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Tracey M Benson is a lover of travel, having a diverse background as an artist, writer and researcher. Working with online environments since 1994, Tracey's experience includes providing digital media, web and social media solutions to government, non-profit, private industry and tertiary sectors. Her focus is on sustainability behaviour change and the use of communications and emerging technologies to empower community and build culture.

Missing in Action

Dear readers, it has been some time since we have posted a blog.

Although we have been missing in action online we have still been having some adventures. For example, Tracey was in Norway for three months doing some creative research into her ancestry. Her project Waters of the Past has resulted in some wonderful collaborations and connections. The project was also presented in a number of exhibitions and symposium, such as Balance UnBalance 2017 and RIXC Open Fields 2017.

Tracey’s project was also featured in the Drammen newspaper. Please don’t ask for a translation 🙂

We had an amazing time in Norway, the highlight of this was our fjord journey up the west coast to Tromsø – more on that later 😉 Here is some teasers:

This year we don’t plan to go too far from home ground. We have lots of short trips planned and we look forward to sharing with you some of the great places we enjoy here in the Australian Alpine region – better known by Aussies as ‘the high country’.

We will publish a new article from us each month as well as feature some guest writers. Contact us if you would like to submit something for publication.

Ps – we are now also in Instagram – follow us at geokult_travel

An article about Tracey
An article about Tracey
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Vikings and Runes

Tracey’s latest blog about her residency at SIM in Iceland.

Tracey M Benson

The other day I went and had my portrait taken at Mink Viking Portrait Studio in downtown Reykjavik, owned by Gudmann. It was one of the few tourist activities I have indulged in while doing an artist residency with SIM – and one which was totally worthwhile.

While I was there I had a really interesting chat with the photographer, Hafsteinn, who is also an artist and has designed his own set of tarot cards.

The studio itself was full of very interesting objects, including lots esoteric books, references to shamanism and Viking paraphernalia. I was thought it was so interesting, I asked if I could come back and take some photos. Hafsteinn kindly agreed and so yesterday I returned to document the space. Check these out.

I brought along my runes and ‘staged’ them in the studio – they do look like they belong here 🙂

What I didn’t realise until…

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The Johanna TG326 #TheClippertonProject

The Johanna with sails up (Photo by Ingi Sorensøn https://youpic.com/photographer/Ingis/)
The Johanna with sails up (Photo: Ingi Sorensøn https://youpic.com/photographer/Ingis/)

This post is a dedication to the lovely Johanna TG326, our main mode of transport when we were in the Faroe Islands on a residency with The Clipperton Project.

Johanna under Sail
Johanna under sail (Photo: Martin Drury)

History
Johanna was built in Rye, Sussex in the South of England in 1884 at the famous shipyard owned by James Collins Hoad. Johanna was initially named Oxfordshire, with the first owner being John William Haylock from Dulwick in Surrey.

Shackle from the Johanna
Anchor shackle from the Johanna (Photo: Martin Drury)

In October 1894 Grimsby shipownder Greorg Edv. James Moody bought the Oxfordshire, though sold it December 1894 to Jákup Dahl, a general merchant in Vágur in the southern most island of the Faroes, Sudaroy. It was the first sloop owned by Dahl, who later established the company A/S J. Dahl and purchasing several sloops and schooners over the next thirty years. A/S J. Dahl was one of the most important companies in the Faroes in the 20th century, operating more than 20 sloops and schooners and having several other businesses in Vágur.

Some of the ropes
Some of the ropes (Photo: Martin Drury)

The Johanna was part of the companies fishing fleet until the outbreak of WW2, when most of the Faroese sloops began to ice fish for the British market. Johanna remained part of the fleet as a fishing vessel until around 1972.

In the early 1970s only a few sloops remained in the Faroes, one of them being the Joahnna. From 1972, she remained in the Vágur harbour and was considered a nuisance. In 1980 A/S J. Dahl planned to sink Johanna, which had been the fate of many of the other sloops.

Ropes and rigging
Ropes and rigging (Photo: Martin Drury)

The Johanna was saved at the last-minute when a trust was formed to save Johanna and restore the sloop to the original condition. In 1981, The Trust Johanna TG326 bought the sloop Johanna from A/S J. Dahl for one Danish Kroner.

It took eight years to fully restore the Johanna, many timber parts have had to be replaced, but today the Johanna still retains her elegant shape and form.

The day we sailed into Sandoy was really special as another sloop, the Westward Ho docked beside us. Check out this great picture from Mhairi Law when she climbed up the mast.

Westward Ho docks beside the Johana (Photo by Mhairi Law)
Westward Ho docks beside the Johana (Photo: Mhairi Law)

Here are some more pictures of some of the details of the Joahnna.

 

The Snæfellsnes and journey to the centre of the earth #SIMResidency

Yesterday was an amazing day as I set off with some of the artists from the SIM Residency on a road trip to the Snæfellsnes peninsula, north-west of Reykjavik.

Our first stop was the historic town of Borgarnes, where we went to the Settlement Center. We had a lot of fun in the exhibit, where there are some 3d fibreglass interactive maps, a bow of a ship that moves and some great information about the early days of the Icelandic Sagas and the creation of the parliament in Iceland in 930AD (located in Þingvellir). Lots of buttons were pressed and plenty of laughs were had on the recreation of the viking boat. We also took a few pictures of the fjord behind the museum.

From there we headed to Stykkishólmur, where we enjoyed some great fish and chips on the wharf before heading to the Library of Water and checking out the incredible church.

We took our time heading west, taking lots of photographs along the way before stopping at Ólafsvík and checking out the triangle church.

Everywhere we went there were lava fields – I was amazed at how soft they felt – I always imagined them to be really hard. I think they would be dangerous to walk on as you could fall through the sections that are sparsely covered, or covered in moss.

The next stop was at the Saxhóll Crater, where you walk 300 metres up a flight of stairs to arrive at the top of the crater. There are fantastic views of the surrounding landscape, especially the Snæfellsjökull volcano.

The Snæfellsjökull volcano, glacier and surrounding landscape was the inspiration for Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, which incidentally was one of my favourite books as a child. Although we were keen to go to the glacier, we were informed that it takes about five hours, you need shoes with metal spikes, an all-wheel-drive vehicle – none of which we had. We also learnt that much care was needed as there were cracks in the glacier as it is summer. We decided that it might be better to go with a guide another time.

On the way back to Reykjavik,we were so lucky to see some Gray Seals at Ytri Tunga. When we arrived we were told by some other tourists that there was only one on a rock, but we thought it was worth walking along the beach anyway. When we got close to the rocks we saw the big one basking on a rock and then over the next 20 minutes around half a dozen appeared. Also the sun was just gorgeous, sparkling and golden as it was reflected on the water. Here is a short video of the seals – it is bit wonky as I only had my phone with me.

After leaving at 10am, I finally arrived home by around 1.30am – a huge day and biggest thanks to the awesome driver Ella <3. It was an amazing day and a taste of what an incredible place Iceland truly is.

Finding bearings in Reykjavik #SIMResidency

Tracey’s first blog post from Iceland 🙂

Tracey M Benson

The past few days have been much of a blur since finishing the residency with The Clipperton Project.

I arrived in Reykjavik to enjoy a few days as a tourist before starting my residency with The Association of Icelandic Visual Artists (SÍM) at Korpúlfsstaðir.

The residency is located in what used to be Icelands largest dairy farm, on the outskirts of Reykjavík with gorgeous view of Mt. Esja. Korpúlfsstaðir has 40 SÍM artist studios, a textile workshop, a ceramic workshop, an artist run gallery as well a golf club with a golf course outside. I have also heard you can get a good coffee from the golf course.

When I first arrived in Reykjavik, I stayed in a lovely AirBnB on Laugavegur, one of the main tourist streets. It was very handy to walk to lots of places including the Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral and museums and galleries downtown.

Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral Hallgrímskirkja…

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Making the mark: site, place, identity #TheClippertonProject

A post from Tracey reflecting on “Traces in the Landscape”

Tracey M Benson

This post is going to be a little bit like a ball of Faroese wool that I managed to knot up while I was aboard the Johanna TG 326 with the The Clipperton Project. So please be patient dear Reader as I attempt to unravel my tangled thoughts, connections and reflections.

Yesterday was our last full day as a group together on the Johanna and it was truly special for a several reasons. Firstly, we had the immense privilege of working together with the crew to haul up the sails and sail for a couple of hours around Tórshavn. It was also one of our team members birthday, Nils Aksnes, who enjoyed being at the helm while we were sailing. Also, we visited the Island of Nólsoy which was very lovely despite the rain.

What was also magic was local photographer Ingi Sørensen catching us with the sails up…

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More traces in the landscape #TheClippertonProject

Latest post from Tracey in the Faroe Islands.

Tracey M Benson

Here are the last couple of days worth of Rune drawings from Fuglafjørður, Klaksvik and Mikladalur. I am finding this project to be a lot of fun so far, as I seek out interesting and meaningful places to ‘leave a trace’. What is also really cool is that I have also inspired one of the other participants, artist and jeweller Chloe Henderson to do some chalk drawings outside as well.

More to come 🙂

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Leaving traces in the landscape #TheClippertonProject

Latest post from Tracey about our journey of the #Faroes with #TheClippertonProject

Tracey M Benson

Yesterday we were back in Tórshavn after travelling from Sandur in Sandoy.

It was great to be back – we went and had a delicious coffee at @Brell, checked out the book shop and then I thought to create an intervention (read chalk graffiti) in the old town. The chalk drawing is a response to my poor lack of documentation through this journey – some days I did not capture any photographs or write in my journal.

The one thing I have done every day is to do a short reading of the Runes. Then an idea came to me that reflected some of my thoughts around place, the past and my experience of that place. I have wanted to find evidence of the Vikings in the Faroes and so far not found much in the landscape or in the towns we have visited. I was looking for things like…

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Faroese chain dance and fairy tales #TheClippertonProject

New post from Tracey on the #TheClippertonProject

Tracey M Benson

The other day the Clipperton Project gang was very fortunate to meet local blogger and educator Birgir Kruse and cultural researcher Tóta Arnadottir.

Birgir talked to us about Faroese culture and history with a focus on the language and historic ties to Denmark, WW11 connections to Britton and linguistic context to old Norse and Gaelic.

Tóta’s talk was focused on myths, ballads and storytelling in Faroese culture. What was very interesting in her talk was the relationship of the Faroese chain dance to the ongoing survival of the language and the culture. It was also fascinating to learn about some of the Faroese fairy tales and myths – particularly the Huldufólk, the Seal Woman (Kópakonan or Selkie) and stories of trolls and giants.

The Norns and the Tree, Faroe Islands 2003, Artist Anker Eli Petersen The Norns and the Tree, Faroe Islands 2003,
Artist Anker Eli Petersen

I was interested to learn more about Faroese fairy tales and…

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Mykines, Faroe Islands

Yesterday we caught the ferry from Sørvágur on Vágar to Mykines – the most westerly island in the Faroes.

Mykines is a beautiful place, famous for its Puffin population and beautiful cottages with grass roofs.

The other thing Mykines is well-known for is the unpredictability of its weather, which affects reliable transport to the island. The ferry only runs during the Summer months and if there are southerly or westerly winds then the ferry cannot dock. The other transport option is helicoptor, but it is also reliant on the weather.

We are all hoping for good winds tomorrow as we head back to Vágar, though if we are stranded there are plenty of potatoes to cook 🙂