18 March 2015

Gullfest 2015 - art, architecture & science in the Arctic

Varangers iconic Steller´s Eider - field study by bird artist Lars Jonsson, Varanger March 2015

Lars Jonsson - field studies of Steller´s Eiders
 (click on any image for full screen / slide show view).

Gyrfalcon by Lars (photographed in Kiberg harbour). Lars is very well known in the international birding community as the grand master of bird art. No less. Check out Lars´ website for more brilliant bird art!
   With the Gullfest project we feel very privileged to be able to invite such great artists as Lars Jonsson, Darren Woodhead, Ian Lewington and James McCallum to Varanger. They inspire us, and they inspire birders throughout the world with their art.

Gullfest 2015 - the movie


Glaucous Gull - The great white of the Arctic, photographed from Hasselnes, Vardø, during Gullfest 2015.

Birding to the people

Bringing birding and appreciation of nature to new generations is always important, through architecture or events. At this years Gullfest we were building on our collaboration with the UK bird ringers Colin McShane aka Mr. Colin, Fergus Henderson and Sindre from the Norway Gull ringing project. Some 75 students from Vardø school experienced the excitement of Gull ringing. They also made their own bird art contributions.  

Colin McShane explaining the science of bird ringing. 

Through ringing the gulls with uniquely numbered rings, they are identifiable as individuals. Gulls ringed at previous Gullfests have been recorded again several places in Europe. 

Bird art by Vardø school kids 

Making it happen - The great contributors of Gullfest! There would be no Gullfest without the help and engagement from a lot of good people in Varanger and beyond.

Steller´s Eider by James McCallum

A highlight of Gullfest was seeing artist James McCallum in action. His in the field paintings are truly amazing and in a very lively way show the Steller´s Eider behavior. Painting in the Arctic has its challenges, and not only do you have to dress for the occasion, but you have to expect your paint to freeze too. 

Steller´s Eiders by James McCallum

James spent several days in Kiberg harbour painting Steller´s Eiders. 

A sheltered corner with views of Kiberg harbour.

Find more of James´ amazing art from the Arctic in his book ´Arctic Flight´, or check out his website for more niceness!

Birding destination development 

Birding architecture is one of Biotopes core endevours. At Vardø islands northeasternmost point, Hasselnes, a new bird hide / wind shelter was finalized for Gullfest 2015. In the frosty arctic winds nothing improves your birdng like a well placed shelter. From this new hide you have spectacular views of the very bird rich Reinøysundet and Hornøya bird cliff. This is part of a project we run in collaboration with a series of people and businesses in Varanger, with the aim of promoting one of Varangers finest attractions, the Hornøya bird cliff. This bird hide project was made possible with the financial help from Miljødirektoratet and help from Vardø kommune, Finnmark Entreprenør and Vardø Næringsforening. Designed by Biotope and built by Vardø carpenter Ken Lorentzen and Alonza from the Biotope office in the days leading up to Gullfest.

The hide building was a hectic marathon project, and it was finalized the day Gullfest started. The Lavvo base camp had to be moved to the harbour due to the heavy storm that hit Vardø the Gullfest weekend. The new bird hide was instantly filled with birders who enjoyed the spectacular stormy seawatch.

King Eider Vortex again!

The waters around Vardø island is very rich in fish, mussels and all marine life. The past years we have registered thousands of King and Common Eiders who winter in Vardø. This year there was slightly fewer eiders around due to the warm weather. But the sight of 15 000 King and Common eiders swarming around you is something you will never forget! It is epic birding.

The King Eiders Vortex, as experienced from the Vardø Harbour boat

A great occasion for plumage studies. Check out our Gullfest 2013 King Eider Vortex too
We had a few Guillemots too 

Photo from Lars Jonssons talk at Unni´s Kafé in Vardø. 

Art, architecture & science

The highlights of Gullfest are many. Seeing local kids enthused about birds and bird ringing is great. The Gullfest team changes every year, but somehow we are allways joined by the friendliest people and the finest artists. We belive science, art and architecture are amazing ways to connect nature and people. At Gullfest we aim to do just that - to bring birding and nature to the people. We are very privileged to be able to invite such great birders and experts in their various fields. We get inspiration from them to continue our work as birder architects in Varanger and beyond.

We wish to extend our deepest gratitude to the artists Lars Jonsson and James McCallum for joining us this year. Up and coming artist Jonnie Fisk has also brought good vibes to the Gullfest project. Next time you are in Vardø try to find some of his street art in town! The Gullfest ringing team with Colin McShane, Fergus Henderson and Sindre Molværsmyr (from the norwegian gull project), have all been great at showcasing Gull ringing  for the locals. More then 150 Herring Gulls and 10 Glaucous Gulls was ringed during Gullfest this year. That is more then all previous Gullfests in total. Expect to see a Gullfest Gull showing up somewhere near you (look for black & white leg rings starting with JX).

The Gullfest is made possible thanks to a number of great people and businesses in Varanger and northern Norway. A very big thanks to SNN Kulturstiftelsen for supporting the art section of Gullfest, which includes flying the worlds greatest bird artists to Vardø. Vardø Hotel have very kindly supported Gullfest with rooms for our invited guests, speakers, bird ringers and artists! Thank you! Northern Norways premium chef, Tor emil aka Varangerkokken have supported us with the most amazing local food. Cod is great! Thanks Tor Emil. The guys at Vardø Harbour / Vadø Havn KF have very kindly supported us with a boat trip - of epic proportions! Vardø kommune have also supported Gullfest, and our Hasselnes bird hide project. Many thanks to the guys for helping us make this event happen, again! Arne Petter and Torkjell from Statens Naturoppsyn (nature wardens) made the school kids day so much more pleasant with their mega-lavvo with a fireplace at the Vardøbruktet base camp. The brilliant guys at Vardøbruket (the local fish ´factory´) deserves a special thanks for helping us when the storm set in. They provided us with shelter on their site, and fish to feed the hungry gulls. Top guys! Also thanks to Unni´s Kafé for hosting the Gullfest opening talks! A very big thanks goes out to Vardø superfixers Tove and Birger, you made the niceness possible. We also owe a big thanks to everyone who visited and those who followed our event online too! Thanks for support and encouraging comments. 

For more Gullfest: rewind to 2014 and have a look at last years Gullfest tour around Varanger.

Stay tuned at Biotopes twitter or facebook for more Varanger niceness! 

Vardø town aerial

Thanks all!

from the Biotope office / Gullfest team 
Tormod Amundsen, Elin Taranger & Alonza Garbett