2004 Expedition Blog - Day 11

Date:

Monday, 20 September 2004, 18:10 (CF2 time)

From:

Alex Hartley

Expedition:

2004 Expedition

Subject:
Excerpt from the journal of crew member Alex Hartley...
Attachments: 1 image
New Land Discovered!
Excerpt from the journal of crew member Alex Hartley...

New land rising from the Arctic waters In the early evening of the 19th day of September, year of our Lord two thousand and four, we passed through the fast flowing narrow sound of Heleysundet. This tight passage separates the main island of Spitsbergen from its smaller neighbour Barentsøya. According to the pattern established over the last several days, we continued scouring the coastline for our ever-elusive quarry.

Suddenly, on rounding the southern point of Bakanbukta, the cry went out...maps were checked, the compass consulted and a small expeditionary group was hastily assembled and subsequently dispatched in the support craft.

Our small vessel headed towards the glacial edge of Sonklarbreen still unsure that our days of searching could have been so finely rewarded. Our goal had been to find a new island that had been revealed by the retreating glaciers and to claim it for our own. The island towards which we now sped exceeded all expectations. Roughly an hundred paces long, fifty wide, and fully thirty feet high. The terrain was largely muddy moraine holding many varieties of rock with its frozen clutches. We came across the nests of eider ducks, and several purple sandpipers were seen quickly departing.

Our new island was surrounded by a beach on all sides, and could be circumnavigated on foot in roughly ten minutes. The geography of its interior was marvelously varied, with towering mountains (some higher than twenty feet). There were valleys and even a small frozen lake (a member of our group unkindly likened this to a pond, but little notice was taken of his comments).

We surveyed the island taking longitude and latitude readings for all features and extremities. A cairn was built and in the age old style, a claim note was placed inside a tin-can and this in turn was inserted into the cairn. The note stated in both English and Norwegian notice of our claim on the newly revealed land. Upon our return to the mainland our new island will be charted and I will submit it for inclusion in all subsequent maps. The land will be named and registered. The name has not yet been finalised, but I feel the most obvious Alex HartleyLand may cause some ill feelings amongst my fellow crew members.

Nothing has yet been ruled out; annexation, independence, tax haven, wild life sanctuary, short let holiday homes or time shares. Postcards will be printed and a major architectural competition will be launched. Engineers will be consulted as to how best to keep all the mud together and prevent any shrinkage of our island.

On the morning of the twentieth we traversed the glacial edge in the Noorderlicht coming within an arm's distance of the towering blue face. Then, after breakfast, we turned our backs on our newly discovered territory and set sail for points south. It was with a heavy heart and a tear in my eye that I watched it disappear. This land so newly revealed, land which has lain below the crushing weight of the ice for thousands of years, land on which no human had ever stood. This new land, so freshly released, was indeed our land, and part of me was left behind there.

Alex Hartley

Date:

Monday, 20 September 2004, 17:20 (CF2 time)

From:

Nick Edwards

Expedition:

2004 Expedition

Subject:
J#!!$F*!*!GTAPDANCINGC!!*$TALMIGHTYONABIKE!!!
Attachments: 1 image

J#!!$F*!*!GTAPDANCINGC!!*$TALMIGHTYONABIKE!!!

Is the only reasonable reaction to the overwhelming nature of this place. I develop tourettes me every time I go on deck.

Watercolour sketch of an arctic landscape in artist notebook Making art that can express the terror and beauty that wraps us and at times feels like it might suffocate. I'm running between filming and painting, at times manic in my desire to record as much as I can, not only as I will be leaving here soon, but because I think this place may leave us. I feel like an Edwardian traveler innocently creating images of far flung place, and when viewed through the dark lens of the 20th century we are pitifully aware of their loss. So I dance around on deck praying that I have enough time, stock, ink, paper, and energy to last the trip.

Every day presents another opportunity to fall into the spiral of sublime ecstasy, and I have no power to resist the gravitational pull of the light, emerging from my cabin and wondering what will be today's challenge.

Nick Edwards

Date:

Monday, 20 September 2004, 16:46 (CF2 time)

From:

David Buckland

Expedition:

2004 Expedition

Subject:
Daily blog post, Sunday 19 September 2004
Attachments: 3 images
Text projected on glacier ice - Blazing Ice, tangled love sheets Text projected on glacier ice - Burning Ice Text projected on glacier ice - The cold library of ice

Two days of intense activity and sublime experience. Surfing the Noorderlicht has been described by Colin (yesterday), suffice to say that I was pleased we were in this noble vessel and not in my own trimaran. I have never seen such turbulent waters of fast flowing currents, whirlpools that appear from nowhere and mutate in sinks that would trouble my boat. And a hand break turn is not an exaggeration as we slalomed sideways towards an island mid-stream; firing the engine at full power was an only solution to keep us out of these freezing waters where hypothermia sets in four minutes, our mast-head web cam showed the Noorderlicht surfing happily.

Alex's excitement was palpable as he identified a possible island for naming and claiming and I was honoured to be 'official photographer' of the landing. It is a very grand place with the makings of a great artwork. This place would not have existed had not the glacier retreated, yet more indication that our planet is changing due to global warming - but this time to the benefit of art and Alex and great general crew enthusiasm.

Dark invaded us before we could work on my projections on glacier fronts but we did identify a possible glacier and agreed to all assemble for a 5.00am (CF2 time) start as we have to film and photograph at the cusp of light where the projection would match the daylight on the glacier front. Picture this: we were about to project text through our projector mounted on the gunnels and close enough to a towering wall of ice that reached up to mast height - we figured that 20 feet would be a good distance, photograph the result and film the proceedings, all at -10ºC and on the 79th parallel north. I had constructed the 16 text/slogans, working closely with the writings of Gretel Ehrlich who has written a new book much of which is based on the 2003 expedition she did with us.

5.00am and still very dark - the light here plummets towards darkness at warp speed - the team assemble, 8 bold souls with an aptitude for madness. I am still wondering and in awe of Gert our captain who at times sailed so close to the ice wall we could almost touch it. Mercifully it was calm and the glacier relatively dormant, i.e. not calving.

The projections pierced the ice:'BURNING ICE', 'THE COLD LIBARY OF ICE', 'BLAZING ICE, TANGLED LOVE SHEETS', 'BLACK ABYSS' and 'A WIND AGE & WOLF AGE BEFORE THE WORLD IS WRECKED' were some of the sixteen texts projected. This was an idea I had before leaving London and had brought up with me the equipment needed to make it work.

To see the idea become reality and to such effect was truly exciting and very satisfying for us all, great 'field work' material to bring home to my studio to start to work into art pieces. The captain and first mate Maaike equally enthused and were both crazy enough and skilled enough to maneuver the boat to such precise demands. An early morning of cold bliss that ended with Anna's breakfast and more needed sleep. A personal thanks to Alex, Dan, son Sean, Albert on sound, Phil on camera and director David. Who ever said art was easy?

The final joy of the day for the whole crew was to sail the whole length of a 35 kilometer glacier front, this time at the more respectable distance of 100 metres.

David Buckland

2004 expedition route map