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FLOW Photofest 2023

FLOW Photofest is an international festival celebrating photography in all its forms held biennially across the north of Scotland.  We are delighted to be hosting two exhibitions in our gallery spaces at the museum and the Thurso Gallery as part of this year’s festival.

Mother Nature on a Saturday Night
Nature seen from female photographers’ perspectives

© Elen Sonja Klouman

Mother Nature on a Saturday Night is a group exhibition that explores Norwegians’ relationship with nature and challenges traditional expectations of nature and landscape photography.  The exhibition is being shown for the first time in the United Kingdom as part of FLOW Photofest.  By and with the photography collective A Female Gaze: Kaja Bruskeland – Erika Hebbert – Trine Hisdal – Sofie Amalie Klougart – Elen Sonja Klouman – Erle Kyllingmark – Tine Poppe – Pernille Sandberg –Rebecca Zeller – Charlotte Wiig – Maya Økland.


Nature as national identity

From the time of the Norwegian Romantic Nationalism movement, the ideals of Norwegian landscape have been deeply rooted in the Norwegian soul and identity as a manifestation of who we are and what we value.  The experience of the sublime, as seen in Norwegian art historical context, could be said to be portrayed by steep mountains, deep fjords, and dramatic lighting – all of which reaffirms that nature is larger and more powerful than humans – perhaps even bigger than God.  This particular cultural phenomenon – this religious-like reverence for nature – is typically Norwegian and recognised, understood, and practiced by Norwegians, but widely misunderstood by others.  In this exhibition we ask ourselves why this almost 200 year old notion is still so prevalent in today’s society, what expectation it places on its inhabitants, and the character it exposes in our culture.

In the history of artistic mediums, the advent of photography as a technique and expression coincides with the growing acceptance of female artists.  However, nature and landscape photography is still a heavily male-dominated field.  Therefore, our wish is to present a counterbalance to the male gaze within this genre, whilst at the same time to explore the Norwegian concept of nature as a culturally defining force.

The group consists of photographers from several countries and backgrounds, all of whom are residents in Norway and work professionally within the photographic fields of art, advertising, portraiture, documentary, and media.  With a critical eye, humour, and personal memories, our aim is to make an exhibition that delights, surprises, and gives pause. Some of the photographers will explore the notion that nature has become synonymous with outdoor life and sport, and question the extent to which this ideal is unique to the Norwegian national identity, thereby informing our conception of virtue and merit.  Others will assert that nature’s status in Norway is higher than that of culture, almost on a religious level. Still others feel they fail their Norwegian roots by having no interest in fjords and mountains. Yet others wish to portray their deep love for nature and their worries about climate change.

These Systems Are Not Static (2019 – Ongoing)
Jake Gatehouse

© Jake Gatehouse

Jake Gatehouse is a multidisciplinary artist specialising in photography.  His work is concerned with how photographic images exist and operate next to reality, as well as examining the role of performance in image making.  The project is an ongoing investigation into how we perceive and interact with our environment but also the implications of image making at this time of climate and political crisis.

Using a large format 4×5 camera and a mechanical self-timer.  I set off the timer and then run into water (be that the sea, river, lake, loch and so on) then dunk under before the shutter is released.

Gatehouse says, ‘Despite calling them self-portraits I don’t consider the pictures to be representative of me or of my experience. Far from it. I am more interested in the implications of what can occur from denying information in photography rather than displaying it.’

2 – 30 September 2023
Main and Small Art Galleries


Artist’s Talk by Charlotte Wiig

Part of the Scandinavian collective, A Female Gaze, will take place in the Main Art Gallery on 13 September.  Drop in session, no booking required.  No charge – donations are welcome.

Wednesday 13 September, 11am
Main Art Gallery