Jenny Gilbertson in the Arctic

I am a Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities (SGSAH) PhD student  at Stirling University  and Glasgow School of Art  researching the pioneer documentary filmmaker Jenny Gilbertson  who filmed crofters from Hillswick and Heylor in Shetland in the 1930s then in the 1970s - when she was in her seventies - the Inuit communities of Coral Harbour and Grise Fiord in the Canadian Arctic. 

I am fundraising for my Arctic Fieldwork, which will take place from June to December 2018. This will see me travel to Grise Fiord  to hear the experiences of those that Gilbertson lived and filmed with while making a film about life in Grise Fiord 40 years after Gilbertson's Jenny's Arctic Diary (which you can watch here  courtesy of NLSMIA). This film will be submitted along with my written thesis before being re-edited for broadcast and/or cinema distribution, scheduled for 2020.

This research hopes to explore Gilbertson's unique approach to filmmaking based upon friendship and will ask what contemporary documentary filmmakers can learn from Gilbertson. If there is a benefit to the people in Grise Fiord it may be a reconnection with the film Gilbertson made about them, their families and their community. Furthermore, this research will help create a shared knowledge and full account of Gilbertson’s filmmaking in the Arctic, something that can be further examined and developed by others.

I need to raise around £30,000 to complete this fieldwork. So far I have raised around £10,000 thanks to SGSAH (who have funded me to get there and to spend my first month with a tutor getting a better grasp of Inuktitut), D.C. Thomson & Co. Ltd . (my first employer) and to the very generous and ever-encouraging folk of Bigton in Shetland  (where I grew up). I have applied to foundations and trusts for another £10,000 but need to raise a further £10,000. 

The money I raise here will
- pay for 4 months of my accommodation in Grise Fiord including heating and internet: around £4,400
- let me train and pay young people in the settlement to operate and carry my equipment and pay the locals I accompany in the hunt for food. Gilbertson used to do this: around £2,000
- feed myself and others. I will arrange for food supplies to be shipped to Grise Fiord. Food is scare and eye wateringly expensive  in the Arctic  . I will of course support the local Co-op  but I have been advised to send food up, enough for me and extra for feeding the people I am filming and working with. Again, this was the Gilbertson way: around £1,000
- very importantly, allow me to travel to Whale Cove to see the family who were very dear to Gilbertson and helped her make her films in Coral Harbour. Flights are so expensive; this trip in itself will cost £2,600.

Apart from the food I get shipped, most of these funds will be spent in Nunavut, contributing to their economy.

As a thank you everyone who funds this will be sent an Arctic ringtone. It may be a beluga whale, a walrus, the Arctic winds, huskies - or all of these things. You will also have the option to sign up for email updates from the Arctic and will be invited to see the film when it is exhibited at Stirling University or Glasgow School of Art. 

For those who send £25, I will send them a postcard from Grise Fiord.

For those who send £50, I will send them a print of a photograph from the Arctic.

For those who send £100, I will send them a hand painted or drawn or stitched something or other from my time there.

People who send more, well, if I don't already know you I will be interested to hear more about you so I can think up an interesting way of saying thank you.

Nakurmiik (ᓇᑯᕐᒦᒃ) Thank you.

Photo by Alan Richardson


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Shona Main 
Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom

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