Poppets, lovelies and dear ones,
As I am going away for the weekend I thought I would post a little early (especially as I seem to have so many photos this week!), and then of course you’ll get an EXTRA blog shaped treat early next week once I return from my adventure- you lucky people! I do spoil you…
On Sunday evening (05.03.17) we came together to discuss plans for a potential trip further north the following weekend and to watch a film. The sitting room, which had relatively little use last month, made a really cosy little cinema. The chosen film was ‘Of Horses and Men’- an Icelandic comedy in the truest sense. Meaning it was blacker and more bleak and horrifying than traditionally funny. It is a beautifully shot film, with a lot of humour in its cinematography, and I found much of it pretty hilarious, laughing loudly in the relative silence of the room (*Reminiscent of when I saw ‘Rams’ at a picture house in London and was the only person in uncontrollable fits of the giggles in the cinema much to the embarrassment of my friend Bruce!) . It certainly wasn’t and wouldn’t be everyones cup of tea, but I loved it. Maybe that says something more worrying about me…!
I woke up late, feeling foggy on Monday morning (06.03.17), very much out of sorts and not at all myself. As someone with a notoriously sunny disposition, grumpiness certainly does not become me! And I felt cross for allowing myself to feel bad in this place that I love so much- contaminating it with a bad mood. I didn’t force myself out of the house, and didn’t want to inflict my misery on others, so didn’t make it to the studio until the afternoon. Once there, headphones on and hood up, I started working and found myself in a real creative frenzy. I think the build up of a little frustration and grumpiness brought something out in my work- and seemingly as quickly as the fog had descended, it had lifted. I was myself once more and happy with the new direction I was going in with the drawings.
It was Claudia’s birthday, so Susan cooked a lovely fish supper, I made an apple crumble, and of course, a crown. I think I am getting something of a reputation for making puddings (or “desert” as Jonathan calls it- I didn’t correct him for a few days because I really enjoy the lost in translation moments. And now dessert will forever be known as a desert!). It was lovely to enjoy a house meal together. Still a little strange when compared to the rowdiness of the previous Monday but I felt more settled into the difference this time.
I had a good feeling about the lights, and sure enough the clouds parted, in honour of Claudia’s birthday, and gave us a show. It warms my heart and fills me with excitement every time.
Tuesday (07.03.17) was super creative in the morning. I worked on more of my rock face drawings. Each stone finding it’s own little personality, almost happening by accident or chance. Working once again in a mixture ArtGraf and gouache, they were informed by stones and rocks in my head- seemingly having spent so much time absorbing the local minerals into my psyche! But I decided I would go a’collecting in the afternoon, so I would have something more physically present to surround myself with and potentially work from.
Without a doubt the highlight of the day was the arrival of the post. Sometimes, you may have noticed, my mood if very much dictated by my stomach, so the arrival of two parcels of chocolate AND a box of 250 YORKSHIRE TEA BAGS gave me much to celebrate. I think the others were somewhat surprised by my level of joy as I hugged the precious cargo closely! Being down to my last three bags had been such a genuine concern that I had had to put in an emergency plea to the Mothership- who as usual didn’t let me down!! She’s a very good egg.
I was joined on my walk to the top of the fjord by Lilly. As always it was great to have a little time with one person. Being a big group sometimes makes it trickier to connect. And also it was cool to go to one of the places I had visited before, but with someone who was seeing it for the first time, and therefore I got to see it anew! We walked to the bird hide, Lilly took photos and I scoured the beach for stones. It’s amazing how little time it takes here, to amass an interesting and exciting assortment of minerals.
I returned back the studio with quite a haul!
I have always had an affinity and love of stones. When I was small I had a stone I called ‘Bonting’ and carried him around in my pocket- he is still safely in a box at home. In my teens when I was so ill, someone sent me a beautiful crystal which I kept by my bed and I held tightly when I was feeling sad during the long breathless endless nights. In my early 20s I had a happy stone, that someone had drawn a face on- my Mum had found it amongst all the other stones on Brighton beach. I carried him around until I got horribly drunk in a club in Reading and he must have fallen out of my pocket and on to the toilet floor 😦 I still feel sad about his terrible fate. I don’t expect his face remained happy for long… ! Before coming to Iceland Mum slipped a beautiful smooth purple and green worry stone into my hand to help me feel safe on my travels. It sits on my windowsill and sometimes lives in my pocket when it is needed. Thinking back on all this, arriving at working with stones feels personal and important.
That evening we returned to the Yellow House Cinema (as it is becoming known) and watched the ‘Hunt for the Wilder People’, which was met with universal appreciation- perhaps more so than ‘Of Horses and Men’!
There weren’t any northern lights to report, but I did get some rather strange photos of the clouds over the mountains using my aurora photo app. Day or night, come rain or shine, it seems the light always has something strange or exciting to offer.
I began Wednesday with a beautiful early morning walk with Peter. As we walked towards the sunrise it was glorious but slippy underfoot. I completely styled out a rather spectacular fall- there is definitely one good thing about always being slower than Peter, he only noticed as I leapt back up to my feet a little too enthusiastically!
I begun work on a larger stone drawing of the assortment I had collected the previous day, before heading out on an afternoon trip to the supermarket. It was such a beautiful day- a really change to my February trips out of the fjord which all seemed to have been without sun. And mostly shrouded with rain and snow! I got to sit in the front of the car for the first time and this really gave me the opportunity to see out of the window. It really was a joy to head off on the weekly shop- a statement which I never thought I would say!
I managed a little more work on my drawing, it was nice to be working on one piece and spend a little time seeing its’ progress, evolving and changing- compared to the fast paced production of many drawings in quick succession earlier in the week.
Back home, Jonathan gave us a spaetzle lesson, and with ingredients to use up, I made a fine bread and butter pudding, the perfect mix of stodgy, squashy and crispy with layers of secret marmalade and chocolate (* Jonathan has told me I should be bigging up my own cooking achievements in this blog as well as those of others! So there we are!) We all cooked and ate together, and later agreed we would have to walk a little further and longer tomorrow after such a rich indulgent feast!
Susan and I wrapped up and went to look for lights on the grass away from the street lights, outside of the houses. We waited for about 20 minutes, and when we just about to head back inside an arc of green appeared over the mountains the shape of a rainbow, and the lights appeared strong and clear across the whole sky. Realising they weren’t disappearing too quickly we fetched the others. It was hard to know which direction to look in- I didn’t want to miss anything. I lay on the grass with Jonathan and Nisa, enjoying the best firework display nature could provide. I didn’t care that I was cold (* I did a little later on!) ! And I even managed to hold steady long enough to get an only ‘semi-blurred’ picture. March has so far been a wonderful month for the aurora. I am so lucky.
As I lay in bed that night, I felt so spoilt having had such a day. Such treats for the eye-tummies as two of my dear friends would say! The aurora gave me one last little wave, through my bedroom window (!) from over the mountains and I fell asleep.
After such a high day on Wednesday, Thursday was glorious but I was really missing home- probably the most I had done in the whole (almost) 6 weeks I had been in Iceland. It is the longest I have ever gone without seeing my Mum, and I have always had a big, crazy extended family of friends as well as close family- whom I was also missing greatly. I have always been something of a home bird, so I knew such a long trip would be challenging. Homesickness was to be expected at some point.
I worked in the morning and managed to stay chipper, and then distracted myself with a trip to the stone museum. Having worked exclusively from and with stones in mind this week it felt a good time to reconnect with the collection. I was able to enjoy the garden, as it was bordering on spring-like. The stones looked beautiful in the sunlight- even though they have not yet received their annual clean. I still couldn’t believe Petra had collected all of these, and most she had transported all alone. She really was an extraordinary woman- a day late but I quietly wished a happy ‘International Women’s Day’ to an exceptionally wilful, headstrong and passionate international lady.
Back in the studio, I worked on my drawing, adding more faces inspired by the collection.
After a couple of hours I headed back to the house and was hit with homesickness in a big way. At that moment it came from nowhere but had been building up all day and just hit me like a brick wall. I called Emma for a pep talk and was soon back on track- I was still missing people, but I felt so lucky to have my best friend at the end of the phone, and to be in this wonderful place. She sent me on my way, walking to one of my favourite spots to collect stones with instructions to take photos to send her.
A cosy supper of leftover spaetzle and bread and butter pudding with my Lingholt family (Jonathan and Peter!) was the antidote to what I think had been a tiring/draining day for us all. I was just about ready for the day to be over and an early night, but then I got an alert from the Yellow House Cinema. I was invited to watch a documentary film on Dieter Roth- a German Swiss conceptual artist who lived and worked in Seyðisfjörður (one of the potential destinations on our weekend trip, and somewhere I have been dyeing to go to) and where his academy is still based. I joined the dots and remembered that I had seen one of his shows at Camden Arts Centre a few years ago. It was really interesting and a great insight into a really enigmatic and charismatic artist who was completely captivated by Iceland- a fellow stranger in this strange land. A positive end to the day.
Today (10.03.17) the homesickness having subsided, I have worked on my drawing- I was really hoping to finish it before the trip but with one thing and another (and a blog to write!) I haven’t quite got there. I am pleased with the progress though. Tonight we go to Brekkan for pizza- it has been two looong weeks and I have a definite craving for jam! Then tomorrow morning, nine head north- destination Akureyri via the mysterious lake Myavtn. Weather will dictate our passage, but we have hostels booked and a vague plan of where we are going. I return on Monday- no doubt with tales to tell- and a blog post in its own right!
TTFN, much love,