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Aspects of traditional life across the Russian Arctic

Taken by British photographer Bryan Alexander, this exhibition of 40 photographs reveals aspects of the lives of the Chukchi, Dolgan, Even, Khanty, Komi, Nenets, and Nganasan people, showing how they live today in their native communities, their traditional camps, transportation and dress as well as activities such as herding, hunting and fishing.

This series of striking images includes a herd of 1,000 reindeer being driven across the tundra in Khanty Mansiysk; the Northern Lights over a Nenets reindeer herders camp and Khanty women in traditional dress in Pitlyar.

The vast size of Siberia, combined with the isolation of many of its northern communities, has ensured that these unique Arctic cultures have survived to this day. Only a minority of Arctic peoples still maintain the old ways, but traditional activities remain important both culturally and economically.

Whisper of the Stars

The name of the exhibition, Whisper of the Stars, comes from Sakha Republic (Yakutia) in Eastern Siberia, where the extreme winter cold creates a strange phenomenon.

When the temperature drops below the mid-minus 50s Celsius, a soft whooshing sound can sometimes be heard, like rice or grain being poured. This noise is caused by the moisture in one's own exhaled breath turning to ice crystals in the cold dry air. The native Yakut people call this the whisper of the stars.

About Bryan Alexander

Bryan Alexander specialises in documenting the life of the Arctic's indigenous peoples and the issues that affect them.

In 1971, he used a Royal Society of Arts travel bursary to visit North West Greenland. There he lived in a small Inuit community for four months, which began a lifetime of documenting the Arctic and its people. Bryan has spent more than ten of the past 43 years living in isolated native camps and villages around the Arctic.

Bryan has worked on numerous book projects. He was assigned to take the photographs for two books in Time-Life's Peoples of the Wild series, Hunters of the Polar North and Masked Dancers of West Africa. His books include, Inuit Hunters of the North (Colour Library Books), he Vanishing Arctic (Cassell) and Journey into the Arctic (Oxford University Press) and 40 Below - Traditional Life in the Arctic (Arctica Publishing).

Copies of the book Forty Below – Traditional Life in the Arctic, by Bryan and Cherry Alexander, can be found in the Horniman gift shop.

You will find more of Bryan's work on the website www.arcticphoto.com

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