Artist: Dr. Monica Kristensen
We are not only welcoming a glaciologist, meteorologist, but also polar explorer and crime novelist. Kristensen had her Master in Polar Administration and PhD in Antarctic Glaciology from the University of Cambridge. She is also the author of many books, including Mot 90 Grader Syd (Towards 90 Degrees South) (1987).
Kristensen is particularly proud of the Founders Gold Medal for Antarctic Research given to her by the Royal Geographical Society in London.
For more information about her: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monica_Kristensen_Sol%C3%A5s
What is your professional art form?
I am a scientist with degrees from Oslo and Tromsø Universities (Mathematics and Physics corresponding to Bachelor and Master/PhD) and University of Cambridge, UK (Master in Polar administration and PhD in Glaciology)
My art forms in Polar matters are literature, history and photography.
How and why you ended up with polar regions in your art? What was the triggering point?
My interest in the Polar regions, its nature, people and history is the trigger point.
What are the main polar themes you generally focus on?
I write documentary books about polar mysteries (What is the background to the mining accident in Kings Bay in 1962, What happened to Roald Amundsen and the other French, Italian and Norwegian men that disappeared in 1928). I also write crime fiction about mysteries in the small towns and research stations in the Polar regions.
Have you ever shared your work with an audience, as in-person or online exhibition?
My books are translated into many languages. I travel a lot. I give lectures in various languages. I am also interviewed in radio and television, and films.
What was the most interesting reaction to your art?
When I travelled in Italy and Switzerland, I gave many lectures about the cooperation between Roald Amundsen and Umberto Nobile to big audiences. The Italians were very interested and moved by my stories about the airship Italia and her fate. Some of the people started crying, because they had heard so little about these topics.
What is your opinion about the challenges being faced in the polar regions?
In my view, mass tourism is a threat to the polar environment. The polar regions are lonely places and the birds, animals and sea creatures are used to the peace and quiet. They are all greatly disturbed by the invasions from the cruise ships. I think that regulations must be put in place.
The environmental and climate change problems concern the whole planet, but of course, also the polar regions. It is a much more difficult problem to solve. However, some things can be done: Forbid the use of plastics, in particular single-use plastics!
How did you benefit your art during the current pandemic?
My work as a writer is a lonely one. I can´t say I was inspired by the onset of the pandemic. I have been hindered by the restricted access to the various archives and libraries. But this will also pass.
Do you have any person/figure that inspires you?
It is a bit of a cliché, I suppose, but the Norwegian academic and polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen inspires me. In particular his book In Northern Mists from 1911. He is always so clearheaded!
What would be your advice to the polar enthusiasts & researchers who like to use art as a tool to share their research?
I would like to encourage any scientist who would also try an art form as communication. This can only be good. So, my advice is: Go for it!
© All pictures created by Monica Kristensen