A Guggenheim Fellowship / by Shaun O'Boyle

cropped-cropped-6433918107_7e4586992b_b-11.jpg

I received word last week that I’ve been named a Guggenheim Fellow in Photography. It is an honor to receive this fellowship, which provides a grant, and an opportunity to continue work on the Portraits of Place project. In July I’ll be traveling to Spitsbergen in the far north of Norway to work in the field. Despite being well north of the Arctic Circle, the weather during the summer in Spitsbergen is relatively mild, temperatures rarely go below freezing in July and August, compliments of the Gulf Stream. The town of Longyearbyen is located on the island of Spitsbergen, a small Norwegian community complete with schools, grocery stores, restaurants and hotels etc. It has a year round community supporting a variety of local industries including science, a small university dedicated to Polar studies, mining, and tourism. The Global Seed Vault is located here. This isolated community is in the great wilderness of the Svalbard Archipelago on the edge of the Arctic Ocean, with the North Pole only about 800 miles away.

Spitsbergen provides relatively affordable access to the Arctic, complete with a long history of polar exploration, science, hunting and mining, with the related landscapes, architectural remains and abandoned towns. I'll be exploring and photographing locations around the archipelago with the help of local guides. More details to come as plans solidify. Like the Antarctic project, I will be posting on this blog with project updates, so stay tuned.