Friday, 26 February 2021

Under Arctic skies


Under Arctic Skies

a nomadic lifestyle in close connection with nature and seasons

Introduction by Gordon:

We called this project “Travelling Stories” as a reminder of the histories that the objects involved have been carrying around the world for years

Carved antler - Sami?


really appealed. The objects in the Schools Loan Service brought the stories of their homelands to the people of Derbyshire, inviting visitors to investigate – or speculate – on the stories behind the artefacts. Now, those objects and their stories are moving on again. Some pieces are following long wandering trails back to where they came from. Others are moving on to new homes, taking their stories with them and hopefully sharing those stories in different ways with new people.We invited our artists (or maybe challenged them) to respond to objects within the collections that were going to their individual museum.


Ingrid Karlsson is one of the artists working with the material coming to Buxton Museum. Here there is a collection of pieces from the arctic: carvings and models from the Inuit and some beautiful spoons carved from antler


Ingrid takes up her story now:



As an artist using mixed media, the notion of telling the stories of objects immediately appealed to me, and my curiosity was trigged from the moment go. 


On my first visit to Buxton Museum in late November I was very taken with the current exhibition Between Two Worlds, a unique collection of work from artists in the 20th century affected by war and intolerance, with headings such as Degenerate, Imprisoned and Persecuted. 

carved spoon, Sami
The Buxton material includes a small collection of Sámi spoons, hand carved from antler in the traditional way by the Sámi. One of the old Arctic peoples, the Sami have lived as reindeer herders for centuries in the most northern area of Europe. Now known as Sápmi, the Sami lands cover parts of Arctic Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. My connection with the spoons is to some extent personal, in that I am Swedish and grew up in the coastal part of Sápmi. I grew up learning a stereotyped view of The Lapps, who were already greatly affected by colonisation, state intervention and climate change. 

There is a lot of story to tell here, and the timing feels most poignant. Under the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic and a more acute threat from climate change than ever before, our view of the world is having to change as the future becomes increasingly uncertain. We are beginning to understand how vulnerable our modern world with its consumerist lifestyle is to such challenges. Arctic peoples like the Sámi had a very different spiritual relationship with the natural world and its resources which has given them the strength and resilience to cope with such uncertainty. The old Sámi calendar reflects a cyclical world view, with its eight seasons completely ruled by weather and landscape with migrations dictated by the needs of the reindeer herds. Like the Inuit, the Sámi negotiated with the climate, weather, nature and animals for survival. Both the history of the Sámi lifestyle and their close reciprocal relationship with natural elements reflect their adaptability as well as innovative technical skills in using resources like antler, horn, skin, bone, fur and wood for clothing, protection, tools and equipment.






mountains in Västerbotten, part of Sápmi(older image by Ingrid)


The story, history and life cycle of the Sámi is best described as a continuous circle without beginning or end. It is this round concept which appeals to me and I hope to visualise the origin of the carved spoons as a triptych looking at the circumpolar geography, the seasonal calendar and the nomadic lifestyle in close connection with nature and seasons.


Sápmi flag










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