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.
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.
Stykkishólmur Church on the hill
Library of Water
Library of Water
Library of Water
View of Stykkishólmur from the Library of Water
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.
Snæfellsjökull in the distance
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.
Kirkjubøargarður (Faroese for Yard of Kirkjubøur, also known as King’s Farm) is one of the oldest still inhabited wooden houses of the world, if not the oldest according to Wikipedia.
The old farmhouse of Kirkjubøur dates back to the 11th century. It was the episcopal residence and seminary of the Diocese of the Faroe Islands, from about 1100. The legend says, that the wood for the block houses came as driftwood from Norway and was accurately bundled and numbered, just for being set up.
The ruins of the Magnus Cathedral (Kirkjubømúrurin), built by Bishop Erlendur around the year 1300 is very impressive. The medieval building was never completed and still remains unfinished and without a roof.
The grass roofs of the traditional houses are very beautiful and something I have not seen anywhere else.
What I am finding even more beautiful is the landscape of rocky outcrops, cliffs and islands jutting out of the sea. It is the stuff of dreams and magic and we can’t wait to experience more of this beautiful place.
The past couple of days we have been slowly orienting ourselves to the Faroe Islands and our next month as part of the Clipperton Project (TCP). At the moment we are based in Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroes.
Tórshavn is a really gorgeous place – lots of interesting things to photograph!
Gallery in Tórshavn
The Clipperton Prject mob
Tórshavn at 3am
Marty relaxing at Tórshavn Harbour
To give a little bit of a cultural context – the Faroe Islands have been a self governing region of the Kingdom of Denmark since 1948. It has its own parliament and its own flag. The Visit Faroe Islands website has some great information about the history of the Faroes:
According to stories passed down for generations the Irish abbot St. Brendan in AD 565 went in search of The Promised Land of the Saints. One of the stories told of a visit to “The Islands of the Sheep and the Paradise of Birds” situated several days’ sailing distance from Scotland. Based on this story and archaeology excavations there is good reason to believe that Irish monks were the first settlers in the Faroe Islands.
In the 9th century Norse settlers came to the Faroe Islands. These were mainy farmers who fleed from Norway and ended up in the Faroe Islands in search of new land. The special constitutional status of the islands was originally founded on the ancient viking tradition from the 9th century AD (all free men convened at the Althing, later called Løgting, in the capital Tórshavn). From the latter half of the 12th century on – when attached to the medieval Norwegian Kingdom – they further developed their own culture, language and other social institutions, while at the same time adapting constitutionally to the surrounding political contexts of coming and going empires reaching out from the Scandinavian heartlands.
Little is known about Faroese history up until the 14th century. The main historical source for this period is the 13th century work Færeyinga Saga (Saga of the Faroese).
Anyway, we have only just started our journey with TCP – will share more soon!
My journey to Christchurch to work on a book project is my first time travelling to the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. Although I have been to NZ a few times over the last decade, I have never ventured any further south than the region of Taranaki.
Christchurch, as many readers would know, was devastated by an earthquake in February 2011. It has been a difficult and expensive process to rebuild the city and although a lot of progress has happened, many heritage buildings may never be restored just because of the sheer cost.
Today I spent the day walking around the city centre and also rode the inner city tram which was a really nice way to learn about Christchurch. It is a little pricy at $20NZ, but you can hop on and off all day. The drivers also share a lot of local knowledge so I think it is worth the money.
There are some fabulous places to visit when in Christchurch. I had a great time exploring the Re:START markets. The market stalls are mainly set up in shipping containers and the area was the first to be reopened after the 2011 earthquake. There are some great shops with lots of local products. My favourite shop has to be HAPA – I just love all the handmade jewellery, ornaments, cushions and knick knacks. Unfortunately my budget is very tight this trip so no spending sadly though perhaps this is a blessing in disguise 🙂
The other place I enjoyed visiting is the Canterbury Museum, which is free entry and open 7 days a week. There are some great exhibits, including a replica of the street from the early 1900s. It is also worth noting that the museum is located close to the Botanic Gardens which is a lovely place to walk around.
Street art is in abundance in the city centre, making the cityscape lively and colourful. It is also a nice distraction from the many damaged buildings and empty city blocks.
It will take a long time for Christchurch to rebuild entirely, but what I find inspiring is that the residents of Christchurch are helping to shape the future of the city. For example, many people love the shipping containers at Re:START, so they may become a permanent fixture. Also the community has asked that the city’s skyline have less high-rises in the future, so the only high-rise buildings that will exist into the future are the ones currently standing.
There are some great art and technology projects that have focused on the city:
Soundsky: Artist/designer Trudy Lane and sound artist/musician/developer Halsey Burgund have been the main coordinators of the project to-date with significant input from Michael Reynolds of A Brave New City, and increasing numbers of local artists interested for their audio works to join the environment.
Sensing City: The Sensing City Trust is a non-profit organisation working with Christchurch stakeholders to help them understand how data can inform decisions about city management. The Trust has two active projects – one focussed on the impact of air pollution on respiratory disease, and the other on cyclists generating data to inform cycleway development.
SCAPE Public Art installs free-to-view contemporary public art in Christchurch city. Their vision is for Christchurch people to be excited, engaged and stimulated by the contemporary public art that is well-regarded and known by the national and international art world.
This evening as I write this post a small shake has been recorded south of Christchurch – though only 2.4 magnitude. I did not notice anything 🙂 In any case, I am very much looking forward to working on the ADA book project and learning all about booksprinting!
Fort Cochin is such a fabulous place, I don’t know where to begin to describe how wonderful this place really is.
There are many layers of history and culture in Fort Cochin, making it a fascinating visual feast in an architectural sense. Elegant 15th Century Portuguese Mansions sit side by side with English Colonial Style buildings and colourful shacks painted many different colours. There are some beautiful churches, mosques and Hindu temples, again, sitting peacefully side by side.
The thing that is most wonderful is the people. Their warmth and good nature melts religious differences, making this community one of diversity and harmony. Many other countries could learn from Kochi people.
Here are a couple of maps that track some journeys around Fort Cochin, with links to my EveryTrail maps.
Today’s post is a feeble attempt to try and catch up from over three months of not writing. The bad habit of missing days started with a day here or there but now I find that I haven’t written for weeks. There is really no excuse, perhaps except that I have been caught up with a number of art projects, which should count for something 🙂
My subject today is the place I live, the capital city of Australia, Canberra. As an attempt to make up for missing 84 posts, at the end of this post are 84 places worth visiting around the region, some of which have already been written about. Although it is a numbered list, it is not a list of best to worst, it is only as list of places as they came to mind.
Last week Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory was determined the best place in the world to live, according a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Canberra led the regional ranking while Australia topped the overall country rankings, followed by Norway.
The OECD ranked 362 regions of its 34 member nations in its survey. Seven areas were assessed: Health, Safety, Access to services, Civic engagement, Jobs, Education, Environment and Income.
One of the things I love about living in Canberra, is the many bushwalking trails both in Canberra and in the region. Only yesterday, we walked up Mt Majura, to do some exploring as part of a project I am developing for Long Time No See? On our way back down the mountain we came across some other walkers who were doing the Centenary Trail, having walked from Parliament House. This trail certainly looks challenging and perhaps something to pursue.
Day 88: Karangahape Road, Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand
In an earlier post, I spoke about a forthcoming augmented reality project that I will be presenting as part of the ADA Mesh Cities Symposium in Auckland. The project titled Finding the Ghosts of K Road will explore Auckland’s oldest street, hopefully uncovering some of the ghosts of the past though the imagery of the old photographs of the streetscape.
Something that has been really wonderful about developing this project is the help and support I have received from some of my artist friends, who have generously shared stories about K Road. For example, Trudy Lane shared some very interesting information about some of her ancestors who lived in the area. The story below is very sad about the loss of a number of her ancestors. Trudy writes:
My Great Great Grandfather — Captain William Solloway Lane — died at sea in 1893, failing to return from a voyage to Tasmania. With him on board was his wife Lucy’s sister-in-law and her youngest sister. She was pregnant with twins at the time. 3 days after giving birth to them, Lucy died. One of the twins also died two days later.
Captain William Solloway Lane, died April 1893
Christina, born 11 April, 1893
Lucy Lane, died 12 April, 1893
In the material she sent me was a story of how this tragedy impacted the then small community of Auckland. I have transcribed this text from the images below:
This sad chronicle so moved everyone in the then small town of Auckland that people lined the streets from Ponsonby to Symonds Streets as the funeral cortege for Lucy Chiffinch Lane and her baby passed by.
Here are the images from Trudy.
Image credit: Trudy Lane family history
Image credit: Trudy Lane family history
Image credit: Trudy Lane family history
Image credit: Trudy Lane family history
Trudy also informed me about the work of historian Edward Bennett, who has done extensive research on K Road. I have subsequently been in touch with Edward and he has been a great source of guidance for the walk, and hopefully will be our tour guide on the day!
The walk is scheduled for the 12th September and will start at Artspace in Karangahape Road at 15:15.
Here is the map – in progress:
I am really grateful for being guided by the experts for this project, people who have an intimate knowledge of K Road. It really helps me to get a better sense of the place I am exploring, which I hope will result in a richer experience for people doing the walk.
It is not long until we will be in Auckland for the Symposium – can’t wait!
Nyuh Kuning (Yellow Coconut Village)
For the 10th year I’m home – at blessed Alam Jiwa in the traditional Balinese woodcarving village of Nyuh Kuning. It’s just a short walk through Monkey Forest to Ubud, the world-famous arts and crafts capital of Bali.
Surrounded by shimmering rice fields with a view of sacred Mount Agung, the village is a showcase of traditional Balinese culture. Alam Jiwa translates as ‘the soul of nature’ and is a total of eleven beautiful two and three-story stone ‘apartments’ running along the border of the rice paddies.
The owners of Café Wayan, Ibu Wayan and Pak Ketut have created an ambience reflecting the beautiful nature of Bali. The secluded setting of the six Alam properties in Ubud and a hotel in the Gilis all feel like retreats – yet also a connection to interact with Balinese culture.
It’s just a short walk from Alam Jiwa to the Monkey Forest, the home to over 300 macaque monkeys. The Balinese believe these monkey to be spiritual beings who are protective guardians of the temple ‘Pura Dalem Agung’. They have free reign in the village of Nyuh Kuning.
The overwhelming feeling of staying at Alam Jiwa is being part of a family. On arrival I’m always greeting with a huge vase of tropical flowers with a typical message ‘Welcome home to Garry Benson’. I know the staff and their families, and to see their eager faces and smiles when they welcome me back are wonderful.
My hour long morning daily walk in Nyuh Kuning village is always a buzz. After 10 years I know a lot of the locals who smile & wave and sometimes chat. Just one of the paved streets about half a kilometre long had a total of 126 different sculptures.
Each Balinese compound has its own temple dogs or guards, but the outstanding one for someone with a mudbrick house is this one. Beautiful stone mosaics, and dozens of small sculptures embedded in the walls.
The village is intentionally ‘house proud’ and the villagers vie with each other to have the most beautiful entrances. The main streets of the village abutting Monkey Forest are all paved and decorated, with a soccer field, a temple complex and local school. It’s almost a model traditional Balinese village and a wonderful place to stay, to walk around and enjoy the numerous restaurants etc.
It’s amazing that this traditional woodcarving village has such a wonderful array of stone sculptures, carved wooden doors and offerings, a constant joy to crazy photographers like me!
Today was our first day back in beautiful Bali and we spent a very relaxing day walking along the beach, getting a massage, swimming and eating some yummy Indonesian food.
While we were walking I photographed some of the interesting stone carvings, doorways and views of the beach. There are also a few pics of our gorgeous room at the Paneeda View Beach Hotel. Hope you enjoy 🙂