List of Works
1-4. Thalassa i-iv, 2016, graphite drawings surrounding gelatin silver photographs on fiber based paper, 60 x 61cm
Each work accompanied by 
musical performance via high resolution audio recording,
composition and performance by Cheryl E. Leonard.

5-8. From the series She is Always Beautiful, graphite drawing surrounding pigment print photographs on hahnemuhle, 42 x 59 cm
9. 
Rainforest Drawing i-ii, charcoal on paper, 32 x 59 cm & 42 x 59 cm, private collection

10. Rainforest Drawing i-ii, charcoal on paper, 32 x 59 cm & 42 x 59 cm
11.Untitled, 2017, charcoal on paper, 20 x 30 cm
12-14. From the series 
She is Always Beautiful, graphite drawing surrounding pigment print photographs on hahnemuhle, 42 x 59 cm

15. Graze, 2010, reflected light, gold, platinum, steel, watercolour on paper 76 x 56 cm
16. Lightfall, 2010, reflected light, gold, platinum, steel, watercolour on paper 76 x 56 cm
17. From the series She is Always Beautiful, graphite drawing surrounding pigment print photographs on hahnemuhle, 42 x 59 cm
18-19. From the series Harmonia, 2007, gold, platinum, watercolour on paper, 10 x 14.5 cm
20. Dive, 2010, reflected light, gold, platinum, steel, watercolour on paper 76 x 56 cm
21. Drift, 2010, reflected light, gold, platinum, steel, watercolour on paper 76 x 56 cm
22-24. From the series Harmonia, 2007, gold, platinum, watercolour on paper, 10 x 14.5 cm
25.
Resplend, 2010, reflected light, gold, platinum, steel, watercolour on paper 76 x 56 cm
26. Rosemary Dobson and Genevieve Swifte, the poem 
Spires, single page from Poems to Hold and Let Go, 2009,
unique artist book, letterpress, hand printed with whiteink on Gampi, Asian stab binding with horsehair, 24 x 62 cm
27.
North East South West, artist book, letterpress, hand printed with whiteink on Gampi, Asian stab binding with horsehair,

collection of the State Library of Queensland
She is Always Beautiful
On the Arctic Landscapes of Genevieve Swifte
Helen Maxwel

The world is a compelling place – always a challenge to our imaginations. Genevieve Swifte was already immersed in the challenge when she was accepted for a residency by the Museum in the small island town of Upernavik in Northwest Greenland. The Upernavik Museum is the northernmost museum on the planet and by all standards remote. From Australia the journey takes several days in five planes of diminishing size. When she landed in Upernavik in October 2010, Swifte found herself in a community of about 1200 people and many sled dogs, bound by ice and sea.

She wrote of her first response to this extraordinary environment “Greenland took my breath away and rendered me speechless. Like an Arctic vipassana, once I was settled into my little red house next to the museum I fell absolutely silent”.1

This ‘silence’ was about not having the language to decipher that which was so unfamiliar. She did not remain ‘silent’ as she began to explore the terrain, accrue information, enjoy the warmth and generosity of the people and interpret the icy world around her.
Greenland is the world’s largest island, 80 per cent of the surface covered by a lens-shaped ice sheet which at its thickest in the centre, extends approximately 3.2 kilometres to the rock bed beneath. Towns of varying sizes inevitably hug the very edge of the coast from where people continue to hunt seals and fish for halibut and in some areas when the weather permits, pursue limited growing of vegetable crops. Greenland has been the subject of much research and speculation in relation to the effects of climate change. For some, the rising of temperatures and the melting of icebergs presents the opportunity for increasing self-sufficiency and independence as its rich resources below the sea can be extracted. Others fear that such developments will adversely affect the environment and the culture.
In such extreme environments the weather is always of vital concern. The Greenlandic (Kalaallisut) word for weather is sila.2 It is a potent concept because sila, also meaning “the air” and “intelligence/ consciousness”, links the individual self and the environment through the breath. Sila is the basic principle underlying the natural world and exists in every person. Change in climatic conditions can affect the individual in a deeply personal manner and destabilise the way in which they understand their relationship to their world.3
Within this context, surrounded by a harsh yet beautiful physical environment which is always changing, but increasingly so because of global warming, and a complex traditional culture that is facing erosion, Swifte has responded by producing a series of very personal works, which record her wonder and respect.

The exhibition,
She Is Always Beautiful, Drawing and Photography from Northwest Greenland, comprises a series of photographs and photographs with drawing, of the icy terrain around Upernavik and the larger town of Ilulissat. Implicit in the works is the sense that the landscape is changing. In black and white the images are starkly graphic. There is a stillness that belies the constant movement.

The photograph Allorneq, To Step 1, 2010 takes us along a winding wooden walkway that disappears in the distance between two folds of lichen covered rock formations. The walkway leads to the edge of the Ilulissat Ice Fjord, and at the line where the black ground meets the stark white of the ice cover beyond, there is a tiny structure that appears to be a bench on which one may sit to contemplate the vast and beautiful ice that stretches out below, further than the eye can see. Allorneq, To Step, 2, 2010 places us at the edge of a small inlet, the shiny black of the icy sea and the rocks sparsely covered with vegetation. An iceberg floats close to shore. These images incite desire and sensation. The landscape is remote and strange to us – even disquieting, but the experience is intimate and inviting.
The series titled Upernavik combine drawing with photographic images. The drawings are so delicate and detailed in the rendering that the photographic image appears to be a slightly tinted fine transparent film placed over the drawing. The effect is of ambiguity. It is hard to tell whether the photograph overlays the drawing or replaces the drawing. The edge of the photographic image also acts as an aperture through which we see a more distant, vaster landscape that softens and disappears into the expanse of the white paper, allowing our imagination to travel further.
In another series, Sila, that refers to the vitality of the relationship between the weather and the self, Swifte experiments with capturing the changing conditions of her immediate environment often through the window of her little red house next to the museum, from where in warmth and safety she was witness to the external force of nature. Included also in this series are images of icebergs that play with light and form and the slip between what we see and what we think we see. In Sila 08, the iceberg appears to be a massive bank of white marble, implicit in these images is the knowledge that nature is elusive, beautiful but dangerous and not to be taken for granted.
The works which Genevieve Swifte has produced as the result of her residency in Upernavik encapsulate a growing knowledge, both tentative and certain. The images are testaments to an inquisitive excitement and respect, and a measured consideration of the formal subject matter before her.

–Helen Maxwell, 2011

1  Genevieve Swifte, Hunting for Ice, Breath of the Soul, Antarctica and Music Conference, The Australian National University School of Music, 2011.
2  Mark Nuttall,
Arctic Homeland, Kinship, Community and Development in Northwest Greenland, University of Toronto Press, 1992, p. 41.
3  Mark Nuttall,
Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, Scientific Report, Cambridge University Press, 2005, p. 655.
 
Arising from residencies at the Upernavik Museum, Northwest Greenland and the Photomedia Workshop,The Australian National University School of Art, this project has been supported by the ACT Government, the Australian Government through the Australia Council, it's arts funding and advisory body and with generous donations made through ABAF's Australia Cultural Fund.
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