In 2020, I was awarded Amateur Photographer Magazine and MPB’s inaugural ‘Rising Star’ award. This provided a bursary, the support of both organisations, and mentoring from the photojournalist and curator Peter Dench to pursue a twelve month photography project on ‘change’ in the High Arctic, namely Svalbard and what I called the ‘Long Year Project’, a not so subtle pun on the main settlement of Longyearbyen.
Due to the Covid pandemic this project only got underway in November 2021.
It has led to a long term and continuing relationship with the Svalbard archipelago, its flora and fauna, history and culture, and most importantly its people. Here you can find reports ‘from the field’, which track the evolution of the project, from dog mushing expeditions, to snow mobile trips, a fascination with mining heritage and culture, including a performance from the Arctic Philharmonic in the last remaining mine, through to a slowly developing fascination with the life narratives of those people inhabiting the archipelago.
This latter fascination culminated in a dark season artist residency, at the Spitsbergen Artist Centre, during October-December 2022. Here I conducted interviews and created portraits, in a makeshift photography studio, with thirty people who were present in the community at that time. These were subsequently exhibited from June to August, under the title – ‘Svalbard People’ – becoming, in turn, the world’s northernmost photographic exhibition in 2023.
These portraits and a further ten that were undertaken during the period of the exhibition, are now being brought together as a book, which I hope to publish in 2024.
I very much welcome thoughts and comments on any of the ‘field reports’.