Pictorial portrayals of the northern regions have been influenced by myths and superstition ever since the Middle Ages. Up to the mid-1800s, nature was generally looked upon as ugly and forbidding. District Governor G.P. Blom, who traveled throughout northern Norway in 1827, was noted for having said "Lofoten is so bare of beauty as possibly can be." It was first under the guise of Romanticism, at mid-century, before any real artistic portrayals of the northern provinces surfaced. And the big breakthrough came about with the appearance of the Norwegian artist, Peder Balke, on the art scene. There were many Norwegian artists who paid visits to Lofoten in the final years of the 19th-century. Lofoten, with its singular light, thus became an icon of northern Norway's natural beauty and untamed splendor. The tension between older romantic notions of what art stands for and a more modern artistic expression has characterized the artistic portrayals of the northern regions in the last half of the 20th-century. Artscape Nordland (Skulpturlandskap Nordland), for instance, is an example of a bold project that readily illustrates this at the end of the second millennium.

   © University Library of Tromsø - 1999.
The Northern Lights Route is part of The Council of Europe Cultural Routes. The Cultural Routes are an invitation to Europeans to wander the paths and explore the places where the unity and diversity of our European identity were forged.