Poppets, lovelies and dear ones,
I have been sitting on this blog post for rather a long time. I am unbelievably behind and have had a few photographic issues, but here, on my last full day in Iceland,
is the next April instalment. In order to catch up a little faster, I have kept to the essentials, but without documenting EVERY LAST DETAIL- you may even be grateful for this editing! So let’s begin the whistle stop tour…
Once Mum left, I hit the studio pretty hard. I had less than two weeks to make the deadline for the application and as usual I was “pulling a Kimi”, i.e. setting myself an enormous impossible amount to do, in a really short space of time. I had decided in my wisdom that I wanted to begin a whole new strand of work, and that this would form a large part of my thesis proposal. Because I work best under pressure right…?!?
Long studio days and late nights were the only way forward and the time flew. It really was a team effort; Emander (an Australian writer and artist) and Una proof read the written element, with Una also advising me on my portfolio; Eira (a Finnish artist and film maker) dished out hugs and told me to go to sleep when she heard the tap of keys and saw my light was still on past 1am; and Jonathan and Yasser sat with me and made ceramics whilst I sculpted, encouraging me to keep going with their supportive presence- they also cooked for me every night and when I arrived back late and drained I was buoyed by spontaneous and hilarious interpretive dances as well as impromptu made up cleaning songs.
Balancing the work and written element of the application was tricky as my project was very much ongoing. When I needed help with my photographs, everyone got on board- behind and in front of the camera and with feedback. And it was fun- especially heading out with the guys- wearing the heads- I hope everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did! I felt truly thankful to have this wonderfully supportive bunch of people, who a few weeks ago had been strangers, right behind me.
I won’t go into lots of detail on this platform (I will save that, and the documentation for my actual art website! www.kimitayler.co.uk) , but the work itself and extension of the rock drawings I had made in March, and is based in the idea of building community in an isolated location . A lengthy process (some of which you can see in the images below) in which time I almost “build” a relationship with the heads as they come to life; they are then worn in a form that is performative and active within the landscape and by the community that inspired them. Through the images documenting this I have begun processing their identities and interacting with the Rockfaces. It is all evolving and ongoing at the moment and I my plan was to finish the first stage of the project by the time I left the Factory.
During these two weeks the snow also came again. It was a very beautiful, and welcome interlude. Though any plans for stripped back photographs felt like they would have to go out the window. Coming over the top of my winter boots, (over 2 feet on low ground- much more further up the hills and mountains), this was more snow than I’d had in my time here. And I was thankful I hadn’t succeeded in convincing Mum to take my winter boots away with her (not that she had room in her tiny hand luggage!). It came and went fairly quickly, but not before Jonathan, Yasser and I had a chance to have a proper snowball fights, and the boys made snow men- I believe for Yasser this was a first.
Essentially all the residents are just passing through, but I know during my time at the Factory, some left more of a mark. Yasser was definitely one of these. Enthusiastically embracing everything Iceland had to throw at him. He and I were kindred “Pollyanna”‘s- he didn’t even know about the Glad Game- but he played it like a pro. 🙂 Despite my focus heavily being on my work and visitors, my time living with him and Jonathan was definitely been some of my happiest.
Two days before my deadline (19.04.17) I was also treated to, what I didn’t know at the time was, my last “proper” northern lights for this season. Still working at 2am had some advantages! Feeling the draw, I wrapped up and went out. Managing to rouse one companion, Hong joined me and we lay back on the grass. It was a spectacular show. White, green and purple. In the midst of all my self inflicted stress, I thought to myself “I am so very lucky”.
Deadline day (21.04.17) also coincided with my second visitation of the month. I had been planning to try and get my submission completed a few days early so I had time to chill and prepare for my impending guests, but in typical Kimi fashion this did not happen. On four hours sleep and having read and reread my proposal hundreds of time, and with the support of Una and Rosa I braved hitting send.
It was an instant relief and setting out to collect my friends Amalia and Nicole, in glorious sunshine, music blaring, I felt euphoric and all set for a spectacular weekend (despite the lack of sleep!). Seeing familiars and sharing my experience was really been one of the highlights of my time.
Scooping up my dear friends, we talked CONSTANTLY the whole journey. And I laughed only in the way you can with people who really know you. I heard about their adventures in Iceland, told them about my strange new life and caught up about with everything that had been going on at home. And the long journey around the east fjords (my favourite part of the roads) wasn’t so long and with the weather being so spectacular really did not disappoint. Amalia and Nicole were staying Kirkjubaer, the converted church (the Moomin church as it has been referred to!) which is now a hostel- a beautiful setting nestled in the mountains. But it was a quick stop and settle as we had an important social engagement…
Amalia, who is Italian had a hot date with some pizza and jam! In a huge cultural betrayal, and to some alarm (!) I think the face in the photo below shows her unexpected enjoyment. Maybe it was just the acceptance of it as a completely different food group(!)…I still think chicken on a pizza is contentious issue but maybe, jam is ok!
On Saturday we had a long lazy pancake breakfast and then walked and talked, (with an obligatory hotdog interlude) awaiting the arrival of Chris. It was strange and wonderful having familiars in my Stöðvarfjörður bubble. Chris arrived with a hitchhiker he’d picked up- she came in to join us for a cup of tea before heading onwards on her journey. I was so proud and happy that Chris was embracing the Icelandic cultural norms and in addition helping a stranger in the way I was helped when I arrived. Definite karma points for Chris 🙂
With a full set, and having been given wonderful gifts from home (3 jars of marmite! Screen, and chooclate), we set of for a hike. We drove down to the bottom of the fjord and headed towards one of the waterfalls. We ended up at a river where we all looked for stones, and they got to see just how much I had embraced this new hobby of mine, as I pawed over rocks and entuiastically held them out for inspection. By the time we headed back everyone was laden with pockets full of stones- and they seemed almost as excited as I was with their discoveries.
That evening we had dinner together at Kirkjubaer, and drank Brennevin, a traditional icelandic spirt- best known as the accompaniment to fermented shark (which thankfully- we did not have!) Having not had more than half a can of an evening, maybe only twice a month, I was pretty concerned that my tolerance levels for alcohol could prove problematic- so I was exceptionally careful but still managed to get suitably silly. We played cards and waited for the northern lights, popping out regularly to check. Although we had a little bit- unfortunately it was not the light show I had had a few days previously. But I like to think the quality of the conversation and general hilarity proved a reasonable substitute! Right guys?!
Sunday followed a similar pattern with a lazy breakfast before an excursion. We headed to the sea geyser which was suitably spectacular and on photogenic form. Amalia and I hung back whilst Nicole appeared to be doing her best Harold Bishop impression (c.1991!) in inching closer to the edge for a better look, much to Amalia’s dismay. Thankfully we all piled back into the car unharmed and rewarded ourselves with another hotdog.
More walks, a spaetzle lesson from Jonathan and another night anticipating the aurora followed. Again we saw a little- especially on the drive over to Breiðalsvik, but more of an overall green glow rather than dancing skies. BUT, fear not dear friends- this just means you will all have to come back over and visit me in Reykjavik in the hopes you may see more next time!
We had an especially windy drive back to the airport (after an even more especially windy night- I don’t think there was much sleep had in the draft old church) but the sun shone as Amalia and Nicole bid farewell to the fjord. We had time for a walk in Egilsstaðir, some car based Icelandic eurovision karaoke ,a last hotdog AND an ice-cream before they flew west, Reykjavik bound. I was so happy they had come to visit- where I had been living really was very remote so to trek all the way out to see me- what extraordinary friends I have!
Chris made one last trip to Stöðvarfjördur with me and spent a fair amount of time geeking out with Vinny in the studio. It was the monthly artist talks and once again it was a really great evening- and once again strange and lovely to be sharing this event with a home person! One last meal before I finally had to say goodbye to my last visitor. Like when Mum visited- I couldn’t quite believe this event that I had been so looking forward to was over. But I was pleased to have shared a little of my experience. But I suddenly felt exhausted. A week of virtually no sleep, an application, entertaining, and emotional goodbyes had taken it’s toll. So it was time to crash out.
But the goodbyes weren’t over- they were in a now familiar pattern form, only just beginning. Eira and Peter left on Wednesday (26.04.17). And after 9 months at the Factory Peter’s absence was definitely going to be felt. The house certainly felt quieter, and Yasser, Jonathan and compensated by singing and dancing our way through the week. We enjoyed floor picnics accompanied by the musical stylings of Queen, Abba and Disney soundtracks (much to Emander’s disgust!). And we enjoyed the longer evenings and incredible sunsets- it even felt springlike!
On the last Friday of the month (28.04.17) I got news from the Art School- I had an interview- the following week. All the hours and sleepless nights had been worth it. But now I had to prepare for an interview!! SO i had to make last minute plans to head west. Emander also had a trip to make so we decided to hire a car and make a week of it- and there was planning to be done! However, there was still time to celebrate Yasser and Hong’s last night- with an impromptu karaoke party. The highlight being the rap battle that took place- Germany vs. South Korea. Jonathan vs. Hong. Jonathan was pretty great- but I think we could agree that Hong’s rendition of a track called 8.45 was the surprise winner. She killed it! And on that note (!) April drew to a close.
A very bleary eyed goodbye to Yasser the following morning at 5am didn’t quite hit me until later. Jonathan and I were certainly going to miss him! But we tried to have a cosy day together complete with necessary comforting spaetzle before I set off once again, to Reykjavik.
To be continued- very soon- I am already preparing the next instalments!
Much love and TTFN,