Truande [looming]

The sea is steely grey and reflective, hard and animated.

The bus carries me out of the town, past the place where I was shown how to pull a trigger and swing a lasso, past the place we moored a boat and attended a small camp-fire party one pleasant evening, past the steps to Kjepso, past the spot where they are building a new tunnel: the machines at peace today because it is Sunday.

A pause in Kvandall to meet the ferry and then it’s off again towards Granvin where the fjord is narrow and the mountain face on the far side is so sheer that there is no road. The trees cling to the mountain and reach up and up towards the sky. They run out of soil before they reach the top where the exposed rock is blanketed only in cloud, not tree. The rain darkens and weighs down upon everything.

As my departure date approaches, the sculptural mid-summer bonfires along the shores grow bigger.

Susan hughes artist (Ireland), Messen, Ålvik, artist residency , Norway

This is a link to Susan´s Norwegian blogs:


rain on the fjord, photo Susan Hughes


I awaken dreaming of home where waves crash white on a beach, dramatic and full of light.

Here, far inland from the open sea, the waves lap.

Today the fjord is calm and the sun shines. The air is sweet and I drink it up in long breaths marvelling at its taste, so clear and sharp it cuts through my body. After much standing and looking I peel off my Doc Marten boots and layers of tights and socks. My soles grip the warmed rock as I scamper across and down to a small pebble shore, one of the few places where the water is accessible. The water in the shallows slips over my feet, cold and fresh. I stand still, breathing. A larger-than-usual flock of seagulls flies over me. I wonder if they are agitated by something.


photo Susan Hughes

I hear a sound, much like the sighs that come from the factory, but from out on the water and not so far away. Porpoise, I guess excitedly as I look over to see sleek black forms breaking the surface coming around the corner of the huge rock which continues the mountainside deep underneath. Up come the fins: one, two, three. Two adults and a calf tucked in close. No, definitely bigger than porpoise. Dolphins? These move slower than dolphins. They breathe again, shooting up a spray indicating a big set of lungs. I am confused. The sound their breath makes in this stillness is larger than anything I have heard from any other creature.

Instantly a memory shoots into my consciousness out of forgotten depths. I am in Knut’s car, driving along the winding roads, though tunnels in rock as he drives us to play in a concert in a small Folkets Hus on up the fjord. I am asking him if he has seen the porpoise. ‘Oh yes’, he says, ‘and the other ones, the whales’. ‘Whales? No!’ I say, incredulous and jealous. ‘Yes’, he replies cooly, ‘these ones with the black and white. I have seen them’.

Jesus, I now think, could these be orca? And there, a head moving a little bit more out of the water to reveal a clean white mark against the black – the marking of an orca. It must be. I cannot believe it.

All through the years, all those hours standing on rocks just like this looking out at the sea hoping, wishing to see a whale; here in the Hardangerfjord, or in Donegal, at home in Down or in Kerry, in England, Spain or on the log-filled beaches of British Columbia, always dreaming, seeing them only ever in my dreams.

And here they are, three at once, passing me by and disappearing.


Susan Hughes from Ireland

Susan wrote a lot about her experience in Norway on her blog: