/19 Australia

Michael Miller

The High North

Cultural peculiarities, the built environment and questions around industrial exploitation of natural resources make up the story of The High North. Whilst creating this work I have been driven by picturesque interpretations of the natural landscapes alongside cultural subtleties created by people living in a sometimes harsh and often remote environment. Although exotic at first glance the story feels familiar when viewed from an Australian context, the grand expanse of landscape and cultural response to environment and climate creates a common narrative between these two very different worlds.

The High North has become an ongoing project for me and I recently returned to the region to travel further into the interior. Increasingly I feel at home in the North and hold great affection for the unique identity that people of the region have created.

The following selection of images represents both early work as well as new work created during 2014.

Excerpt from The High North – 2012.

_“The geographical extent of the high north is difficult to describe with certainty. The region’s scale and diversity create an ambiguity when trying to explain or classify its boundaries. Much like the Australian ideal of outback, the high north is a phrase that can be shaped depending on its intended use. The more formal classifications that do exist generally tie the region to lands above the Arctic Circle, the extent of the Barents Sea and the Euro-Arctic countries of Russia, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

For me it is the remoteness that gives the north its allure. The arctic landscape seems expansive and overwhelming at times and it is often difficult to find a sense of scale amongst the endless plateaus and distressed rock outcrops, which drop dramatically into open sea and intricate fjords. There is a feeling of inadequacy when trying to come to terms with this space – the brutal terror of bleak expanse is hard to reconcile but the sublime and wrenching beauty forces an affection that is difficult to escape. Like all remote and isolated places, the high north instils a romantic notion of wilderness that is far removed from the contrived, cultivated and sometimes genteel landscapes of more inhabited temperate regions.”_