Though science might take front and centre stage quite often in Svalbard, art certainly plays some interesting roles up here. There are long-standing artists residency programmes (for both Longyearbyen and Ny Alesund) and expedition trips (like The Arctic Circle or Cape Farewell) specifically for artists and art-science collaborations, which have attracted many to these shores, searching for meaning, inspiration, difference, peace, ways to communicate climate change...other things I'm sure. I've found inspiration and ideas from talking with some of them myself. Now art has been ramped up a step in Longyearbyen...
Today's forecast was good and the clouds lifted, revealing just how light it gets around midday now. So, given it looks to be a pretty stormy day tomorrow I thought I would make the most of the still conditions, don some ski trousers, get toasty and go for a proper round-town trek.
One of the interesting things I came accross was this little hut. Made in August last year by artist Solveig Egeland (with help from volunteers) from waste gathered on the annual svalbard coast clean up. It has caused quite some controversy in town, given it received money from the Environment Protection Fund and the enticement to volunteers to get involved was to win a trip to Venice (!). Originally, it was due to be taken down again, but I'm really glad people stepped up at the last minute to take responsibility for maintaining it. This might be candidate for the best symbolic image of the PhD yet - so many questions of what is valuable, how it should be valued, what should be protected and how, who gets to decide and how to engage people in environmental issues are enmeshed in this amazing hut. Plus it embodies the Flowering Elbow ethos - making cool stuff with would-be waste!