I have just finished my first week here in Skagaströnd and it’s been better than ever expected. The town is quiet yet leaves you with room to think about your practise and roam around the surrounding mountains, the studio facilities and housing are very well equipped, the locals and fellow artists are lovely and the views out to the Westfjords from the town and coastal villages are breathtaking.
I’ve spent the first week here adjusting to the slow pace of life again, reflecting on what has been an intense year and then connecting to what it is I would like achieve and focus my practise on. It is a different level of time where everything is measured more slowly, it’s been a much needed adjustment and has left me with the space to really connect with nature again and the thinking behind my visual art work whilst being constantly inspired by Iceland’s wild raw mountains.
The weekend involved a mixture of settling into studio life, setting up and starting off a new series of drawings. I ventured out on a hike around the coastal cliffs around Skagaströnd, where the land meets the sea in this unique fishing town and spent a good few hours drawing on site, exploring the secret bays that erode into the sea and watching the mountainous snowscapes of the Westfjords far off in the distance. The light at the end of a clear day is overwhelming here, the golden hour where the sun sets significantly earlier and earlier every single day casting a glow over the bright weather beaten style buildings that lie dotted around the shore. I’ll be spending my winter period through this and I’ve been told by the locals that the shortest day of the year is the 21st of December when there is only 2 hours of sunlight, yet it is still very much a subdued twilight glow.
There is an immeasurable level of more free time here yet it’s interesting how quick it fills up with things that truly matter to you. Reading, walking in the mountains, learning, cooking, painting, things that matter so much yet sometimes get overlooked in the modern over stimulated world.
I’ve also spent time throughout this week walking along the long black sand beaches that are north off the town, filming and listening to the wild arctic seas, walking by the wild Icelandic horses, late night studio chats and focusing on my new paintings directly connected to the land up here, lying out on the grass late at night away from the light pollution underneath the most breathtaking views of the Northern Lights. So far I have seen them on 3 separate nights in clear view, bright green and purples cast full over the sky and I’ve been told it’s been the best of the year so far. I’m looking forward to seeing more and more and documenting them as much as I can.
On Wednesday we took the bus to the nearest town of Blönduós, and then onto Sauðárkrókur and further east to the Northern City of Akureyri. The journey itself into the North East peninsula of Iceland was tremendous and the mountains rise and rise forever surrounding the road as it weaves throughout the valleys. We spent a good few hours in each place and learning more about the culture, hiking and capturing the land!
Lastly, on Thursday, I successfully climbed one of the mountain ranges that surround Skagaströnd called Spakonufell which is an impressive rocky mountain that lies above the town. The terrain was quite rough, it was very windy yet the views out to the Westfjords and surrounding mountains were completely worth it!
I’ll be using this blog as a visual and written diary showcasing what I’ve been up to weekly throughout my time as artist in residence in the far north of Iceland, I’ve also included some of my photographs that I’ve taken here of my wanderings throughout this first week, please let me know what you think. Now that I’m all settled here it’s time to get on with the work! Updates next Friday!