Two elderly brothers, Harald and Mathias Ramen, who lived together in Tessanden, a small hamlet in rural Norway, preferred to share their days and years isolated from much of the rest of the world. They chose, instead, to live in a humble, old-fashioned manner, enjoying nature and each other’s quiet company.

Norwegian photographer, Elin Høyland, befriended the brothers, and with their permission, photographed them in their daily routines over the course of several years.

The resulting series of photographs is magical and charming, while at the same time it depicts a disappearing way of life. The photos are filled with love and compassion and have a serious, but sometimes humorous, tone. This work has just been released as a lovely photobook, with an introduction by Gerry Badger:

“Harald (75) and Mathias (80) had always lived on the smallholding in which they were born. Neither had married. Mathias once worked in Oslo for two months, but hadn’t liked it, whilst Harald spent one night, ‘the worst of his life,’ he would say, in a hotel in Lillehammer, some three hours away.

“They’d worked for an electricity company, as loggers and also as carpenters, but now much of their time was taken up just managing firewood for their home. As Harald said, they chopped wood, carried wood and burned wood. At least twice a day, they also fed wild birds in the twenty bird boxes that they monitored. Their days followed a predictable and comforting routine. In their free time they listened to the radio or read the local paper. In the 1960s they rented a TV for a one month trial but returned it after deciding that it took up too much time. Little changed from year to year, though Mathias once said that changes were happening the whole time and it would probably end up with them getting an inside toilet with
running water.

“Harald died from an asthma attack while shovelling snow in conditions of –20°c. Mathias continued to live alone in the house until he moved into an old people’s home. He died in 2007.”

Highly recommended.

—Jim Casper

The Brothers
by Elin Høyland
Introduction by Gerry Badger
96 pages, 45 duotone photographs
Publisher: Dewi Lewis Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-907893-08-7
Size: 31 x 23cm
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