Heriot Toun in summer

The Fixed and the Volatile

An installation created from an expedition to the Arctic Circle in October 2012.

The exhibition was given coverage on both national radio and television in iceland 2013.

An accompanying blog from the expedition can be viewed here.

Installation shots © Mhairi Law

Shown at:

2013 Verksmidjan, Hjalteri, Iceland. 

2014 Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, Hawick.  

2015 Recreated as a three-screen installation in Helmsdale icehouse, for Timepsan arts centre. 



The work was created from an Arctic Circle sailing expediton in which I was a participant in September/October 2012. The Arctic region was the coastline of Svalbard at 79/80 degrees latitude, the vessel a tall ship. As a group of international artists we explored many remote and extraordinary places.

The subsequent exhibition venue was a disused herring factory in the village of Hjalterie in northern Iceland was built in the 1937 to process herring meal and oil in the days of the herring boom. The factory closed in 1966 when the herring disappeared and is now run by an artists' collective who have retained the factory as it was in its working days.

The work was a response to the isolation and abandonment of communites in Svalbard, in particular the deserted Russian mining town of Pyramiden primarily. Although the sea connects, it can also isolate; whole communities existed without means of interacting with other settlements through governing bodies restricting movement, sailing vessels being in short supply and seaboards freezing over.

The works consisted of moving image, salt drawings and installation.

Presence is an installation consisting of moving image and a muslin tent; a symbol of fragility and abandonment of habitat. To accompany the film, singers Kirsty Law (Scotland) and Arna Guony Valsdottir (Iceland) were invited to interact with the work by giving a live performance on the opening night, moving through the main spaces of the venue and concluding the piece in same space as the film and tent .

Leaving Pyramiden, moving imagefilmed from the porthole of my cabin, is layered with the sound of architect Wes Milholen playing the Red October piano in the abandoned Kultur Huset in Pyramiden. (The film was reworked in 2019): view here

Abandoned, moving image, is filmed in the original coal mining structures in Longyearbyen using the natural sounds of the environment: view here

A film of the complete installation The Fixed and the Volatile installed at Verkmidjan, including Richard Ashrowan's work, can be view here

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