XXMiddle Battery

XXA photo story of yet another cross-atlantic project



Since 2007 I have been a recurring temporary resident of Newfoundland through AiR programs offered by the Pouch Cove Foundation, The Rooms/Terra Nova National Park and the Tilting Recreation and Cultural Society, and supported by the City of Dortmund, Memorial University of Newfoundland and the German Foundation for Canadian Studies. The related projects dealt with historical, cultural, and geographical connections between the so-called Old and New World. (See project links at the bottom of this page.)

Through my own ongoing travelling between Germany and Newfoundland, a new and personal connection across the Atlantic has built up over the years, which has now resulted in the Middle Battery project: Middle Battery Road is the street in the provincial capital St. John's where my partner and I have purchased a small old house in late 2015 which we are still busy refurbishing.

This page evolves with the work at Middle Battery Road and the experiences related to creating a second home across the Atlantic. It will give an artist's view onto this personal project that has emerged from my professional practice.





February 1st, 2016: Arrival on The Rock



Map of The Newfoundland Centred World (which is actually rather a St. John's centred world map) on Signal Hill where the first transatlantic radio signal was received by Guglielmo Marconi in 1901


Wall art by former homeowner



You know the place is not exactly overcrowded with fellow countrymen (or women) when your bank welcomes its customers in 9 languages and your own is not amongst them...



Stripping the interior of the house after getting rid of the chimney


Stripped Striped


Ad for our application for a small extension in the weekend issue of The Telegram from March 5th


Our piece of The Rock: Bedrock under the groundfloor of the house, seen from the basement


March 28th: Foundation Day - we had concrete delivered for a new foundation for the rear of the house. Instead of carrying it up the steep stairs we built a slide to let it slip down from the road above.


This is a dream come true: I always wanted to have Adirondack chairs − and although these are made of plastic instead of wood, they are standing on our (half-rotten) deck in the Battery, St. John's NL!


April 11th, 2016 − end of Episode One: The house is now statically stable; and our extension was approved by the St. John's City Council two weeks ago.


The return flight to Germany took me on a detour via Newark, so we passed above Newfoundland again on our way to Europe from there.


When I opened the blinds after a nap on my flight to Newfoundland on June 23rd, I could see the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula and the site where, in the 1960s, archaeological evidence for a Norse presence in North America was found, pre-dating Columbus by around 500 years. This starts Episode Two.


We spent our first night in the house on June 27th, 2016 − we call it our wooden tent.


It's great to experience a second lilac and chestnut blossom season at the end of June / early July. Right: Canada Day fireworks on Quidi Vidi Lake


Very first attempts of creative gardening within the construction zone


A young moose on the loose in the St. John's Harbour, right beneath our house


Pinhole in the floor − and the name giving battery above the harbour on a foggy, sunny, soggy, funny day


Foam art and power performance.



Blueberries picked at about 5 min from our house − and the view from the berry patch


September 2016: The art of plumbing and some furnishing have converted our wooden tent into a cabin.


Posting this from back in Dortmund, I already miss this view. The creative gardening experiments proved successful, but the fruits will have to be harvested by others.


For more than half a year now, the harbour webcam and the monthly power bill have been the only live connections to our second home...


Waiting for our connecting flight in Dublin we spent the night at an airport restaurant named after the pilots of the first nonstop transatlantic flight (from St. John's, NL to Connemara, IR) in 1919.


We have a shower! And a new window to the harbour too...


While the major work at the house has come to a halt as the construction supervisor had to leave for Germany, the basement door has been revived and a spot for the new grill was created on the deck.


Hiking south of town: Given that the oil rig from Panama appears to be under repair over there the bay is obviously more useful than its name suggests...


Since June and scheduled to be finished in August 2018, the port authority is building a 125m long new finger pier right in front of our window. It will provide two more berths for oil rig supply ships.


The construction supervisor is back, and together we created a garden installation from a torn-down wall and clapboard to be painted on a flakes-like structure. Right: New octagon window in a rainy night


September 2017 − End of Episode Three: Old extension in a new yet traditional look.


Winter 2018 − the house is hibernating and I am entering new spheres at Memorial University


June 2018 − Episode Four begins with a new hole in the facade and a new wooden outdoor installation


More cut-outs that will eventually go to the dump: preparing the corner window


Garden idyll with house part and cut tree


New resident in and around our enchanted garden; right: the old, shaky stairs will soon be history.


Swim with a view in Soldiers Pond and supper with a view through our new corner window


Exterior stairs in progress ⁄ interior stairs with hammer: a colour study


Busy harbour with well progressed new finger pier in the foreground


Not a totem pole but a post for the handrail of our new stairs; and our own car!


Purple floor, purple floor...


Winter casts its shadow: the salt mountain is piling up again


The Avalon Sea was the first ship to berth at the new pier; top right: new pier in the first snow


May 2019: A movie is being shot in our street; iceberg season's here; and not a single leaf on a tree


The construction manager has arrived in June and put his treasures on display under the stairs: 3 make-and-break boat engines; ...inside we're putting up the ceiling.


July 2019: shadow play on our new gyprock ceiling; temporarily painting an OSB wall


August: A huge dragonfly was successfully released after getting trapped in our corner window; the old interior stairs are history...


September: Part of our collection of board materials against sky/sea blue silent FX gyprock


Evening scene with the harbour crowded with oilrig supply vessels; and pretty functional kitchen


October: refurbishing an old floor is true patchwork... this concludes the 2019 episode.


2020 started with a centennial snow storm and a week-long state of emergency − without us though (photo top right by V. Tomova); the icy window is from mid March.


Signal Hill in times of Covid-19


What the City of St. John's and its Heritage Panel consider appropriate single-family dwelling dimensions in a designated heritage district


Mid-April in Newfoundland: breeding eagle and crocuses


Transatlantic commuting in times of Covid: no more than 15 flights out of Montreal on all of May 1, 2020


Construction season 2020 begins with two weeks of quarantine and what we believe to be the last act of demolition; see my quarantine diary for other activities in self-isolation


Another demo was needed (that of the old deck) so an excavator could remove all the surplus rocks and dirt from our property.


With the rock exposed, it becomes clear that our house clings to it much like an outport fishing stage.


The new deck is growing; a closer look reveals the temporary challenge of entering the house.


Spontaneous celebration of receiving a general approvement for our new deck from the city inspector



Other cross-atlantic projects:
geodesic (2007), terra nova (2011), fyrir hafvillu fram (2012), face to face (2012),
Voyage Boxed (2013/2014), The Vinland Phenomenon (2015/2016)



< overview projects