Map With Arctic Circle

I tell a bear joke which Luis thinks is uproariously funny, although I really mean it to illustrate our inner feelings. ‘A hunter meets a gorgeous woman in a bar in one of the remote inland towns and after a while she invites him home with her. She shows him around and he sees that the apartment is full of toy bears, neatly piled on three shelves. There are small ones on the bottom shelf, medium-sized ones on the middle shelf and large ones on the top shelf. The next morning the hunter asks her, “Well, how was it?” She replies, “You can take any prize from the bottom shelf.”’ Fortunately, at that moment our guide Looty reappears and brings with him the complete head of a muskox with highly polished horns, that he has ‘found’. Erik is also a hunter back in Norway, where he lives for part of the year and buys it from him to take home with him.

Looty has organised ski-doos for us and I am given my own to drive. What a terrific thrill! Fabian also has his own. Looty takes Penny on pillion, with a sledge tied on to the back for Erik to recline on like a Roman Emperor. However, he subsequently realises that he is breathing in the fumes from Looty’s ski-doo and that isn’t too pleasant. We set off round the point to find Goldsworthy’s first set of Arctic sculptures.

Map With Arctic Circle Photo Gallery

What an incredible sight! Although already slightly damaged by the fierce winds they are still utterly magnificent. He is certainly wonderfully imaginative and creative! They are especially impressive within the plateau setting that Andy has chosen. One is a long line of thin very flat shapes, twenty in number, stretching across like a defensive ice wall from a long-ago destroyed castle; another a conical, bulbous pillar, resembling a giant spinning wheel, over three metres high; another consists of four hollow surrounds, one metre high, possibly built for the four of us and we each stand in one as a tribute to Andy. There are many different shapes of all sizes, balanced to the surrounding mountains, like monuments to a lost civilisation and another world. There is also a series of steps seemingly leading nowhere or perhaps to wherever you choose. There are over thirty sculptures in total. They stand in splendid isolation almost like a tribute to the mountains around us. We can only marvel.

I wonder what the Inuit’s thoughts are of this strange Englishman who has travelled so far and in such difficult conditions to sculpt here. Particularly as the sculptures last such fleeting moments, as the winds and the sun quickly reclaim them to the ice and the land. Nature itself often creates incredibly beautiful snow and ice shapes and sculptures, but of course, they occur purely by chance, formed through the power of the elements and not by design or intent. The philosophy of the Inuit is all around us, everywhere in this rocky and evocative white landscape. The Inuit believe that all things have souls, the very rocks and stones, as well as animate objects. A way to understand this is to realise that everything has a relationship to everything else, to the whole world. It is not such a leap to accept it and then you can appreciate and help to protect the environment as well as individuals and animals.

Looty attempts to show us how to build an igloo. You have to finish it from within, actually trapping yourself inside before cutting out an exit. The traditional igloos were built using skins over whalebones. Now just solid snow is used. Snow is easier to cut than ice. Once the walls are finished a door and a short entrance tunnel are then added. The cracks are then stuffed with loose snow for extra insulation and firmness. An igloo can be any size but usually is just sufficient for the needs of one or two hunters or the family using it. That way the inside will heat up faster. It is estimated that four people will raise the inside temperature by 10 oC. Two tips: the air vent should be placed just over half a metre from the floor at a downward angle to prevent heat escaping; the inside temperature can be raised by burning a few candles.

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