In 1999 I lived in the city of Bergen, Norway. A beautiful place, but Europe’s wettest city due to the warmth of the gulf stream hitting the cold air of the mountains that lie beyond. In an attempt to create something positive out of the abundant rain – I tinned it. The rain was sealed inside a sardine tin and was marketed, along with rain-themed postcards, jewellery and access to a website called Bergen Rain.
I worked with a Danish friend, Karen Rasmussen, who believed in my idea and struggled with the awful weather too (see the statistics above). Karen was inspiring to work with, and gladly rang a local fish canning factory and demanded an evening on the production line, when we would capture the essence of olde Bergen town in 7000 brisling tins.
Mission accomplished, we stored the precious rain in our small apartments and launched ourselves as purveyors of finest rain – taking a pitch at a market, only to have our blue velvet cushions heaped with golden boxes laughed into the nearby fjord. Undeterred, we managed to stock the rain in tourist shops and get up the nose of the local hoteliers and tourist bureau – who wished to portray the town as basking in sunshine for 365 days of the year, not raining for 250. We entered into a gloriously heated debate in the local newspapers and consequently generated a huge amount of publicity.
Eventually realising their value as a conceptual piece of art; the remaining 6500 cans were successfully entered into the Vestlandets Udstilling / exhibition. The hoteliers of Bergen were beyond despair.
The final part of this project began whilst living in California, and one day receiving a phonecall from BBC Science, they’d seen my website and were making a documentary about Wild Weather. Information from my website, and a tin of rain, were featured in the first episode: Wet
The rest is history, but not quite. Tantilisingly, here’s the weather forecast for Bergen today