46 is a lot of people to relate to but there are some interesting discussions happening at mealtimes, or in the bar or walks. Some of the musicians, like KT Tunstall, are already very conscious of their carbon footprint, reducing flying to a minimum and following a gold standard offset scheme. We don't need an outpouring of climate change related songs and artworks; it could be embarrassing.
The experience of this voyage is such a visual and sensory feast that
its impressions will certainly influence people's work, though not necessarily as climate change. Works like previous Cape Farewell expeditioner Ian McEwan's forthcoming novel on climate change will be rare, and that is fine. What many in this crew have is access to a huge global audience that they are able to inspire. They are in a strong position to communicate not only the urgency of the condition we are in but also the huge scope for action that almost everyone in the world has, both collectively and individually.
We sail into Uummannaq Fjord and anchor off shore because there is
already a vessel in Uummannaq harbour. This is Ludwig's hometown and he has organised a visit to a children's home and a gig for the
musicians in the evening in a hotel; sort of a Glastonbury in Uummannaq with this line-up. The care provided in the home is a
fantastic testament to compassion, intelligence and dedication and
reminds me of MacIntyre Schools for whom we designed buildings in the early days of the practice. Feeding the huskies is a big moment in the day and their howling will be one of the indelible memories of this
trip. It happens to be special day and there are visitors from the
town to listen to Greenlandic songs from both the kids and a brilliant
local choir just back fro a foreign tour. Cakes and delicacies like raw seal liver and dried whale meat are laid out for us to sample.
Uummannaq has a real sense of the civic. Though everything is covered in thick snow you can make out a sloping central plaza dominated by a stone church. There are three traditional turf houses nearby one of which was inhabited until 1989. The turf is used between stones, as mortar in effect, and until the Danes brought timber, these one or two room houses were the prevailing typology. The main grain of Uummannaq now is formed of simple large timber clad buildings stained deep red and, here and there, other colours. The museum has an absorbing collection of Inuit artefacts, clothes and implements and doubles as a gift shop.
The gig in the evening – in order of appearance: Lemn Sissay, Marcus
Brigstock, Martha Wainwright, Shlomo, Leslie Feist, Jarvis Cocker, KT
Tunstall, Robyn Hitchcock, Vanessa Carlton and Ryuichi Sakomoto – is
beyond any pop superlative cliché. Halfway through we look out of the
window and there in the clear sky is the aurora borealis. We spill out
into the snow covered harbour front and watch the aurora for a long
time till the zodiacs come.
I have worked out the projects. The first is to put up in a suitable
and sheltered spot further north, four balloons such that a volume of
540 m3 is delineated between their tether lines: the volume of one
tonne of CO2; the average emission per person per month in the UK.
Within a few years must make that same amount last 6 month. The
tethers will have electro luminescent wires attached, so that as a
balloon makes the tether sway in the wind a tree-like form can be
recorded after dark either by leaving a camera shutter open and creating a ghostly outline (perhaps like the aurora?) or by taking
shots at intervals. Trees in treeless country. An obvious connection
The second project is to develop Chris's initial aerial video idea, but to mimic the track of the scientist's measurements of the seabed, the output of which is a graphical cross section from shore out to sea. With a video camera 6-8m above me on a balloon I will walk 50-100m from landward to the shore and then proceed in a zodiac out into the fjord in the same direction. The camera will record an aerial video of this track.
What we now need is calm weather and a suitable landing place.