Not the Iceland I had in mind…

Well, it’s been a month and its strange the things you miss.

I missed London’s Chinatown not for any spectacular or elaborate meals  just the lunch staple of Crispy Pork & Chicken on rice, decent pub carvery lunches and pie, mash & liquor.

What do I miss about Iceland?

Definitely the quiet, I miss the kids coming to check on the artists, I miss going into Reykjavík to meet friends for drinks, I suddenly missed those rectangular biscuits filled with vanilla flavoured cream today, chocolate with liquorice in it, hot dogs, Appelsin, bitafiskur and even Fiskbúðingur!

I miss the sea and the open landscape and the big skies that fire the imagination.

So where am I?

I’m back in England dividing my time between Hatfield and London…

 

On the road again…Sauðárkrókur to Vík to Jökulsárlón Part One

I got to drive three different cars during my stay and I think a big part of the pleasure of it is that there is no traffic on the ring road. Its only in the city where you have the bane of driving…other people!

As some of you may know, this was my third visit to Iceland and there was still one place I hadn’t been to and have to admit to being very jealous of others who had made it there.

At some point in any stay in Iceland you will see pictures from Vík and Jökulsárlón advertising a trip or in any guide book. Jökulsárlón has also been used as a location in Hollywood films.

So on Thursday morning, September 29th, I left Skagaströnd early in the morning for Sauðárkrókur to rent another car. It felt a little like leaving like a thief in the night as I didn’t physically get to say ‘bye’ to some people but also knew I’d see some of them in Reykjavík before I left Iceland.

I made up an itinerary of sorts that would take in both places and casually noted other places along the way that I wanted to see. Joining me on this trip was one of the September artists, Annika.

It takes approximately three hours and a bit to get to Reykjavík by car depending on how many stops you make along the way to either take photos or to go to the toliet.

The drive down was pleasant enough and the weather held with a slightly overcast sky with some drizzle.

We stopped in Reykjavík for a quick lunch of lobster soup at the harbour in Saegreifinn – The Sea Baron. They also have fish kebabs ranging from cod, redfish, plaice, shrimp to whale and other catch as well veggies. I had the whale and a potato kebab by way of a congratulatory dinner back in August. I think I had lobster soup there at least 4 times in 2 months.

Then it was back onto the Ringroad heading in the direction Vík, a prelude of the upcoming weather was to come as it turned wetter and more windy. It is those times that driving becomes a lot harder than just driving on a different side of the road although that’s not so bad when there’s so little traffic. However, the monotony of the wipers and the inability to see what’s around you is taxing and hypnotic and almost sends you asleep. At times the ‘psycho’ mode of the wipers came into use. In England its pretty rare that we use ‘psycho’ wipers, you all know the setting…when the wipers seem to be moving comically fast.

One of the amazing things about driving in Iceland is that you’ll find yourself suddenly driving alongside some amazing landscape that invariably will amaze you. The first place I stopped at was suggested by Ólafía, the residency co-ordinator and Annika woke up slightly dazed but in turn amazed by Seljalandsfoss.

It drops 60 metres, 200 feet over the edge and has the added wonder of letting you walk behind it…

A little way on from here is another waterfall Skógafoss, different and no less spectacular but in a different way. It has the same drop as Seljalandsfoss but is much wider at around 25 metres and the water appears almost as one white fast moving curtain.

Rain does make for interesting pictures…:s

Just to prove I was there!

Then it was onto Vík, we did pass Eyjafjallajökull, yes, that one, the one that grounded everything in 2010. The rain was getting worse as was the visibility and we arrived in as most things were closing and went to the only place that was open…a grill at the petrol station.

I had the Commissionaire’s Burger which consisted of bacon, ham, burger in a bun topped with a fried egg accompanied with fries and fried vegeatables and drunk with an Appelsin. I did manage to eat all of it, guess I was hungry!

Then it was onto the hostel which we eventually found after a false start and by driving back to the petrol station to confirm the location as being down a short curving gravel path.

The rain continued to lash down and the wind was not exactly howling nor whistling nor singing but making its presence known to all…

Kálfshamarsvík

Close to Skagaströnd is Kálfshamarsvík a small cove that at the beginning of the 20th century held a small settlement of no more than a hundred but was abandoned at the time of the depression around 1940. No matter how many times I see them in Iceland, I am fascinated and amazed by basalt columns. More often than not the cross-section is that of a hexagon.

There is also a lighthouse there striking in its stark whiteness and height. Sadly for us the weather was bad and the wind really was stingly cold on the hands and so we stayed only for a short time.

(Not a ninja mission or a scene from ‘Brazil’)

Open Studios 22nd September 2011

As the month draws to a close and many of us pack or have already left the studio, I find myself a little reflective although I know I will see a lot of these people one last time on Friday in Reykjavík at how lucky I was that I had the opportunity to meet a diverse group of people from around the globe.

Last Thursday we held an Open Studio and the studio was cleaned and each person put out work either in progress or finished in their space. It was a fairly good turn out and interesting as well for us to meet some faces and to receive feedback on our work.

We had been unprepared last month for a visit on the Open Studio date and I wish that we could have been more in the state we were this month when a party from Baer came to visit. We managed as best as we could and I met one artist Emma Lindsay from Australia and then through an evening class pamphlet that had a name that  was clearly not Icelandic, I also met Vicki also from Australia who I saw on her blog knew Emma. Does that make sense?!

I was fortunate to be able to meet Vicki at her home and to hear the amazing change she has taken in moving to Iceland from Australia. I also learnt another Australian term…’sea change’. I seem to pick up Australian-isms (that’s for Emma who loves -isms’ ;)) each time I’m in Iceland. There’s ‘Servo’ from Joseph, that’s petrol station or gas station if you don’t know. My favourite still has to be ‘Doona’ from Christopher in Melbourne. I first heard ‘Doona’ via text message when I was asked to get his ‘doona’ from his room. My reply was ‘WTF is a doona?!’ It’s actually nothing more sinister than a duvet.

So I was very pleased when Vicki came to the Open Studios that evening to see what we’d been up to…

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The artists from September were:

Annika Bastacky | American | annikabastacky.wordpress.com
Ben Borden | American | myspace.com/solaryear
Dario Lazzaretto | Italian | dariolazzaretto.it
David Ertel | American | myspace.com/solaryear
Hideki Arichi | British | hidekiarichi.weebly.com
Ingeun Kim | South Korean | ingeunkim.com
Joseph Breikers | Australian | breikersacres.roxer.com
Lily Angotty | American | litlarottan.blogspot.com
Matthew Shelley | American | matthewgshelley.com
Mia Hochrein | German | miahochrein.de

There are more pictures at http://neslist.is/ from Ingeun.