Olafsfjordur, Iceland

Olafsfjordur, Iceland
Olafsfjordur, Iceland

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Art, Folk and Monsters

Here is some fantastic Art from Icelandic Artist Solvi Helgason  1820- 1895 


I love it - probably quite strange for the 19th century - I doubt Victorian Britain would have approved. 

Gretchen Pankhurst walked around Olafsfjordur today, she was glad she wasn't going here wherever it was. 


It was quite quiet but she did come across Banana Effect a group from Hong Kong who work in immersive game theatre and shadow puppetry, here she is with Onnie Chan. 


Gretchen has been doing a lot of research on Elves and the Huldufolk, she travelled around the country last week as part of her research but she still hasn't come up with anything concrete.
This is a picture of a sea monster of which there may be many around the Icelandic waters. 


Skammdegi festival was happening today with Scott Probst' work on in the guesthouse , the exhibition at Listhus gallery and a talk by Jack Duplock on folk art and it's influence on his work.
So Kaffi Klara was open again - Gretchen had a piece of apple pie as she had heard how good it was.


Here is Jodis and her Dad Helgi - the family run the guest house and cafe as well as having jobs and school, they are busy people. Helgi is a Liverpool supporter so he wasn't so happy today.


Jodis told Gretchen that when she was young they were always afraid to sit on large moss covered rocks as they were likely to be Elf rocks, she told her about the faerie rings they saw and also that faerie's were afraid of iron as it could harm them, and that people sometimes put iron above their babies cot's to protect them from the Elves. Elves occasionally steal babies by swapping them with an old elf, they look the same but are often quite wayward. These are known as changelings.


I don't know where these come from but they look interesting.

Loa came into the Kaffi to relax for a change, and Ingi came in too, as well as some Artists, a big family and a few friends.


Ingi,Jack, Laura and Noemie at the Listhus gallery.





 More work from Solvi Helgason. 


Saturday, 30 January 2016

Eat, Drink and be Merry


Now in Iceland it is the month of Porri - a traditional Norse/Viking month that starts the Friday after the 19th Jan. The month begins with Bondadagur (husbands day) and ends with Konudagur (wife’s day.) During the month Porrablots are held, traditional feasts with singing,toasts and general merriment ( sounds a lot like Burn’s night ) 
Traditional foods are eaten such as svid or sheep’s head - singed,de-brained and boiled with ears,eyes and tongue. hakarl - putrefied shark, which everyone talks about here and some of the other Artists have eaten, as you might imagine it has mixed reviews. Supposedly if it were not fermented it would be highly toxic, once fermented it is regarded as extremely beneficial to health. The taste is so strong that it is traditionally washed down with brennivin a traditional strong alcohol also known as black death, which is made with potato and caraway.



Apologies vegetarians - but this is Iceland

One story says that in the old days farmer’s celebrated the return of daylight by jumping half-naked on one foot around the farmhouse to welcome the month of porri and were then rewarded with a feast. I read somewhere else that farmers took off their trousers and sat on the ground to see if the ground were warm enough to farm !! It cannot have been this early on in the year - no body need take any piece of clothing off to see that the ground is pretty cold right now.



Quite a lot of snow today - keep your trousers on. 

Both Lamb and fish are in plentiful supply here.



 Liz was in the supermarket today, she often goes before it closes at 6 when it is busy, she likes to find out what people are having for tea, tonight the majority were having lamb with potato or sweet potato and veg, one couple said they were having horse and they showed her big fat sausages that looked like huge saveloy’s filled with horse !

Here are some Icelandic goodies I have purchased.



Skyr is an interesting thing,it’s a cheese tastes a bit like yogurt but creamier full of protein and fat free, it’s pretty yummy - today i bought coconut flavour. It’s a very traditional food, at one time
it began to be unpopular and outdated, an angry man went to the parliament and threw it at the politicians which received a lot of interest and now it is extremely popular once again. 



But today was an excellent day on the food and drink front as Kaffi Klara was open !! Yo - because of our festival, There were cakes and coffee and old -fashioned telephones as it used to be the post office and telephone exchange i suppose.



Liz was in her element.



There is so much to say about food and drink, that i’ll need to say more another time.



Some Artists enjoying cake ! 

A brief sojourn



Unfortunately I had to go to London for my Father in-laws funeral. It was beautiful,fitting,sad and absolutely him.



The cemetery in Olafsfjordur 

I have been to too many funerals recently but they have all been very different and truly reflected the person - they have all been beautiful in their own unique special way just like them.
I hope though not to be at any more for a good while.

I did a lot of travelling, a lot of different things,hugged a few friends,kissed a lot of family. It was all very different from Olafsfdorfur - but apart from the reason for being there, the first shock of bad polluted air, the busyness and the feeling of disorientation when i first arrived, I loved it, because I was with people I loved. I am sure I was a happier,more relaxed person than when I left for Iceland.

London was a bit of a shock at first



I stayed with a lovely friend that I have known for 30 years. Went for dinner with my kids in a place called Sarastro in Covent Garden - the decor is wildly brilliant, the primarily Turkish food really good and there was live classical and operetta music. The decor in the toilets is not for the prudish. Go there if you are in the neighbourhood.



We went to the David Bowie wall in Brixton and left a memento that is important to us.


I returned to Olafsdorfur just in time for the Skammdegi Festival opening and I brought Rita Carload with me.



She mingled with guests and gave them all a small flower as a memento,they spoke about art and Listhus and how they loved having International Artists in Olafsfjordur, they also told her how they enjoy living here, some of them have left and lived elsewhere but they return because they love it.


That is how I feel , although I have only returned for a short while.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Hello again from Liz !!




Woohoo !!!!! hello everybody - hope you are all good today !
I absolutely loved my holiday in Olafsfjordur what a gorgeous place - ( I love a gorgeous place that's why I moved to Scotland from Essex) 
It was so amazing going to a place that was snowy all the time and not covered in brown slidey sludge,and lovely mountains and fantastic people and Zumba and a swimming pool that you can actually swim in outside it went so fast.
It's been lovely coming back home and seeing Des and the kids ( and Dick too of course ). 
Last night I cooked a lovely Burns supper Haggis,Neeps and Tatties and lovely gravy - gorgeous ! in case you don't know Haggis is a lovely Scottish food made with loads of oats and barley and lentils and meat if you eat it and in a Sheeps guts and just all the other stuff if you don't eat meat, it's really tasty and spicy too with mashed turnips ( or swede in England ) and mashed potatoe - yum ! and Dick read a lot of Burns poetry and Des saluted the Haggis and made a lot of toasts, it was brilliant. 


Des,me and Dick before we went on the People's baton tour in 2014 

After quite a few whiskys and telling everyone all my stories about Iceland I ended up on the Internet - and you guessed it....I booked myself a ticket to come right back again !!!!!!!!!***???####$$$¥¥€€ so see you everyone in Olafsfdorfur on Thursday ! 
I might even learn to do sking this time or at least watch some other people doing it ! The sun's going to be over the mountains too so it'll be even more wonderful. Yippee !!! Hurrah!! and everything else brilliant like that.


In case you are wondering Des didn't mind really - he said he'd miss me but he had enjoyed a bit of quiet. I'm going to cook some nice pies and stick them in the freezer for him, the kids are grown up so they don't mind at all. Dick is a bit sad but he is only my neighbour and he likes to read my stories on the internet anyway.

Up up and away - meanwhile here are some lovely pics of Scotland from lots of different places from our tours ! There's a lot of water ! 

Xxx Liz Xxx












Sunday, 24 January 2016

Skammdegi Artists - part 1

Sliding to the Listhus Gallery, the main space for the Listhus programme/organisation which we are part of.




Listhus runs lots of different residencies through the year, but our residency Skammdegi is the biggest one.
It is run by Alice Liu originally from Hong Kong, she lives in Olafsfjordur and is married to Siggy ( Sigurdur Svavarsson ) who I have never met as he is currently on a boat off an African Coast somewhere ( I think ) for 6 weeks.

We are heading to Akureyri for a pre - Skammdegi festival group show. It's Saturday a day when rather strangely there is no bus, so we struggle into various vehicles, there is one too many of us, a miscount somewhere. People get in and out of cars and swap around, slithering and sliding between vehicles. I find it all quite amusing. 


Flyers for the Skammdegi Festival in Olafsfjordur - it's on every weekend and opens next Thursday, pop over if you are free, look on the website for further details of each weekend, venues, times, events, exhibitions.


Will Plowman ( musician -Bristol )  sound checking for his performance tonight, sounded really great.


Devon Tipp (composer - New York ) is recording his piece for tonight, sounded brilliant and haunting.

( you can just about see him ) 

judy-b Onze ( writer - USA) setting up her piece in which she made and read poetry constructed from Icelandic sentences found on signs and labels. It sounded beautiful. 

 ( Devon's recording reflection again ) 


Laura Campbell and Adam Sloan's piece ( interactive art - Liverpool) an interactive sound and visual piece - 4 x repetitious and mesmerising pieces which you could interact with and change.


Jade de Robles Rossdale ( designer - Barcelona /England ) and her lovely piece which is engravings on plexiglass of the cosmos, which changes as you change your position, in this gallery with this simple lighting you need someone either side to be able to view it properly. 


Scott Probst (photographer - Australia ) with his big print. I am living with Scot,judy-b and Noemi from Switzerland in the guest house. Scott is doing a lot of printing, in the kitchen, in his bedroom, in the college -anywhere he can, repetitive images which I am intrigued to know more about.


Expect to see more Artists and their work in the future. 
Apart from Noemie and me everyone else has been in Olafsfjordur since early December, so they are further on in their projects. But the final festival weekend is 20th - 21st Feb, another 4 weeks !!!! Eeek ! I could do with a few months. 


Akureyri street art. 

Unfortunately I could not stay for the performances as I was heading to Reykjavik and beyond. 






Saturday, 23 January 2016

Reflections on a grey day

Today I did some things, but mostly a lot of sleeping which I needed and enjoyed.
Then because it was my daughter's birthday I did some wallowing and thought about the past which is hard.
5 years ago life turned very sour and things got worse and worse until August 2014 when arguably it got the worst it possibly could.

However since 2012 I have been trying to live as positively as possible, to always see the good things, and once you look it is not hard. 



For example today in Olafsfjordur it was a grey day but still everywhere there was colour.




Today in Olafsfjordur there was rain and the snow began to melt and reflect the lights.


I made my first animal friend ( I'm missing my cats now so I enjoyed this ) 


The shop that has never been open was open and I met a lovely Lady in there ( no surprise then that she is Loa's mum.


I saw a man get out of his car with a white shirt under his jacket and a white trilby style hat. I'd love to know where he was going. He is definitely the most dapper / unusually dressed person I have seen so far in Iceland.


The best thing in the whole World in my opinion are people - friends and loved ones. Without them I might be a broken person, my friends have been my lifeline. 
My children's friends are the same for them and we are truly blessed.

Nobody wants to learn life's lessons the hard way, but maybe we have to.



P.S - I do not plan to philosophise EVERY day ! It just keeps happening that way !