Life in the forest is an art
Living in a forest cabin without electricity, water and sewage all year round certainly makes Sara Forsström stand out from the crowd.
- "I have always worked from nature and now I am also living my dream by living in it," says the Skellefteå-based artist.
It is heavenly beautiful to drive along the Kåge Valley, especially now when the autumn leaves do everything to trump the brown surroundings in all unimaginable colors. Kågedalen is the collective name for the towns of Kåge, Ersmark, Kusmark, Sandfors, Storkågeträsk and Hebbersliden with surrounding villages. When you have passed the picturesque farming villages with names taken from a Torgny Lindgren novel, and it becomes even more sparse between the properties, that's when you should turn off to Sara.
The exit is so small that it barely exists. The forest road then leads straight into the forest and over a stream where we have to step out and test jump on a wooden bridge to make sure it is possible to drive a car. It sways, swings and bends before it is over.
After a kilometer we see something like a roof through the pine trees. And eventually Sara.
- Welcome, you found it!
The Finnish Lapland dog Tjarvva is Sara's only companion, and perhaps the Sami dog's name, which means harvester, can give an indication of what the snow situation will be like this winter. She "doesn't want to pull a snowmobile" but relies more on herself and her cross-country skis to transport supplies to the cabin from the highway.
- "Of course it's going to be a challenge, and there's a lot I have to do before the snow comes, such as transporting more firewood," says Sara.
On the outer wall of the storage room hangs a cleaver that gives away what Sara does during the day. The blisters on her hands reveal even more.
And the piles of wood in the storeroom mean warmth. The saying that self-cut wood warms you several times is undeniably true.
But how does a 35-year-old girl from Kusmark end up in such a remote area? A tent purchase led her to geek out on lightweight hiking and the idea of a long trek was always there. A life on the move in a minibus was also an option. The answer was a cabin in the woods.
- "The ultimate combination of my dreams of a simpler life close to nature," she says.
A little further up the pine hill, her parents own a log cabin.
- "I've been in this forest so many times as a child and it's almost always been a dream of mine to own a cabin, and I've used my mom and dad's cabin as a reference. Without electricity and sewage, as cheap an operating cost as possible and as little as possible that can go wrong," says Sara.
But the decision to move from life in central Skellefteå to the forest has a more detailed answer. There are probably many people who would like to do as Sara did, to take refuge in the forest to the silence and a simple existence, but few people take the step from their squirrel wheel.
For Sara, it was all the more simple.
- 'I have never been part of the squirrel wheel, I am 35 years old now and have been a professional artist for ten years. Sure, I've had extra work during that time, but it's usually been as a result of external pressure. I've worked in shops, in logistics and most recently as a parking attendant. It's been useful to get to know new people, but I've felt quite unhappy in the role anyway, having 'musts' so far from what I feel is my calling," she says.
- In the end, my partner at the time told me that "you have to quit the extra jobs if you don't want to stay unhappy", and that helped me to take the plunge and actually make that change. I'd rather live poor, actually. But now it's starting to slow down a bit with the artistry and I've been getting a lot of inquiries.
Is living out here an art project or a life project?
- Life and art go together for me. It feels like a natural consequence of my artistry. I really only work from nature so it feels wonderful to live in the forest. From now on it will be my studio," says Sara.
Friends, colleagues and acquaintances - she is surprised at how many people have praised her decision. And not just hunters and outdoorsmen.
- "I think it's a bit of a sign of the times, that many people long for something simple and manageable.
During the fall, Sara installed a window above the sink and will also install a soapstone stove that will provide plenty of heat.
- "I've always found it easy to work with my hands, I think it's related to my life as an artist," she says.
And lighting a fire in the sauna this winter and stepping out into the snow with the starry sky above the pine tops will be a work of art in itself.
THIS IS SARA
Name: Sara Forsström
Family: Mother, father, brother, sister, one-year-old Lapland dog Tjarvva and cat Sten.
Lives: In a cabin in the forests of Kågedalen.
Name on Instagram: sara_forsstrom
The meaning of an off-gridder: Someone who lives in a home that is not connected to any of the main amenities such as electricity and water, preferably in a desolate location.