Skagaströnd, Iceland

A two month residency in a remote community during February and March 2020

just as Covid was rearing its head and closing down the world around us. 

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Hyperborea: the relentless beauty of frozen lands

Time spent walking alone through a monochrome landscape – mountains on one side, sea on the other; even the crows sounded different here, calling overhead with a distinctly Icelandic accents. I’m in a place where there’s no horizon, no way of telling scale. My eyes search for anything that might give some clue – a slightly paler shade of white that might suggests the edge of a hill or contour; a darker shade of white, maybe indicating a rock face or distant mountain, or just a bit of grass pocking through the snow. I notice faint changes in the surface; lines and ripples where wind blows snow up to form ridges with blue shadows, smooth flat areas where snow is thick and deep and I sink in up to my knees. There are faint pale orange tones where snow is stained by rock. Dark hard volcanic rock lies under ice, tiny particles of brown earth and black sand thrown up mingling with white snow.

I set out each day with my sketchbook, sit beside blocks of ice lying strewn across frozen ground. The wind is often strong, snow swirling around me as I attempt to capture the changing land in a mark put down rapidly. My paint freezes and then does its own thing - better than I can do. The images often don’t last beyond quickly-taken photographs before the wind destroys them. They are a collaboration between me and the elements and the landscape; from first mark to last, wind gusting against me, pushing paint across page, water freezing on the paper forming patterns, icy grit blown and mixing with wet paint.

The author Nan Shepherd writes of walking amongst the elements, of how such elements are ungovernable, unpredictable. Weather changes so fast here and although I am used to this in Shetland, here it is more extreme. There is an unforgiving quality, a relentless beauty in this wild landscape.

If you would like to read the blog I kept whilst there, which also contains sketches made on site, floow this link: https://www.janettekerr.co.uk/post/skagastr%C3%B6nd-art-residency-preparations

Snjóbylur yfir hafinu, Skagaströnd, oil on canvas, diptych 140x300cm  copy.jpg

Snjóbylur yfir hafinu, Skagaströnd,

oil on canvas, diptych 140x300cm

watching spakonufell oil on canvas copy_

Watching Spakonufell disappearing, Skagastrond

oil on canvas 152.5x183cm

The walker, No 1, oil on linen.JPG

The Walker No 1 

oil on linen, 40x40cm

The walker, No 3, Iceland, oil on linen, 40x40cm.JPG

The walker, No 3, Iceland

oil on linen, 40x40cm

The walker, No 2, oil on linen, 40x40cm .JPG

The Walker, No 2

oil on linen, 40x40cm

The walker, No 4, oil on linen 40x40cm.jpg

The walker, No 4

 oil on linen 40x40cm

The walker, No 5 oil on linin 40x40cm.jpg

The walker, No 5

oil on linen 40x40cm

The Walkers No 6 oil on canvas 800x1200mm.jpg

The Walkers No 6

oil on canvas 800x1200mm

Jk Drawing in Skagastrond.jpg