Arnøya, Norway — here I come

Notes from an Island1 — your invitation to receive stories and vignettes of my journey to Arnøya, Norway.

Tromsø, Norway. [Photo by Thomas Claeys on Unsplash]

Hi everyone. This is a loooong one, as I want to give you the backstory and some details about my upcoming trip to Arnøya, Norway in July. It includes some of the story so far and some of what lies ahead in the coming months.

I would love you to come on the journey with me.

I don’t clearly recall exactly how, or when, I found out about Starlight and Storm. I suspect some quiet part of me knew that my creative fire was something I needed to nurture and this could possibly be a catalyst for some of that. However it came about, as soon as I found out about their week long group creative residency, I took a deep breath and applied. Figuring that, if I was accepted, I could work the logistics of the actual trip out over the coming months.

Hannah and Joe (our hosts who offer these residencies) write to let me and the other attendees know that “there is a diverse and inspiring crew of folks that will be joining them this summer, including folks from disciplines such as writing, visual art, film and more.” This promised to be a rich experience, and a wonderful opportunity to connect with others, drinking in the unique landscapes of Arnøya and seeing how it shapes my creative journey.

Image source: Silver Tjepkema on instagram

The Island of Arnøya is roughly a 25km x 25km square with a couple tiny villages and 350 total residents. It is the 15th largest island in Norway, reachable only by ferry (like Waiheke Island, where I live). The fast ferry from Tromsø takes about 2.5 hours. The entire mountainous interior is tree-free open roaming through alpine meadow dotted with icy lakes and steep slopes that fall into long fjords all around the coast. There are 2 tiny grocery/post offices on the island and that is all. Sheep sleep in the road and reindeer roam the mountains and mudflats in summer, with ptarmigan and arctic hare taking over in the winter. The weather is dynamic with rainstorms blowing through often and daylight that lasts for 24 hours all through the summer months. Four seasons in one day (very similar to life in New Zealand!)

The place I’m staying, called Singla by locals, is an historic homestead that is in the process of being re-imagined as a base for arts, research and adventure. First developed in the 1850s it consists of a handful of buildings from generations of fiskerbonde or fisherman-farmers life, including an old pier, boathouse, barn, cottage, and a tiny working lighthouse, complete with all of the tools and treasures of years gone by. The first floor of the big blue fjøs (barn) will be our primary space for creating when not out-of-doors. The small farmhouse cottage has an eccentric layout of bedrooms (think bunk rooms, but a notch more private) and a kitchen and living room for eating group meals and relaxing by the cozy wood stove. The house provides rustic accommodations, similar to a backcountry hut. It has electricity and running water for cooking and washing, but sea dips are encouraged paired with sauna bathing, as there are no laundry or showers available. The bathroom features an incinerating toilet. The kitchen is tiny but mighty and they will be sharing Scandinavian traditions like Fika (afternoon coffee with fresh baked treats) and wild favourites from fjell / mountain and fjord / sea.

The residency runs for a week from Friday 26th July to Friday 2nd August and I can’t wait!

My return flights from New Zealand to the UK have been booked. And I’m grateful to have friends I can stay with so I don’t have to pay UK prices for somewhere to sleep. Already my mind is turning towards my packing list — wanting to take the smallest amount of luggage possible that will still allow me creative freedom. I’ve also booked my flights to/from Tromsø in Norway, where I’ll stay for a few days prior to boarding the ferry with the other people joining the residency.

My visit to Norway will be an exploration undertaken with just a small selection of camera gear. I am intending to keep an open heart and mind, with a willingness to be IN the landscape, immersing myself wholly in the depth and breadth of it. Allowing space for collaboration, new ideas, pattern recognition. Leaving behind any ideas of what the trip should be and allowing curiosity and creativity to seek new places to roam. I will be spending each day on Arnøya in nature, recognising that we are all intimately connected to our surroundings and wanting to learn from that connectedness.

Funds gifted to me will go towards…

  • Flight costs // London to Norway return (I am covering my return flights from NZ to the UK and my on-island costs—like the residency fees)
  • General travel expenses—like food, transport and accommodation along the way
  • Some of my art supplies, including the polaroid film and watercolour paper needed for making emulsion lifts 2

NZD $5 (~ £2.50 / $3)

  • I’ll send you a personalised thank-you email

NZD $10 (~ £5 / $6)

  • I’ll send you a personalised thank-you email,
  • and a summary email of my trip

NZD $25 (~ £12 / $15)

  • I’ll send you a personalised thank-you email,
  • and a personalised postcard,
  • and a summary email of my trip

NZD $50 (~ £25 / $30)

  • I’ll send you a personalised thank-you email,
  • and three postcards containing images from my trip (blank on the back for you to use)
  • trip updates via email,
  • and a summary email of my trip

NZD $100 (~ £50 / $60)

  • I’ll send you a personalised thank-you email,
  • and three postcards containing images from my trip (blank on the back for you to use)
  • plus a PDF zine containing my favourite images from the trip (will not be available publicly),
  • trip updates via email,
  • and a summary email of my trip

NZD $250 (~ £125 / $150)

  • I’ll send you a personalised thank-you email,
  • and three postcards containing images from my trip (blank on the back for you to use)
  • and a souvenir from Norway, selected specially for you,
  • plus a hand-made chap book containing my favourite images from the trip (will not be available publicly),
  • trip updates via email,
  • and a summary email of my trip

Feeling generous and want to give even more?

  • Rewards will be all of the above
  • Plus, a limited edition print

Great question. There will also be occasional public posts, here and on instagram, for you to follow along.

Whew! That was a long one. Thanks for sticking with me to the end. Whatever option you choose, I do hope you will accompany me as I prepare for, and embark on this unique adventure.


  1. Inspired by the delightful book of the same name by Tove Jansson. And also the working title of my updates / zine / book ↩︎
  2. An emulsion lift is a process used to remove the photographic emulsion from an instant print by introducing it in warm water. The emulsion can then be transferred to another material, such as watercolour paper. I’ve made these before and plan to make some during my time on Arnøya.
    » And here’s one I did recently ↩︎