Galya Morrell, 1961, is an explorer and adventure artist.
Following the steps of her Northern ancestors, Komi reindeer herders and Pomor mammal hunters, Galya Morrell lived and travelled in the Arctic for over 30 years. Under the stage name ColdArtist, Galya explores the limits of the body and the possibilities of the mind, working in a rare genre of visual synthetic performance on the drifting sea ice. In her art she successfully fuses the tradition and modernity, the indigenous and the exotic. Most of her exhibitions were born as portable and nomadic. They have travelled the world on a reindeer, Yakutian Arctic horse, by dog-sled, donkey, camel, tractor and in a small open boat, moving between the smallest and hardest-to-reach settlements in Siberia, Greenland, Africa and Central Asia.
Together with Greenlandic polar explorer and actor, Ole Jorgen Hammeken, Galya co-founded Expedition Avannaa, an eyewitness cultural expedition to the world’s most isolated communities affected by climate and societal change. It offers a unique view of the people and their natural habitats in the hardest-to-reach places that otherwise stay invisible to the eyes of decision makers and general audiences worldwide.
In 2015 Galya and Ole Jorgen Hammeken co-founded Arctic Without Borders, a citizen diplomacy initiative with a mission to establish a dialogue and to build cultural bridges between circumpolar smallest communities through collaboration and knowledge exchange.
Galya co-founded several cultural projects whose main mission was to prevent the epidemic of juvenile suicides in the Arctic regions. In her artistic and educational work, she wants to make sure that Arctic traditional knowledge, culture and heritage identity are not only preserved, but also nurtured.
“Arctic is such a special place: here nothing obstructs the horizon. Here you can think without words. Here the elements, daily and nightly, sparkle your imagination. Here you are surrounded by the most courageous people who don’t complain about their circumstances, don’t “struggle” against the elements, but instead work with them, making the best out of the forces of Nature," says Galya.