Between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic, lies The Faroe Islands. Halfway between Iceland and Norway. I did not choose Faroe Islands for any particular reason, its landscape was stunning in its own right. The islands were formed in layers, and that is what you will see now, mountains, valleys, and fjords, surrounded by ocean. I have never felt more alone and more at peace than in this desolate paradise.
I set off, travelling to Faroe Islands, stopping along to see the wildly picturesque places such as Gásadalur, which is where you will find the Mulafossur Waterfall, to Gjógv, a lovely little village enclosed by mountains and ocean, which has its own natural harbour carved within its land. From there I ventured to the calm and beautiful Saksun, where the light danced along the mountain tops, Fusi the collie awaited me at the top of the hill for some play time and where horses with braids in their manes grazed among the hills. I also made short ferry ride over to Kalsoy to find the Kallur lighthouse set amongst the cliffs.
One of the most memorable times from my 10 days exploring the islands however, was when I found myself on Mykines, the westernmost point of the 18 islands that make up The Faroes. It is a small yet spectacular island, with fewer than 20 people in its tiny, picturesque village. Cute and historic houses with turf roofs run next to a stream running down from the mountains. Mykines is known to have a special light. Artist Sámal Joensen-Mikines grew up on the island and become internationally recognised for portraying this light in his artwork. The Faroese say those who live on the island always have a suntan. I believe them. The light was blinding upon my arrival.
The Mykineshólmur islet is connected to Mykines by only a footbridge that stands 35 meters above The Atlantic. Puffins make this part of the island a very popular place to visit. This islet is also home to a very important lighthouse, which is more than 100 years old. Arriving off the helicopter, I looked to sort out where I was intended to stay. At the time there was only one B&B to stay at and a woman by the name of Agna helped me along to try and track down who was to check me in. Turns out, no one was there! Being alone, and without supplies, Agna kindly offered me to come over to her cottage with her husband Hans while we figured it out. They ended up taking me in for the few days I was to stay on the island when it appeared that the mixup resulted in there being no host for me at my original cottage. It was somewhat of a relief to not be sleeping alone in a very old house, steeped in history. I got along with Agna and Hans and thoroughly enjoyed their company. Their cottage was passed down through the family of their son’s partner. Agna and Hans would frequent the cottage, taking care of it in the absence of guests when it would be rented out. Agna and Hans hold a special place in my heart for their kindness and warmth, for allowing me to stay in the beautiful cottage built in 1919.
I wanted to share some images from when I was invited by the locals to go and herd some sheep on the other side of the island, closer to the side of Vágar. Sheep herding is still an imperative part of life on the islands – both in the traditional sense as the Faroese have been farming sheep for generations and for practical ones such as for wool and food. This opportunity would mean I would have covered one end of the island to the other by the end of my time there. The hike starts on the only road that leads through the tiny village, fitted in a pair of borrowed rubber boots and a sheep wool sweater, we headed out shortly after breakfast. The fog began to settle on the island and we had to take rest as the wind picked up and the fog lessened the visibility. We continued walking through the stone forest of Korkadular towards the valley. Arriving over the hill, looking out towards Vágar, it was breathtaking to see the other side of the island. Fjords jutting out of the ocean, the tallest sea cliffs in Europe lining the shores of the islands. A further walk led us down into the valley of Kalvadalur, where we could see the sheep, along with the other locals who had ventured out before us. The sheep were to receive their winter vaccinations, and have their wool trimmed back, some selected to be herded to their fate of slaughter, and some set free to graze. After the wool was trimmed off the sheep, we would gather is in big piles and stick it into the mud. Stomping on it to ensure it was fully covered, this wool however would not be turning into wine. It was sheep season on the island.
Looking back at my time here, I look back with gratitude when I think about the people I have been fortunate enough to meet, the experiences I have been able to take part in. Being able to sit at a dinner table with locals in a country I am foreign to, to be invited, to feel welcomed. It changes you in a way getting to know parts of the world unknown almost entirely to most people. I hope I can continue to photograph the lives of both humans and animals that inhabit places like these.
Sadly Agna passed away a few days ago from Cancer. This loss has reached places I did not know it would touch and I wanted to share these images in tribute of her.
WORK WITH ME
Looking for someone to document your story in a similar way? I would love for you to reach out so I can about all your plans and to find out how I can photograph your story.