1608 Shetland

1608 Shetland

Friday, 21 February 2014

The Arctic Circle and beyond

Travelling up the Norwegian coast on the Hurtigruten
Day one Tuesday February 18th
I am on the Hurtigruten ship route, a twelve day round trip commencing in Bergen, travelling north up to cross the Arctic Circle from 60° to 71° north...  a place of extremes.
Bergen  60° 23’ 44”N 5°18’59”E  0°C
10pm A completely calm sea under a black starless sky. Small ripples travel across the surface of a black sea; reflected lights from the harbour and hill beyond - an orange glow of twinkling lights. The streets around the harbour seem deserted. Sound of the ship’s engine. Further scrutiny of the sky reveals a few stars; the lights of Bergen screen out most. I can see my breath in the cold air.
10.45pm Water froths steadily at the ship’s helm, ripples fanning across the harbour reach to the far shores. A cold wind is blowing, bright harbour lights recede, and a thin veil of mist is illuminated hanging in the air against the mountains behind Bergen. 
More stars show in the sky now, we pass under the suspension bridge, lights above us disappear and reappear as if by magic. The ship’s engine throbs gently as we slip out of the harbour and along the coast, to meet wide-open sea, accompanied by a large waning moon.

Setting out
Day 2 Wednesday February 19th
Sunrise 08:14 Moonrise 20:56 Sunset 17:25 Moonset 08:36

06:00–12:00 1° Light breeze, 3 m/s from east 
08.00 We are crossing the Stadhavet, an open stretch of sea. Land recedes.
10.30 Torvik 62° 34' 0"N, 7° 37' 0"E  
short 15 minute stop. Life on board seems pretty slow; fellow passengers can be found lapping up the warm rays of a much-missed sun. Docking sees a flurry of activity, camera clutched as we pull into Ålesund  62.4778°N, 6.1903°E at midday. Temperature has risen to . A three hours dock allows a wander through the streets of art nouveau buildings, a statue of a woman stands sorting fish overlooking the harbour. 

I score of a bottle of Pinot Noir at the Vin Monopoly.

15.00 Heading north from Ålesund, the sun behind us, the sea is still incredibly calm, light travelling softly across its surface. A dark dull greenish hue, gentle undulations cross its surface, no breaking waves to be seen, not even along the shoreline. Either side of the ship lie dark rocky cliff faces, the tops covered with a dusting of snow. Warm in the sun, the temperature is still 0° in the shade.
Leaving Alusend
Occasional announcements in Norwegian, German and English break the silence, the last one advertising a second showing of the Northern lights film. Fine; it means that the decks are devoid of people and I am left to myself to draw. Recharging my Hurtigruten mug with hot-ish coffee I retire to the top deck veranda to watch the landscape slip by under a cloudless blue sky and the occasional flap of a passing seagull.
17.30 Molde  62.7564°N, 7.2386°E  3° Light air, 1 m/s from northeast. Scattered houses cluster at the foot of mountains. More snow-covered peaks emerge as we continue north. Despite the constant throb of the ship’s engine and a high-pitched ‘pinking’ sound of rope hitting metal it feels peaceful and unhurried. Scattered settlements become fewer as slopes from mountain to sea increase; snow creeps further down towards the sea.

16.45 The sun sinks. A dusting of snow over mountains makes valleys and jagged rocks stand out. Dark-light-dark-light. Watching the sea Its as though we are standing still while the water travels swiftly before us. We creep forward so slowly.
17.00. A lot colder now; the sky turns orange, a line of gold-flecked clouds touch the horizon. A few fellow passengers emerge, pose for a photograph or two, and retreat. Pink/pale orange sun touching mountain peaks; ahead lies a long range of snow-capped mountains, pink glowing.

19.40 Three blasts on the ship’s horn as we pass the southbound Hurtigrute MS Midnatsol, and then head out into the open sea of the Hustadvika.
22.10 Kristiansund 63.1103° N, 7.7278° E  1° A gentle breeze, 4 m/s from northeast. A late night docking, a dark town lies silently below me; little point in disembarking and the stop is a short one anyway. Later, when many of us have curled up in our bunks, a Northern Light sighting is announced; a flurry of activity as passengers donning coats and hats over nightwear, emerge excitedly into the night to stand in the dark and watch flickering lights on the horizon. A hint of green – or perhaps I imagine it. Back to the warmth of my bed. 

Day 3 Thursday 20th February
Sunrise 08:01 Sunset 17:04 Moonrise 20:39 Moonset 08:18  06:00–12:00 Light air, 2 m/s from south-southwest  -5°
Trondeim 63.4297°N, 10.3933°E When we awake we've already docked. I leave the ship to meet Harold Krogstad who takes me to meet Stephen Barstow, Senior Ocean Wave Climatologist for Fugro Oceanor, and we spend an enjoyable morning talking waves and being shown round a large workshop full of partly assembled large yellow buoys being equipped with the latest tracking and monitoring equipment.
I peer into the mass of wires and electronic circuits; these state-of-the-art technological artefacts will find their way into seas across the globe, and float or sit on the ocean floor, relaying data, issuing warnings of an impending tsunami or storm bringing rogue waves. One is destined for Japanese waters, another for India.

12:00–18:00 Moderate breeze, 7 m/s from southeast  -1°
Back on ship the wind increases and I spend the afternoon huddled on deck drawing the dramatic coastline, watching passengers staggering past in the wind.
18.15 We cross Folda, an open stretch of sea, the ship rocking in the swell, small waves whipping across the surface.
18:00–00:00 Moderate breeze, 7 m/s from east-southeast -2° 
A short stop in Rørvik. Later in the evening while coffee is in full swing there is another Northern Lights sighting and we all bundle out to be met by the wind and stare into the night. There is very little to see on this occasion. Tomorrow we cross the Arctic Circle

Day 4 Friday 21st February
Sunrise 08:00 Sunset 16:33 Moonrise 21:52 Moonset 08:01
7.15am: We crossed the Arctic Circle 66° 33' 39"N. Throwing clothes on over my pyjamas as the announcement came over the ships tannoy, and grabbing camera and sketchbook, I rush outside. A few passengers join me. Black volcanic rock against white ragged peaks - Arctic Mountains - mist rising and falling. The horn sounds three times as we pass the southbound ferry Hurtigrute MS Nordnorge, figures waving - I return their greeting. It feels as though we are entering strange unknown territory; I have never seen so many mountain peaks. I photograph and draw frantically throughout the day until light fades – I can’t get enough if it – can’t get it down on the paper fast enough.  
09.00 Ørnes
12.30 Bodø -4° Fresh breeze, 10 m/s from east
Lofoton Islands 19.00 Stamsund
21.00 Svolvær, Lofoton Islands , a small town straggling along the shoreline against an improbable backdrop of vast mountains. 
 - 4° Strong breeze, 12 m/s from southeast 
Midnight 68.346944N 14.998056E. We enter the 26km long narrow strait of Raftsundet. It is a strange experience to stand at the prow of the ship in total blackout, but know that we are moving forwards into a wall of darkness. Snow billows around me as I strain to see into the night. Vague dark shapes of snow-covered mountains close in on us as we travel through the Vest and Ofot Fjords. I can just make out granite volcanic walls and ravines, but it is more the sense of them that I feel. The engines fall silent, the ship seems to hover in the dark space while snow flakes swirls silently around me. 
As we travel on through the night a stronger swell rocks us to sleep.

To be continued - images - photographs and sketch book drawings to to be added......

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Summer in Shetland

Skerries ferry

More to come, but haven't had time to post... soon soon soon...

Friday, 5 July 2013

New Paintings

Have been working on these for a while - the lower one is about 6' wide

The question is - are they finished????

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Beaux Arts Gallery

Summer Show
Beaux Arts Gallery
12-13 York Street
Bath BA1 1NG
tel 01225 464850

New Paintings and Sculptures
24 June to 31 August

New work by Stewart Edmondson, Nathan Ford, Atsuko Fujii, 
Anna Gillespie, Sarah Gillespie, Janette Kerr, Alan MacDonald, 
Anthony Scott, Helen Simmonds, Pieter Vanden Daele, Pippa Young. 

Private View - 
Saturday 22 June 6-9 pm

Janette Kerr - North Sound, Unst  Oil on Canvas 57x80cm
I will be there on Saturday from 6pm - 7pm, so hope to see some of you there.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Bergen Exhibition

Currently in Bergen and have just set up my show at the coastal museum  -  Kystmuseet i Oygarden. It opens tomorrow and will be on for about 2 months.
Maybe some of you will be able to visit.... Am showing some new drawings taken from some old 1930's photographs I discovered lurking in a shoe-box in Bergen Marine Research Institute while I was here last June. Also on show are meteorologically-inspired works, and prints of paintings and drawings. 

Janette Kerr har teke utgangspunkt i forteljingar frå havet. Utstillinga er ein del av prosjektet Ektreme Waves

Location of Kystmuseet i Øygarden
Thank you to Johannes Guddal for supporting me, and to Bjorg Christophersen (Director of  Kystmuseet i Oygarden) for organising and offering me the opportunity of showing my work in Bergen. My thanks to Anne Karin Magnusson for putting me up (again!).

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Sandness Fishing Station

Monday, 12th November 2012

WEATHER OUTLOOK: Becoming wet and windy. Tonight: Some rain. Lighter winds.

Sandness Fishing Station
Latitude/Longitude: 60.3042°N 1.6644°W
HU 187 578
Aerial view
I’ve been driving back and forth along Sandness coast trying to locate the site of the old Haaf fishing station. There are several beaches – some just sand - I reject these and finally settle on a stone-strewn beach with the remnants of an old pier and a few stone buildings. The light is starting to go and I need to make a decision or give up. Out to sea, the bay is well protected by the long flat grass-topped islands either side, the stone beach would be fine for drying fish, and it would be easy to pull the boats from the shore across the grey sand pebbled beach and onto the grass bank. No sign of noosts or fishing lodges; perhaps one of the old stone buildings might have been a fishing station.

Studying the landscape, roofless croft-house ruins are dotted along the headland. I wish I could read the landscape – pitted and worked, stones lie in heaps, some tall and solitary. A signpost shows coastal walks either way, left to the site of old water mills. There has been habitation here for a very long time. Beside the pier piles of large rocks lie dark with wet seaweed.

The journey here, along a narrow road, winding through empty brown moorland, makes the place seem remote, but there must be a reasonable sized population. I passed a shop and a school, a scattering of quite large houses - old and new - as well as the traditional ‘butt and bens’, and there’s the Anderson Mill, here since the 1890’s. Specialising in wool spun from native Shetland sheep, they must employ a local workforce to make the jumpers that are shipped to Japan and America.

Perhaps I feel the solitude of the place because it’s beginning to get dark as I walk onto the beach. There is a keen wind blowing. I seek shelter down amongst the larger boulders against a turf bank, and watch the sea.

Sketch, Oil on board
Low-lying outcrops of rocks in grey-green sea, waves surging behind, breaking white-washed; flashes of turquoise, sand-coloured as it tumbles onto the shore. The surface ruffles with wind gusts, shadows flow - dark then light. There are the usual watchful seals, two dipping under, rolling, surfacing. Not much bird life in evidence, an unseen snipe calling.

Sketch, Oil on board
Steel-grey sky, the rain comes and goes, returning more persistently. Twilight; straining to see; once again I can’t make out the colours I’m using anymore. But in some ways these are the best times for painting. Car headlights sweep past me, house lights at the far end of the bay. It’s cold. Time to pack up, time to go home. Tomorrow I leave to start the return journey to Somerset.  

Water sample and findings

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Long Ayre Fishing Station, Out Skerries

SATURDAY November 10th 

With kind permission of Anne Karin Magnussen, Met Inst, Norway
Bright with sunny intervals and occasional showers, most likely over Shetland. A fresh to strong F5-6 S’ly wind veering W’ly later. 

Sea State: Rough to very rough becoming moderate to rough from the west later, with a 3 to 5 metre S to SW’ly wind-swell turning NW’ly and easing 2 to 3 metres.

Long Ayre Fishing Station, Out Skerries
Latitude 60.4167N, Longitude .7667W
HU 693 72

Leaving my car at Vidlin harbour I lug my rucksack full of painting gear on board the tiny Out Skerries ferry and watch the cars being strapped to the deck. Unlike my last trip out here when I was told that we might not get back that night, the ferry journey is relatively calm, rougher as we leave land and head east to open sea. I watch the waves washing out to reach the far shores. Land receding, we loose sight of the mainland.

Arrival on Out Skerries is via the cliff fringed north shore, through an impossibly narrow gap in the cliffs, and we dock in Böd Voe harbour.

I’m met by a smiling Bertha Anderson, who gives me a big hug me and whisks us back to her house for tea, toast and gossip. Talking to one of the ferry workers I’ve learned that there are at least seven haaf fishing stations here and wonder whether I’m going to be able to get to any, since at least one is on the far east side and I don’t have time to get that far. However Bertha sorts me out and drives me to the airstrip. ‘Walk down the runway and through the gate at the end on your left” she instructs. I dutifully follow her directions and trot off along the rough gravel landing strip (no planes today), to find myself at one end of Long Ayre, a small sheltered bay on Bruray.

A remarkably clean smooth stone beach gently curving to my left. I walk its length, passing stone piles - the remains of other lodge sites that once lined the banks. At the far end lies a haaf fishing lodge, the roof long fallen in (I’m told it has been used as a hen house – clearly not that recently). 

The sound of the constant wind. Blue cloud-filled sky. Bright sunlight on green-fringed hills, a lighthouse perched on one, along with a ruin of a square shaped tower or perhaps a house, it’s difficult to tell from here.

On the beach, coils of slippery dark seaweed lie in heaps amongst bladder-wracked boulders, still wet from the receding tide. I find an old piece of circular metal amongst stone and weed, and trace the decorative worn surface – treasure. I watch a few cormorants hurry across the water, flying close to the surface. Above, the flap of an occasional gull.

Every so often the spray of large breaking waves appears between the two hills on the far side of the bay, beckoning; I would love to be over there, but conscious of time and purpose, I set my rucksack on the grass bank and start to paint rapidly  - four small boards worth - before it’s time to walk back along the airfield.

Oil paintings on board
The sea changes colour as wind pushes the clouds, ripples multiplying across its surface – dark blue-grey, then lighter with pale green patches, sun dancing yellow on sparkling sea. The hills behind are ranged with standing stones – meids for the fishing, or perhaps even older. The voe is tucked well inside the northeast mouth; open sea lying beyond the protective arms of the headlands – Outer Bloshin on one side, Inner Croagle on the other.

Met by Bertha, I'm bundled back into the car and off to her kitchen for leek and potato soup. Now warm - both inside and out - I’m ready for the ninety-minute ferry ride back.  

It’s getting dark as we leave the harbour, huge clouds mass on the horizon, an orange sky, the sun disappearing fast behind receding islands - more interesting light for drawing now.

Once we’re further out to sea there’s a bigger swell, waves fanning out behind, spindrift catching the wind.

The ferry dips; I make some fast drawings, cold spray hits my back as I steady myself against the railings clutching my sketchbook. 

Sketchbook drawings

I stare defiantly at a sign instructing all passengers to remain in the saloon. I’m the only one on deck, the few passengers either obediently inside, or within their tightly strapped-down vehicles.

Night now, gulls in our wake, lights of the mainland appear. The sea silky smooth as we enter the narrow fjord of Vidlin Voe and dock in a blaze of light. With a wave to the ferrymen I walk back to my car, still slightly swaying.

Water sample and findings

J Kerr, White on White 2009