Kråkeslottet / Senja, Norway

for all kinds of artists

About cod, whales, and Tango Argentino… plus a lot of arts and culture north of the Arctic Circle

A magical place is unfolding my eyes after driving for 2.5 hours from Bardufoss airport to the very end of the island of Senja in Northern Norway. This former little fisher house near the village Bøvær used to haul cod since 1899. Later on, it was purchased by a well established owner of a factory in the region, Ulf Knudsen. He not only was a successful entrepreneur, but he also loved music, literature and all forms of arts, always in close contact with artists and inviting them over. An oil painting in the living room still shows his portrait.
Ulf Knudsen passed away with no descendants, so close friends took over the stewardship of the house and also the art supportive ideas. The names of these men are Kitte Nordstrøm and Georg Blichfeldt who transformed this house to an AIR, determinedly and with great care.
More than ten years ago the fish production was closed down. Since then the gangways and racks, the terrace and roof have been rebuilt with enormous efforts, preserving what makes this building so special.
It now harbours spacious common areas including a grand piano, a café, a stage/theatre space, micro-apartments and tiny guest rooms of about 4 to 6 square metres. They are created and designed individually in an astonishing and charming way by the administrator and manager Georg Blichfeldt himself, using local and recycled materials for construction only. One bedroom for example has a roof showing the universe’s blue skies painted on an old church door. Looking down, a rhomboid glass part cut out of the wooden floor releases the view down to the sea, waves hitting the timber piles. The latest bedroom of the by now more than 25 sleeping places in this small house was built on the backside of the facade as a cube with thee sides glass only. So, when the waves are high, you feel like inhaled by the ocean. All infrastructures are provided by the Norwegian system, also the Internet works perfectly. Even if this place seems apart from civilisation: It is not!

This artist residency is so far up north that in November/December you can watch whales swimming by right from the kitchen window. The large kitchen table was manufactured by Siberian timber that was drifting in the sea for several years, provably having orbited around the North Pole at least twice. This is the beach next to Kråkeslottet. Incredibly tempting turquoise-blue waters and fine sanded white beaches make it unbelievable that also in July the water temperature is low, just above zero degrees. Even though, the climate is quite mild compared with the midlands further inside the country in the Målselv
region where winters of -40°C constantly are absolutely normal. Also hard to believe, the head of AIR, Georg Blichfeldt (in the centre of the photo), is a pretty good dancer of Argentine Tango.
In case you are up for a Midsummer nights-Tango (like me) at a place where it’s not getting dark between May and August, you are always very welcome!
Maybe you are as lucky to meet the Sweden born musician Lena Jinnegren there, performing traditional and Norwegian style Tango from her album ‘Glød’, singing and playing the grand piano. I felt so honored when Lena also presented some not yet released new recordings.

Art and music festival
During the whole month of July an art and music festival called ‘ArtiJuli’ is taking place showing the richness of Europe’s north end culture. As a visitor you don’t necessarily need to leave and drive back after a concert or a performance, but can stay over in one of the small guest rooms and hidden beds. For more info on the festivals’ programme, check the website or Facebook (both in Norwegian only).

The kitchen table
A pretty, about six metres long kitchen table at Kråkeslottet invites to sit together. Georg Blichfeldt carpentered it himself. In the video below he tells and shows how he did it. And Espen Prestbakmo, expedition guide and location scout for film productions, living in the region of Målsev, explains why and how Siberian tree trunks drift around the North Pole for several times before stranding at the coast of Northern Norway. The wood shows special patterns and an individual surface created also by salt water worms, leaving black graze holes.

Detailed info on the website and on Facebook (both in Norwegian only).

Photos: A.M., Kråkeslottet;
Interview with Georg Blichfeldt, 20th June 2014.