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The Map of Northlandia

The Map of Northlandia


Hand pulled original Woodcut Print (oil-based ink on handmade cloud dragon rice paper)

Paper size: 8x10” / 20x25cm

Image size: 6x8.75” / 15x22cm


Editions of 100 + 5AP



On my first hike in Longyearbyen, the world’s northernmost town, I hiked a glacier!


Longyearbreen Glacier was right behind my guesthouse. We literally crossed the street and started hiking into the wilderness.


On my first-ever glacier hike (I did MANY subsequent ones during the official residency), I saw incredible ice formations. I couldn’t stop photographing them!


Two weeks later, when I needed to do an official map of the Northlandia, I looked through all the ice formation photos and picked one to directly translate into Northlandia’s territory.


In my world of 2084, there is only one arctic country: Northlandia. She surrounds and engulfs the north pole.


In the map border, there are arctic animals I saw on my residency trip: a minke whale, a ptarmigan and, of course, a polar bear!


*This woodcut took two days, the longest of all 24 arctic woodcuts. It is the sea ice around the north pole that took forever to carve. You need to first pencil sketch the thick lines to be left on the woodblock. Then you use a carving tool to precisely cut a sharp outline. Then you use another to start carving away the edges. Then you spend the next two days painstakingly carefully carving many layers away so that the sea ice remains white and you don’t accidentally carve away more than you intend to and scream so loud the whole boat can hear.


**Longyearbyen is a polar bear country, so it’s illegal to walk outside town boundaries without a gun. We hiked in a group with someone carrying a gun. It gives hiking and guns new meanings…


***I borrowed our leader Sarah’s polar map for this piece. She said, you can borrow it but please please please return it. It’s my favourite map and it’s not available anymore.


****I did return it.


*****Each print is original, hand-pulled and may look slightly different from the image sample.


About Northlandia Arctic Woodcuts


In Oct-Nov 2022, I went on a month-long research residency programme “The Arctic Circle” in the arctic Svalbard for Northlandia, one of the five imaginary countries in my lifelong World of 2084 project. During the trip, I sketched landscape on site on small woodblocks and weaved Northlandia narrative into the composition and carve the woodblocks on the boat and in my room in Longyearbyen, the world’s northernmost town.


The collection of 24 Northlandia Arctic Woodcuts was then be hand-printed in Hong Kong and launched in December 2022. These small woodcut prints serve as a starting point for larger works (woodcuts and drawings and more) under the Northlandia arctic narrative I will develop over the next decade.



About Northlandia


Northlandia is one of the five imaginary countries in The World of 2084, my lifelong project to portray a futuristic world in the corresponding year.


Drawing from diverse sources such as early arctic pioneer history, Inuit and Central American mythology, science fiction and children's literature, literary tradition magical realism and fairy tales, Northlandia is a surreal arctic tale of the precarious balance between human greed and the magical landscape, between the north and the rest of the world and between self-preservation and the rapidly changing climate.