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  • Janette Kerr Land of Ice

The act of drawing and a whole lot of snow

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

Bright sun and relative calm after a day of snow and wind (so what’s new in Skagaströnd?). Felt frustrated yesterday about not being able to get out. Walking to and fro from house to studio in such a strong wind was challenging at times.

Sarah collects her pinhole cameras and we scan them. I hold my breath – having organised everyone to try one if they don’t work I am going to feel bad, but they do - we are elated! The images are magical even after a mere 17 days exposure.

Sarah's solograph

Am out to draw, walking over the bridge to reach the beach, wary crossing the ice as Sarah went through it earlier this morning. The river has disappeared again, so it’s difficult to work out where it’s good and not so good to tread, but I risk it anyway.

Ominous dark clouds approach from northwest, probably bringing snow, but the sun is still here with me at the moment, despite the mountain disappearing. I draw; periodic gusts of wind cover the pages in a fine layer of frozen earth. And looking south the light is great.

Thinking about temporal drawing

Attempting to capture the trace of a gesture in a mark put down rapidly. From the first mark to the last… wind blowing paint, water freezing on surface, icy grit blown into wet, which then mixes with more drawn paint. When I’m drawing/painting (I’m not sure what you would call what I’m doing – a simultaneous mix of both) I am moving in and out of and through time; time just passes; not much time to reflect when I’m making them, marks piling up over each other, contradicting, obliterating, destroying, complimenting, reinforcing each other.

Section with ice and grit

The act of drawing; movements across the page infused with the movement of time - marks present becoming marks past, past marks overlaid by and fusing with marks present, anticipating future marks. I hope the drawings suggest movement and therefore time passing.

Everything is freezing and turning to mush as I paint, even with vodka in the water; it seems it’s fine in the jar but not when it hits the page. I seem to be stirring paint around on the paper; it looking a bit like cottage cheese. Frustration. Not a good moment and I’m freezing as well.

I make another quick one - maybe 5 minutes - and stop before I can ruin it. Lunch break.

Afternoon is open studio, so areas are being tidied, work pinned on walls, floor swept, although if anyone will come remains to be seen. But maybe that doesn’t matter, it’s interesting to put the work up and reflect. And restoring a bit of order to the chaos of my space is probably a good thing.

A quick dash outside to walk and draw before open studios begins; it is so bright and sunny I have to go out. I can’t quite believe how much snow has built up over the last few days.

Houses are starting to disappear under mounds.

This is one of the less covered ones and I like the cat in the window

I walk down some new roads I haven't ventured down before and sit in snow to draw, which, as usual, freezes. It is -2ºC, probably more like -6ºC with the wind chill factor, but if you can get into the sun with a bit of shelter, it feels quite balmy – Icelandic style. There's a dark sky with a white haze of snow on the horizon

A truck drives up and stops near where I'm sitting; not sure if they are checking whether I’m up to something nefarious, or if I’ve fallen down and am ill, or whether they are just out for a drive. I do look fairly weird bundled up against the cold with my glasses gone dark. I wave reassuringly and they reciprocate.

All landscape bears the marks of time and I know that’s a ridiculously obvious and probably stupid thing to say - but just in terms of the weather changes seem so fast here, or maybe it’s just that I’m really looking – the constant freezing unfreezing freezing, moving noisily, silent shifting, the slippery, softness, slushiness, thickness, thinness, hardness, transparent, translucent, opaque, shiny, rock under snow and ice, black brown earth thrown up mingling with white snow. But I don’t think that’s necessarily apparent from the drawings.

How long do I draw? Moments, minutes, half an hour, an hour? (maybe not here), until I’m so cold I have to stop, until everything starts to turn to mush? My drawings also hold memories or maybe I should say recollections (I think there’s a difference). Sometimes I can remember what I was thinking about (if anything) while I made them; can remember what I was seeing (not that that it’s always obvious to someone else looking at the drawing).

Open studio seems successful – I meet the mayor - female and without a chain (I tell her she should have one). Meet the librarian who I need to see about historical photographs of Skagaströnd fishermen, so that’s a useful contact, chat to various locals about what I’ve been doing, and eat a lot of cheese, crackers, more coffee and cookies.

Outside the evening sky is turning apricot pink, darkening by the minute, and we dash out to climb over mounds of snow to watch it go down over the sea.

Looking back at the studio - there's a whole lot of snow..

Then four of us hit the hot tube. There is nothing quite like sitting in a hot tube in the open air at night, steam rising, -2ºC probably -4ºC chill wind factor above the water, a newish moon overhead and a few stars showing (I will get a picture before I leave). Walking back I feel toasty and snug in my jacket, despite the wind and the snow hitting my face. The only thing left to do before I go back to my room is to eat a vegan burger and chips at the service station. This is the third one I’ve had since I arrived here and I’m feeling guilty for eating junk food, but sometimes needs must.

Wind is gusting loud tonight.

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