One of the big inspirations for some of my work was the most amazing trip I made into the Arctic Circle. I had always wanted to see the Northern lights, and on my 40th birthday I was lucky enough to take a trip to the very North of Finland to see if I could spot them.
The jewellery that I designed following that beautiful and inspiring trip has recently been included in an exhibition in The Fenwick Gallery in Northumberland. The exhibition is called Aurora. It's difficult to convey how excited I feel about being included in the exhibition. I feel it's perfect that my Arctic inspired jewellery has found a place among along side other beautiful objects celebrating something as magical as the Northern Lights.
This is me at -28 degrees. It was so amazingly cold that you could feel the ice crystals form up your nose as you were breathing.
That particular day I was searching for a twig that I could cast in silver. It is an extreme environment there, but some varieties of flora and fauna thrive. I picked a small birch twig that was emerging from the snow and ice. I wrapped it in tissue and carried it back to the UK for it to be small batch cast for me to use. Every time I see that twig I am transported back to that day.
While I was there as well, as spending every night hunting the Northern Lights, I also drove my own team of Huskies, went ice fishing, travelled by skidoo right out to the Russian border through the wilderness where wolves run wild, and forged my way through thick virgin snow on snow shoes; pausing to look at the dips in the snow where the reindeer had rested and peering eagerly at tracks of small arctic mammals.
It is that day and having all the animal tracks pointed out to me that led me to produce my arctic hare pieces. It was the lolloping footprints that inspired me as I didn't actually see one!
Of course, this blog post would not be complete without some pictures of the lights. I didn't manage to take any good one! But fellow traveller Stephen Worrall took these...
"The snow fell like dust and sparked like glitter"
We stayed at Nellim Wilderness Hotel which really was just on the edge of the wilderness. The husband and wife who run it are amazing. You are treated as an individual - our snowshoeing was just with the owner and his friend, our dog sledding was with just one other guest on her own sledge plus the dog handlers on theirs. I really cannot recommend the place enough if you are an outdoor type who really wants to experience the Arctic. They also have a facebook page where they post the amazing pictures of the Northern lights.
This winter is the 'Solar Maximum.' The Northern lights are caused by solar flares from the sun, and the cosmic dust moving across Earth's atmosphere. We are in twelve year high period of the sun's activity, so the Aurora will be at their best this season. Go in February, if you go now you might get the lights, but not necessarily the snow. You need to be there in the snow!