Weeks 9, 10 & 11

An overdue update!

A lot has happened in the past 3 weeks since leaving my last residency at Nes in Skagastrond and it’s went in very very quick! I’ve been working as artist in residence with Listhus Art Space with 24 other artists from around the world for just over 2 weeks now!

The location of my current residency is a town right on the North tip of Iceland called Ólafsfjörður, the town is home to around 800 people and has the largest mountains that I have ever seen which surround the whole town. It is right on a fjord which opens up to the arctic sea and I regularly take a walk to the beach where you can look out to the ocean and know that there is no other land until the north pole. It is here where I realise how impressive and truly wild this place really is. To add to this, I have also never seen so much snow in my life, it snows constantly here leaving even more breathtaking views, and even some of the houses around here have started to disappear under the mounds of it!

My time here in Ólafsfjörður started off with some of the worst weather Iceland has ever witnessed. High storms, avalanches and hurricanes, in fact I was told the hurricane that hit us at the start of December was the worst one to hit Iceland in 25 years. I arrived here on the 3rd of December at night and spent the first two days stuck indoors because of the harsh weather, there was an epic white out and I had no idea how magnificent the surroundings of this place were until 3 days into my residency! Wild, raw, powerful, elemental, all of these things which truly heighten an experience and what make Iceland so amazingly beautiful yet terrifying sometimes!

It was a few days in right among these infamous Icelandic storms where I had possibly the best surprise of my life. A large number of my family showed up on my doorstep, in one of the northernmost towns of Iceland, all the way from Scotland. They had been planning the surprise visit soon after I left Scotland back in October and it was a complete pleasure to spend the first week of my time here in Ólafsfjörður with them especially since the residency had only begun and I was still getting to know the place myself! We spent the few days in the amazingly located Brimnes Cabins which are in the town, taking shelter from the storms and even playing cards by candlelight when all of the electricity in the town went out for a few hours on the eve of the hurricane! I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my time anywhere else with anyone else!

Later that week we witnessed some of the most impressive northern lights that I have been lucky enough to see since arriving in Iceland, it was even more special being able to watch them with my family who had never seen them before! I’ve included a few of my photographs from that evening further down in this blog! One of the most incredible experiences to happen to me on that particular evening was bumping into the guys at Arctic Surf who were staying in a cabin close to us. Arctic Surf are a group of professional photographers and surfers who instead of surfing in the expected warm climates of our world, choose to document their surfing experiences and travel in the cold, northern and remote parts of our earth. Getting to meet my favourite photographer Chris Burkard whose photographs you should really check out was a particular highlight! They invited me to join them that evening to document the northern lights so we drove down in their jeep to the remote black sand beach in our town where we spent a good while under the aurora in the impressive fjord inlet! I would urge you all to check out what Chris and the team at Arctic Surf are doing as the photographs and ideas they are producing are truly unique!

The rest of my time here has involved welcoming my amazing friends from Scotland who travelled up to Iceland for my birthday, spending a few days in Akureyri which is the city of the North and getting to know the other 24 artists who I am working with on this Listhus Residency for the Skammdegi Festival. Here is a list of the participating artists in this unique and remote residency! http://www.listhus.com/listhus-skammdegi-air-award.html

The past two weeks here have also allowed me to get to know the place, adjust to my new surroundings, spend as much time as possible outside when the weather and light allow it, and document the beauty and overwhelming environment of the mountains right on the edge of the arctic sea.  There have been a few days here where the temperature has plummeted to minus 20 degrees and on average we are losing about 7/8 minutes of light per day. The sunrise this morning was at 11:51am and then set at 2:33pm, there is no sunlight as the mountains which surround this town are high above the suns peak. Yet the drama and impressive elements of this place make up for all of it and whenever there is on average of 3 hours of blue light per day I try and get outside to walk in it to take in the surroundings of the arctic winter.

The rest of my time here leading up to my third week has involved meeting with the local Junior College to discuss future workshops in January to coincide with the Listhus Skammdegi Festival, spending a lot of time in the local outdoor swimming pool which is geothermal heated by the surrounding mountains and thinking about my projects here and starting to produce new work in my studio in Listhus!

I’ll be updating more often now with my current practise in my residency and with photos here and there of this epic place! It is now Winter Solstice in our northern hemisphere so the days will start to get lighter from this day on. I’m sure this residency and location will bring with it some fierce and temperamental wild weather but the views and location of this magical place here in the north sure do make up for it!

I’m heading back to my homeland of Scotland tomorrow for a week to spend some time with my family and friends over the holiday and then will be back up in Iceland from the 29th of December so lots of updates then, until then here are some of my photos of the surrounding landscape here at Listhus!

 

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