to join the sky and the tiny fjord below, snaking out towards the sea- bright turquoise in the gorgeous clear summer light. Blue sky, blue fjord. As we ascended and approached the glacier we felt much colder, the wind blew the icy temperature off the surface of the giant frozen mass and into the air- it was magical.
Going out to paint now. Hope you’re all well and are having nice summer weather to enjoy the garden. (Last night I dremt that I was re-potting a rose and using handfuls of petals instead of soil…then the roots got tangled and it all got a bit odd!)
Love you all
p.s. On Saturday I travel up to Petuniabukta on a boat and will not have telephone or internet for 8 days (the station has a satellite phone up there for communicating with the base in Longyearbyen if necessary and there are lots of flare guns and rifles for safety.) Apparently there is a mother bear with two cubs roaming nearby so I am very excited about seeing them and hopefully some whales too!
p.p.s. It’s amazing to be up in this North- it feels like a home which always exists deeply within me is at peace.”
Outside to paint, explore, be in the light and draw. 12pm- much cooler now, a cold Easterly wind blew me west towards the mountain road which leads up to Foxfonna. I ascended the small hill behind the Huskie ranch in search of some shelter for painting/ drawing but an hours wandering up and down the rocky terrain found no suitable environment to settle and allow time for looking absorbing and expressing.
I climbed down to another gulley flowing with mountain melt down to the fjord. Around the 360 degree mountain views surrounding Longyearbyen, big and small tributaries streak from the tips of peaks down to the depths of the valleys like delicate intertwining snakes.
The sun was out so I decided to find a hut to lean against in shelter from the wind and in view of the life enhancing rays. Unsure about whether I was inside or outside of the Polar Bear safety zone I sat tentatively, constantly aware of the need to check my surroundings regularly- an interesting counterpart to making observational drawings/ paintings- as soon as I become aware that I have transcended into the blissful world of complete absorption with my subject, I rise out of it in panic, imagining that a Polar Bear has quietly approached and is now actually only 1 or 2 meters away, about to eat me.
I continued on my journey in to town and up the valley towards the southern triplet of glaciers, stopping in sunny sheltered places to paint and draw. The wind was quite extreme and finding shelter to protect my painter being and the painting was essential. Another interesting day without a time piece. Having been here for one week now my knowledge of where the sun is at different times is fairly accurate, however there is a period from about 5pm until 7pm when I cannot be specific. This is due to four out of the seven days being foggy and hence the position of the sun being unclear.
Back to the research base for more work, dinner, friendly chats with the German Mosquito scientists who have just returned from Petuniabukta. Exciting stories of Petunia and then dreams of 100 Beluga Whales!
Friday 12/08/16: Nightime thoughts about what my lost paintbrush symbolises. Daily meditations on striving to shed the ego until there is nothing left and slowly clarifying (due to the simplicity and oneness of this arctic experience- building in potency daily,) notions of ‘everything is nothing, nothing is everything’. In a semi-conscious state I wrote that paint brushes are actually ‘fishing brushes’; when the tip touches the surface the watery subconscious opens and fishes are revealed- the act of painting catches the magic- the fishes don’t come until the line has been cast (message= don’t theorise- do make!)
A run along the shore to find my paintbrush- alas still it remains floating in the abyss of nothingness/ everything. A collection of coal, a brilliantly skimmed stone- calm, still water, very smooth thoroughly washed flat ovals. I carried a bundle of charred wood back, ready now to dedicate time to creating my own arctic pigment. I want to take eco-friendly substances up to Petunia to avoid unnecessary pollution as I paint outside. I used tools and buckets from the container to crush and sieve and separate the ash and then mixed it with water-based gaze medium and water and mixed it more and it became paint. Success- 78 DEGREES NORTH ARCTIC ASH PIGMENT- I am set for 8 days in the north. I will make some other (chemical based) colours later, incase colour seems essential and in which case I will dispose of waste thoughtfully.
Colours now created, I ventured out to the UNIS café first to eat lunch and try to diminish the shakes- I didn’t realise how much I needed food… Reading ‘the unofficial Longyearbyen newspaper’ and drawing the view up to the southern Glaciers through the window.
Then a venture in the rain to the bird watching hut. Spilt water in rucksac, everything soaked, really lacking in energy, good to spend a couple of hours drawing and using the bird watching telescope. Chilly in the damn air, sore lungs, aware that I need to take it easy and rest to look after my whole being. Across the fjord there is one big house which is invisible through normal eyes! And the tall ship on the horizon to the west looked amazing up close. Low fog over the northern mountains across Adventfjorden and up Advental Delta, the wetlands winding up towards the foot of the mountains surrounding Foxfonna. Annually the place is unusually low in ice for the Arctic tundra, so it is a special place to keep records of birdlife.
Saturday: Sun and blue sky on waking, wind and bright rays, an adrenaline-fuelled fast run to the PO- cards to Ed and Mum and Dad. Packing and then a final warm shower- Breakfast outside, chill, wired// clouds now forming- 12pm- as I prepare to venture North- excited, nervous, a whirl, prepared with all I could need and don’t really need anything… Nothing is everything, Everything is nothing. OHM GRM. OVER and OUT.
Recollections, reflections and feelings were scribed by hand from Saturday the 13th of August evening until my return to civilisation (Longyearbyen town), late on Sunday the 21st of August. Despite then having the ability to type again, I continued to write my thoughts and notes by hand in sketchbooks. In time I may choose to add those notes and pages to this post, by scanning them in and placing them here as a record of my journey whilst living in Petuniabukta/ upon my return to Longyearbyen.
It is the morning of the 24th of August and I am preparing to fly back to Scotland. Now I will depart for breakfast and attaching my reindeer antlers onto my suitcase- wrapping them as securely as possible with a thick role of cellotape!
Haha the Reindeer antlers were not opened with welcome arms by the check in man- he put them on the belt but seemed dubious about whether my luggage will make the three legged journey and be waiting for me when I arrive in Edinburgh- apparently it may go back to the Arctic source if the shape is thought to be too troublesome (it is large and pointy)!
Amazing flight from Longyearbyen to Oslo- thrilling views of the snowy Svalbard landscape and layers of cloud with a flawless sky blue abyss above. Clear thoughts about my artists existence now and what my thoughts are in these onwards moments. A beautiful dream which was a culmination of my experiences and all of the facts that I have learned whilst in the Arctic. The mass of fluffy white clouds opened up to reveal a bright ‘Old Red’ Alva flowing with glistening tributaries; a space of Arctic Earth flowing from a low glacial hole!
Onwards to Edinburgh now…

Tuesday 6th of September:

13 days since I departed from Longyearbyen and flew south over the most beautiful Arctic archipelago, Svalbard. Thousands of snow-capped prussian blue peaks pushing up and out of an icy sea, amongst ancient slowly shifting glaciers and fresh fast moving clouds. So many forms of water constantly surrounding and comprising the Earth, the universe, 80% of each human and some of all creatures.

22 days since I departed from Longyearbyen and flew south to Scotland; to late summer warmth, to early dusky evenings, to friends, to exist again in a city realm. Hurled down from the sky in to a landscape hectic with vehicles, people, fumes, overwhelming options, beautifully starry and depressingly dark night-time skies and a wonderful studio which I stripped bare and painted white- a blank canvas ready to support expressions of my Arctic experiences. It’s felt hard and sad to be separate from the incredible Arctic space, the thrilling landscape and the majestic 24 hour sunlight. Every day those Northern surroundings provided natural nourishment which over time now feels to be leaking out of me. Every day I long to return to that simple existence which provided the sacred space for me to operate as a landscape painter; mixing watercolour and homemade ‘78 degree ash paint’, drawing in sketchbooks, exploring in all directions, all hours of the day, eating when hungry and sleeping when tired were the main activities of each day. Being an artist in Scotland now presents a busy situation in which I am also a friend, daughter, sister, girlfriend, Wasps studio companion, Painting Lecturer; lots of lovely, time consuming relationships which can uplift, inspire and drain all at the same time. That Arctic focus was a special period of focussed living, as it was when I made research in the Icelandic winter for one month in 2015. I endeavour to create these residency opportunities whenever I have the chance/ feel the need.