Quick Recap… just setting the scene:
Before I left Iceland last November I had contacted a number of artist residencies about the possibility of working in January and February… and luckily I found the perfect place, about 1hr from Reyjkavik. A residency called Gullkistan on the outskirts of Laugarvatn… Gullkistan
Jón and I arrived about 5pm at Gullkistan after an incredible drive through blizzard conditions. On arrival Jón’s trusty 4WD struggled with the depth of the snow on the driveway- well we think we were driving vaguely on what should have been a driveway. After finding the secret key, we made out way to the lovely wooden cabin… and had to dig out the front door to open it… the snow was above knee level. When we arrived the roof was covered in snow and it was falling in thick fluffy flakes…. at this point I didn’t take any photos as I just wanted to unload and have a glass of wine in the warm with my Viking!! I was to be the only person staying there for a week or so…
Luckily the next morning the temperature had warmed a little (+2°C instead of -10°C) and combined with some strong winds, dissipated the snow to a more reasonable depth…. although the sound of large hunks of snow sliding off the roof during the night gave me quite a fright!! Jón was kind enough to spend the first night with me and then abandoned me to my artistic quest… he was right when he said I would learn fairly quickly about snow… also about ice…. ice is not very nice… I have a bruised butt to confirm this…
I was lucky enough not to be in total isolation, with a wonderful American artist called Marietta Patricia Leis sharing the studio spaces with me. I am very sad we only get to spend a week in each others company as she has been wonderful company and inspirational, along with her partner David, a talented photographer. Ironically they had come to Iceland to work on a series for an exhibition that was based on their experiences in Antarctica. Although when Marietta didn’t appear for a few days, I went a little crazy- and made myself a friend…. Wilson. Named after Tom Hank’s soccer ball in the movie Castaway… need I say more?? 🙂
Laugarvatn (which means Hot Springs Lake) is a shallow lake, about 2 km2 in size, and is located in the inlands of Árnessýsla, midway between Þingvellir, Gullfoss and Geysir, 100 km from Reykjavík. On its bank rests a village also named Laugarvatn comprised of over 250 people. Under its floor there are hot springs heating the lake so it is said to be warm and suitable for bathing all year round (not sure I am brave enough to test this theory). The lake is fed by streams running from the misty fells behind it, and by the hot spring Vígðalaug, famous since medieval times.
The hot spring Vígðalaug
In recent years they have developed the geothermal waters into the Fontana Steam Baths, which harness the natural geothermal activity in the area. A series of baths and steam rooms look out across the still, clear waters of the lake… I have a season pass to this place!! The Residency itself nestles in the base of the Laugarvatnsfjall mountain with its birch-covered slopes, this small mountain shelters the village and adds to the charm and beauty of the place.
I have been here over a week now, each day my camera and I go for a walk in the snow to marvel at the beautiful light and the landscape.