Category Archives: Stuff I Saw

Hattarvik Church

Today, along with the other 18 people participating in the Outer Island English Retreat here on Fugloy, I walked over to more-or-less the other side of the island, to the village of Hattarvik.  The road between Kirkja and Hattarvik winds up, up, up, and then over a ridge and then down, down, down again.  The elevation change means increasing amounts of fog and a constant stream of epic views.





And, of course, sheep.


Despite the scenery and beauty and all, I spent a large part of the walk wondering what I am doing here.  When I am in my right mind, I am pretty sure that I am just soaking everything in, and making a few drawings, and eventually this will all turn into “real” art.  Sometimes, though, it feels like I am just wondering around on some islands, hiding out from reality.  Then, in a little village on a little island pretty much on the edge of the world, I walk into a church and see the most unexpected sight:

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This might be the most contemporary, post-modern, delightfully abstract take on a church altarpiece I have ever come across.  And it is not in some large North American or European city, but in the middle of nowhere.  And on top of that, the images are etchings, printed and mounted on boards.IMG_20130716_102319

Somehow, the sight of these 14 pieces reassured me that I will make more work, even though it probably won’t really happen until I get back to New Grounds.


Journey to Fugloy

Yesterday (Sunday), I traveled to the northernmost Faroe Island, Fugloy, by car and by Ferry.

For the car part, I saw many things, but the main was rain, so there are not many pictures.  However, there was a beach:


This is actually kind of a big deal, as most of the Faroese coastline consists of precipitous cliffs.  Beaches are kind of rare.  This particular beach is in the town of Gøta.  Later this week, it will be the location of the G! Festival.  Set-up for this had already begun on Sunday.


There were also tunnels.  One of which was long and only wide enough for one car.  We were traveling in the right-of-way direction.  On-coming cars had to pull out into one of 18 niches.  The on-coming cars tended to pull out at the last minute.  It was quite exciting.


I also saw a giant fishing hook, at the roundabout in the town of Klaksvik.


Apparently this hook was somewhat controversial, in that some felt it was not really art.  I disagree.  The description of the controversy reminded me of Albuquerque’s Chevy on a Stick.

Shortly after Klaksvik, the ferry portion of the voyage began, aboard the Pitan.


In describing the voyage, words fail me.  I am just going to post a few pictures and leave it at that.  Tomorrow I hope to have some drawings to put up.  Failing that, there will at least be a few photos of me un-gracefully rappelling down a cliff face.

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An important note:  The ferry didn’t really stop at the dock at the village of Kirkja, on Fugloy.  It just kind of moved close to the dock and we had to jump off.  The it sailed away.


And we headed up the stairs to Kirkja.


Kirkja, as seen from the ferry.

Kirkja, as seen from the ferry.  (the dock is that gray bit on lower right)


Several days ago, back when the sun was last shining (Tuesday, I think?), I took the 20 minute ferry wide out of Torshavn Harbor and across the fjord to the island of Nolsoy.  (In the picture below, that’s Nolsoy off in the far distance).


I suppose I assumed that the scenery and the epic high-latitude location would be what most inspired me here.  It turns out what is most getting my creative juices flowing is…the architecture.


I’ve been drawing these little houses over the years,


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and here they just dot the landscape, uninterrupted by very little in the way of other sorts of structures (they have houses like these in New England, but lots of other buildings as well).

Aside from the little town of Nolsoy hugging the contours of the island,

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the other highlight of the day was getting to the top of the island.

The top of Nolsoy, seen from the bottom.

The top of Nolsoy, seen from the bottom.

It took about two hours of walking, and I often wasn’t sure that I was actually following the trail.

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Eventually I made it to the top, where I had to pause to marvel at being here (thanks everyone!) and then at the 360 degree view.

Looking East, across the Norwegian Sea

Looking East, across the Norwegian Sea







West, back towards Streymoy and Torshavn

West, back towards Streymoy and Torshavn



North, towards Eysturoy

North, towards Eysturoy



Then, I began the trek back down.

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Hansastova and Grass Roofs

Hansastova is the art building here at the Føroya Fólkaháskúli (Faroese People’s High School), where my residency is based.  The building was originally the home of a gentleman named Hans, who donated it to the school.  Thus the name (tova is Faroese for house/home/residence).


Hansastova comes with its own rabbit.


More importantly, Hansastova is where I have a studio during my visit.


Here is the view out two of the four studio windows:


And the view out some of the windows in the smaller studios upstairs:

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By the way, have I mentioned that many of the buildings in Torshavn (and across the Faroes) have “live” roofs?  You can see one in the photo above.  That’s my neighbor’s house, Haraldstova.


Here are some more grass roofs around Torshavn.

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Obviously, something will come of this.


I am just not sure what yet.


Night-time Just Isn’t What it Used to Be

I went out for a pre-bedtime walk.  The pictures below are all from that walk, which went from about 9:30 pm to 11:00 pm.  This is pretty much about as dark as it gets here at this time of year.

I am setting this to post at about 11:00 pm Albuquerque time, for comparison of relative amounts of daylight.





This clock is showing the correct time when I took the picture, and, yes, it is Post-Meridian.

Out my living room window at 11:15 pm, after return from walk


Over the Mountain

I rode the bus to Kirkjubøur, but the trip back was on foot.  The hike lasted a little more than two hours, over the top of the ridge that lies between Kirkjubøur and Torshavn.  In New Mexico or Colorado this would probably qualify as a mesa, but it seems odd to call it that when it rises up out of the ocean.


Looking up as the hike begins.


The island in the distance is Hestur, or “Horse Island”



The small bit of land at top of picture used to be part of a promontory, but it all got washed away some two centuries ago.


Looking back down on the increasingly smaller former promontory.


Track used by shepherds


Most of the rock here is gray, but occasionally some red bits appear.

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Close to the top!


One of the last few glimpses back down/over to Hestur.


The top of the “mesa” is a bit like the moon at times.



Heading towards the other side, across the top.


The reward after a long climb.


Running water all over the place! Such a relief after living in the desert.


A cairn in the middle of the mesa.


Mr. Joel Cole, hiking guide (and coordinator of the Arctis Exchange). As we approached the cairn, it looked like someone had climbed it. It turned out no one was there, so he put himself there.


In the distance, the King’s Cairns, where observers used to watch for the arrival of the Norwegian King.


Beginning to head down the other side.




Continuing the descent to Torshavn, while fog/clouds roll in.


Another “ship”


While we were returning from Kirkjubøur, the sloop regatta was sailing back into Torshavn harbor.

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Today (well, yesterday, now) was the first official expedition of the Sub-Arctic Expedition.  In my first 24 hours here in Torshavn all I did was have a lovely rainy and foggy tour of island scenery between the airport and Torshavn, a really fabulous dinner prepared by my amazing hosts Joel and Kristina, a walk up to a whiskey at the Irish Pub, and twelve hours of sleeping.

Today’s expedition began with possibly the best cup of chai I have yet experienced.


Chai at Kaffi Husid

Thus stimulated, we set off on a bus ride to the other side of the island of Streymoy from Torshavn, to the village of Kirkjubøur.  Technically, we did not leave the “Greater Torshavn Metropolitan Area”, but most of the trip was through narrow rural lanes and rolling hills dotted with sheep.

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Kirkjubøur was more or less the capital of the Faroes in the Middle Ages.  The never-completed 13th century St. Magnus Cathedral stands as a monument to this time.


The black masonite around the top protects the structure from erosion, especially acid rain.  There is now an ongoing restoration in progress for the site, with several proposals for completing the structure.

For my New Mexico backers, the interior of the cathedral is reminiscent of the church at Quarai, only grayer, cooler, and damper.

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The actual, in-use, parish church of Kirkjubøur is also reminiscent of New Mexico, with thick walls (stone, instead of adobe), simple wood details, and even a cut away section of plaster exposing the underlying stone construction.

NM folks: there is a word (Spanish?) for this cut-away on straw bale or adobe construction.  Anyone recall what it is?

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For history buffs (and possibly S.C.A.-ers?) the other landmarks in Kirkjubøur are Roykstovan and Kirkjubøargarður.  Roykstovan has been occupied by the same Faroese family for 17 generations.  Supposedly the timber used to construct it drifted from Norway 7 centuries ago.


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Kirkjubøargarður is an 11th century viking longhouse.  It had that delightful smell of “ancient wooden musty historical site” that I remember from trips to Spingfield, Illinois, when I was a kid.  For Game of Thrones fans, the place evokes a sense of what life in the Iron Islands might be like.


Whale hunting tools (and one whale rib). The silver tool is the contemporary one used for killing a beached pilot whale.


Yes, those are vertebrae.


Before there were plastic floats and buoys, there were seal bladders (in upper center of picture)

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A doorway on which I would frequently hit my head if I lived here.

On to the hike back to Torshavn