East of the Sun and West of the Moon; Old Tales from the North, New York: G. H. Doran, illustrated by Kay Nielsen (1922 edition).
There was an appetite in the early twentieth century for luxurious collections of children’s stories, often bound in gold-toothed vellum, to be given as gifts.
Brilliant artists of the day including Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac were commissioned to illustrate them.
Perhaps one of the finest creations to emerge from this golden age of illustration was an edition, first published in 1914, of East of the Sun and West of the Moon which boasted twenty-five colour plates and many more monochrome images by Kay Nielsen, a young Danish artist who had studied in Paris before moving to England in 1911.
The compendium consists of fifteen fairy tales gathered by the Norwegian folklorists Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Engebretsen.
Translated into English by George Webbe Dasent (1817–1896), the stories — populated by witches, trolls, ogres, sly foxes, mysterious bears, beautiful princesses and shy country lads turned heroes — were praised by Jacob Grimm himself for having a freshness and a fullness that “surpasses nearly all others”.
The Great War interrupted Nielsen’s career and he never quite reached the same heights as an illustrator afterwards.
But his work did embellish some further collections of stories, notably by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen.
In his fifties he moved to Hollywood to work for Walt Disney and some of his illustrations graced the “Night on Bald Mountain” and “Ave Maria” sequences of Fantasia (1940).
He was let go by Disney in 1941 and spent the final sixteen years of his life in poverty.
Originally printed in London in 1914 Nielsen’s East of the Sun and West of the Moon saw a number of reprints over the years and decades, most recently in 2015 when Taschen published a glorious edition with three accompanying essays (illustrated with dozens of rare artworks by Nielsen), exploring the history of Norwegian folktales and Nielsen’s life and work.
Think Norway, and the first thing that comes to mind are fjords, blonde people and Vikings – not fairy tale architecture.
Below, you’ll find photographs of architecture in the Norwegian countryside that looks like it’s been taken straight from a fairy tale.
The architectural styles range from Stave churches, which were built during the Middle Ages, to ghostly natural waterfalls and traditional wooden houses constructed in the Norwegian vernacular style (byggeskikk) during the 19th century.
Rising temperatures and increasing ice melt are transforming the island’s of Svalbard in Norway’s high arctic.
The WWF-Canon and Norwegian Polar Institute Arctic research expedition 2014 looks at how the polar bear population is adapting to the effects of climate change.
One of the big threats for polar bears today is the effect of climate changePolar bears don’t live in the centre of the Arctic, by the North Pole; they live along the edges of the ice, where they can find seals.
They depend on sea ice, on which they can hunt seals, rest and breed. Due to the warming climate, summer ice continues to decrease and is also melting for a longer period, preventing polar bears from going out to get food.
They must swim or walk longer distances to keep track with the shrinking ice.
Photograph: Brutus Östling/WWF-Canon
Glacier ice differs from the sea ice as it is old ice. Glaciers consist of layers and layers of snow that has fallen over thousands of years. Just like sea ice, glaciers are melting during Summer.
But while sea ice usually disappears completely around Svalbard, the glaciers tend to melt just a little bit; however, today some glaciers are decreasing very rapidly due the climate change.
Photograph: Brutus Östling/WWF-Canon
The researchers not only earmark, but also weigh the bears, if possible
This female, weighing only 90kg, had lain down gently with her head on her arm and seemed to sleep very calmly after being tranquilised to enable the researchers to approach her. Photograph: Brutus Östling/WWF-Canon