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Sortland panorama Hurtigruta Foto Torgei



Urban Heritage: We want to strengthen the content or presence of art in urban spaces by hosting artists during residencies, by including both the bygone and present-day “urban public places”.

DEADLINE: You are past the deadline




Residency: 10 days x 2

First stay: May 2022

Second stay: October 2022 

  • Fee: 7,000 NOK each stay, for you to have

  • The project will cover travel and accommodation costs

  • A car can be hired upon request

  • Curatorial support and collaboration with local partners

Any professional artist, regardless of gender, region or religion, are welcome to apply.  We invite established as well as emerging artists, curators and writers. Also practitioners from any art-related discipline, cross-discipline practices are welcome to apply.


Jennestad handelssted

Tekst på blå bunn - Kunstprosjekt med un

Writing on a Field of blue


A century ago, Sortland was described as a “church site with 33 dwellings and 254 resident dwellers”. At that time, the outer side of Vesterålen was much more important, and the proximity to the ocean was the basis for fishing and boat traffic. Sortland became important when communications changed and included much more steamship transport through the Sortland Sound, and later, the development of land-based traffic. Sortland gradually became a regional hub. Towards the end of the 1970s, Vesterålen became united to an even greater extent by bridges, whereas the islands had earlier been linked together by ferryboats. 


Sortland’s rapid growth has changed the city, and many of the old buildings are gone. Today Sortland has three large shopping centres that concentrate activity in the urban centre, but also create challenges and a somewhat chaotic urban landscape. Sortland faces the risk of losing traditional meeting places that are important to identity and social exchange. AiRV wishes to contribute in the development of Sortland while at the same time bolstering the urban centre’s “soul” with art.


Sortland anno 1940


Many think that Sortland needs an aesthetic and environmental facelift and a clearer identity. In 1998 artist Bjørn Elvenes launched the idea of the “blue city”, and this became Sortland municipality’s millennium project. The project provoked a public storm, but little by little, the city became bluer and bluer, year by year. The concept was intended to improve public spaces and create a basis for creativity. Some of this creative power has been expressed in Writing on a Field of Blue. Young people from Vesterålen have worked together with author Lars Saabye Christensen in a creative, poetic joint effort that has embellished the blue façades with a word, a line or a poem. As the city was adorned with more and more blue façades – increasingly more pages of the virtual, outdoor book were written.  Writing on a Field of Blue has also served as an inspiration for children, artists, architects, urban developers and arrangers of festivals and cultural events. We wish to revitalise the blue city and firmly believe that new expressions of art can contribute towards this.

Centrally located on the city square in the Blue City, the sculpture «Havsøye» [Eye on the Sea] represents a part of Artscape Nordland. Nearby, on Bankgate, we find the street art project “Dream of Sortland” by Linda Zina Aslaksen an Tina Aslaksen.


8 km outside Sortland lies Jennestad -a formerly active trading post with a general store, a shipping agency and post office. It’s heyday was during the first half of the 1900s.  Today Gallery Jennestad is a respected art gallery that arranges exhibitions featuring national and international artists; the main building is also used for concerts during summer.  In the wharf building, the original environment has been conserved and is an important vestige of Sortland’s commercial history that one can experience here. 


AiRV can assist in the creation of a feeling of renewal of the Blue City – an invitation to creativity and development, but also conservation of our collective memories and traditions, along with a stronger commonly shared identity. Perhaps it is possible to draw parallels between the encounter with the old trading post and the modern urban commercial hub based on one’s own experiences and perspectives; maybe one can see connections between urban traits in Northern Nordland and those of other “peripheral” areas of Europe. An expressed wish that the artistic expression chosen will lend itself to affiliation with the European Cultural Capital 2024 and with Boundless Vesterålen 2024 and that the main focus will be on children, adolescents and young adults as «modern Europeans in the North».

WORKPLACE: Kunstnerhuset in Sortland, Jennestad Handelssted and the city of Sortland 

RESIDENCE: Kunstnerhuset [The Artists’ Residence] in Sortland

Application closed
Kunstnerhuset sett nordfra Foto Trond Ga


Photos by: Sortland museum, Sortland kommune, Alf Oxem

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