Part of a group of artists, I spent two months at Nes Artist Residency in Skagaströnd, Iceland from December 2015 to January 2016.
It was a unique experience in a beautiful, wild, surreal country. Living there in midwinter meant an otherworldly mix of darkness coupled with the intense colours of the Northern sky when the sun was up.
My project included pastel and watercolour landscapes done from life. The temperature outside was frequently below zero degrees celsius so the watercolour paints froze in my palette and created ice crystals on the paper. I also created horse portraits, took many landscape photos and completed a series of children's stories inspired by Icelandic culture and the children of the town.
Many thanks to Kerryn, Toti, Hallbjorn, Disa and Haffi.
A fantastic opportunity arose to join an expedition on an icebreaker ship sailing North to the pack ice of Svalbard, in the Arctic. We sailed for two weeks over the summer solstice, experiencing midnight sun and spotting polar bears, walruses and seals.
A beautiful wild place of contrasts; grey, dusty and barren on land with no trees, where abandoned railway tracks and mining equipment lie next to Svalbard reindeer and colourful houses, but where at sea turquoise icebergs float past black and white mountains and huge glaciers rear up.
It was remarkable getting up close to the animals in their natural wild habitats. I took my paper, watercolours and charcoal out on our zodiac boat excursions every day from the main ship. One day we got close to a polar bear lying on the shore eating from the carcass of a beluga whale, and then licking the blood off his paws. We got right up to seals lying on chunks of ice, basking in the sun. And we also got caught in the middle of a group of walruses who approached our boat with their sharp tusks.
One day whilst everyone was on deck of the main ship which was stationary in the pack ice, a mother polar bear and her two cubs came walking across the ice towards our ship. The little bears stood on their hind legs to catch our scent. The mother bear then led her cubs on, walking away into the horizon.
A series of photographs taken whilst I was artist in residence at Nes, Skagaströnd, Iceland, December 2015 - January 2016.