The land of the Sami, called Sápmi in their own language, spans Arctic Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia. The Sami are one of the world’s indigenous people with their own language, culture and customs. There is a belief that all significant natural objects possess a soul and are aware of their surroundings. Sanna fell behind the biological station is a sacred place and  I wondered about my photographs and what the trees might have to say about my intrusion into their environment.

the weather changes and we spend some time inside...


We visited the tri border point between Sweden, Norway and Finland yesterday. Passports not required.


The mean tree age in the birch forest above Kilpisjärvi is 54, the oldest tree is 96. 'Relatively old individuals predominated the population'. Stand dynamics of mountain birch, betula pubescens ssp.czerepanovii (Orova) Hämet-Ahti, in NW Finnish Lapland

The last twig of the last tree before the tundra

The last birch before the tundra

Fishing in Saanajärvi

Mountain birch

The landscape around Kilpisjärvi is dominated by “Fjells” (mountains or high plateaus above the tree line) extending into the Scandinavian mountain range, e.g. Fjell Saana (1029  m a.s.l.) and Pikku-Malla (738 m a.s.l.). The research station lies 100 km north of continuous coniferous forest and belongs to the sub-alpine birch forest zone, with mountain birch being the dominant plant species. The area is dominated by a wide range of ecosystems from mountain birch forest at low altitude (480-600 m) to alpine tundra (above 600 m).

There is still over a metre of snow but it's beginning to melt and the effect of the weight of the heavy snowfall is clearly visible.

a few days late

Finally arrived for my residency at University of Helsinki Kilpisjärvi biological station with friend, ceramacist and collaborator for the next few days, Lou Gilbert Scott. We're here as part of the Ars Bioarctica residency in the north west part of Finnish lapland.  The research station is on the edge of the frozen lake (the ice is still a metre thick and won't melt until June) in the mountain birch tree line with the alpine tundra are above us.

The road to Kilpisjärvi

We're travelling 300km North of the Arctic Circle by bus. Through the 8 hours it takes us , a change in the vegetation is clearly visible - the Norwegian spruce trees gradually disappeared, followed by the Scots pine and finally the mountain birch.

Rovaneimi - half way to Kilpisjarvi

Rovaneimi, Lapland and official residence of Santa Claus, even in April and the giant heaps of snow grey and melting divulging their hidden treasure.

Lemmus lemmus

During population peaks, Norway lemmings exhibit large scale dispersal. While many other rodents experience population peaks, Norway lemmings are the only species that will embark on long distance migrations. Their migrations have become famous through legends and stories. One common misconception is that lemmings set out on these migrations with the intent to drown themselves in the sea. Although mass drowning of lemmings do occur on these migrations (it is the number one cause of death on the journey), lemmings are not suicidal.


``Metric truths are measures, human conceptions, stripped bare by reason,''``Our bodies require a positive relation with the natural world, and measuring the world with and through our bodies is essential to civilized human existence.'' Robert Tavernor, Smoot's Ear.

Man is the measure of all things, of the existence of things that are, and the non existence of things that are not. Protagoras c490 - c420 BC


I'm going to be updating this blog while on a residency in Lapland. Right now it's all about trying to think about what equipment to take and trying to keep everything to just 2 bags.