The nature. On the plane on the way to Iceland (if you fly Iceland Air which I recommend), there are lots of fun videos about this country. Many of them are about how to enjoy and protect THE nature. I love that they use an article to set apart the monumental importance of the landscape and living things here.
One of the most important things for me when I go on an artist residency is that it is somewhere where I can spend a lot of time outside. My work is inspired most often by my experiences in the outdoors. The north of Iceland was a perfect spot for me to spend time away from daily distractions gathering ideas for new work.
Here are some images of what I’ve seen so far (minus the yarn).
The residency is in the north of Iceland, a small town called Blonduos. The Textile Center used to be a women’s school and the hallways are lined with old photos of the classes of women who graduated (along with random additions of small children who belonged to instructors). The building has beautiful studio spaces and residence rooms. There are many other activities going on at this center, the artist residencies are just one part of what they do here.
The landscape is primary in this environment. The large windows of the house I’m staying in look out at the mouth of the River Blanda and past that to the Greenland Sea and open ocean. The moods of the water change with the weather and it is endlessly fascinating to watch the colors shift, the grow or calm waves, the tide rise and fall, and the sea birds ride thermals right in the front of the windows. The Arctic Terns are coming back to complete another 60,000 mile cycle in their migration. They are chatty and sound a bit like they’re nagging each other sometimes.
This beach is near the harbor in Blonduos. There is black sand and frozen waterfalls and the tide was low so the rushing out of the water sounded like a rain stick as the little pebbles knocked against each other. I saw my first seal from this beach.
On a clear day you can see the West Fjords across the bay. Just to the right of the land you can see in this image is the open ocean.
Exploring the landscape of Iceland
Exploring rural northern Iceland by car and foot. This was the day after a good snow and I felt like I was above treeline in Colorado.
I am fascinated with all the small things also. There is lichen everywhere and the colors are fantastic. The grass is just starting to green up and there is moss poking up through the dead grass here and there.
The animals of Iceland!
So far the most notable besides all the birds are the horses, the seals, and one flock of sheep. The horses are friendly and this flock came up to us when we stood at the fence. I’ve seen a couple seals right around Blonduos, but we took a trip to the next peninsula where there are some beaches they typically haul out on and found a healthy group of them sunning themselves on sand bars at low tide. The only horses and sheep on the island are Icelandic. There will be no cross-breeding here!
The sheep seem to mostly still be in the barns, but this flock was hanging out in the pasture. We should see some Icelandic fleece in person with a farm visit in a week or two.
The Light in iceland
The light here is indeed magical. I suppose anyone who has lived in the extreme north or south of this planet knows about this, but those of us who live in the middle of the globe don’t have the same knowledge of how different the light can be. The sun dips below the horizon at sunset and sunrise making long long periods of twilight. Since it is April, the days are getting longer very quickly. By summer solstice, the sun will only set very briefly at this latitude just south of the Arctic Circle.
We have had many sunny days since arriving. On those days we’ve gone exploring or hiking, finding horses and mountains and seals. On the rainy days like today, I’ve been spinning and weaving. Translating the feel of the light into weaving is going to be a challenge!
The Northern Lights
I’ll leave you with some images of the Aurora Borealis. The last one was from a night where the moon was fairly bright. I’ve stayed up many nights, later and later now as the days are getting longer very quickly, in the hopes of catching them one more time. These images were taken with my iPhone handheld. Click to see full images.