I arrived in Longyearbyen on Tuesday. The town, which is situated on the Svalbard archipelago is surrounded by mountains. A dense blanket of clouds enveloped the landscape, shrouding the mountain peaks and arousing a deep feeling of being hidden from the rest of the world. The Arctic landscape is beautiful in a strange and unique sense , in a sense where beauty and bleakness appear to collude. Abandoned decrepit mining structures are scattered throughout the rugged mountainscape, piles of coal look as though they are pouring from fissures in the mountain facade, where patches of earth are stained by a vivid red sediment. One could almost contemplate that these mountains bear wounds.
Further cultural remains are strewn across the landscape, each a protected relic serving as a fragment of a story. A visual story that in Svalbard describes the tight coupling between human activities and the natural environment, and demonstrates how humans have influenced the landscape through the exploitation of resources throughout history. During a momentary process of decay the weathered structures appear to blend into their natural surrounds. It is incomprehensible to think that the mountains will eventually reclaim their land and the fragments of human history will be completely consumed by the landscape.
I am Irish visual artist . In August 2017 I travelled to Svalbard to participate in an artist residency located in the Arctic circle. This research blog is a diary of my experiences within an Arctic landscape. All photographic images on this blog are © www.racheldoolin.com. This residency was funded by the Arts Council of Ireland Travel and Training Award and the CIT Valery Gleeson Development Bursary.