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  • Janette Kerr Land of Ice

Elves, bad ponies and bewitchment

Updated: Apr 26

I’m starting to lose track of the days, to not be able to remember what happened when.

I opened my sketchbook yesterday to find an elf – not sure what to make of this.

Since I last put up a Blog, four artists have left, their month being up, and there are currently only three of us here – which makes the space in the studio feel a bit weird.


So this is Friday, Saturday and Sunday in various order of events and thoughts…


I have been out exploring back roads that are new to me and lead away from town towards the large mountain Spákonufell – although it’s one of those unattainable things - never to be reached – but still bewitching enough with a pull that makes me want to try.

I’ve been walking down long dirt tracks still covered with loads of snow although there are tyre tracks indicating someone has passed this way, but not very often.

There’s been more drawing – both in and out of the studio – most studio work is still to be finished and I’m now feeling the pressure of time – as of today I have only 16 days left here before I go to Reykjavik for a few days and then back to the UK – and so much more to do! Drawing outside is what I love best – sitting in the snow with the wind blowing and snow and grit getting into the drawings.


And just looking and looking and looking.


Walking out along the beach on Sunday the weather is so good. I spend too much time stalking small wading birds wandering amongst the seaweed and photographing them.

I think they're Turnstones. The don't seem particularly bothered by me

A quick stop to check one of my pinhole cameras is prolonged when I discover it’s been attacked – the tin is caved in. I swear a lot, and try to push it back into shape; the pinhole is now facing a slightly different direction - upwards.

This is now a crime scene…. well I guess with Trapped in mind it was inevitable. Looking around I find prints and droppings – evidence of the culprits....

but when I accost the nearby troop of Icelandic ponies they’re not telling.

I suppose it will be interesting to see how the image in the camera is affected.


Onwards and through a hole in the fence to break through to new territory. Sun is still shining; no-one else in sight. The sea surges in eroding the thick wall of ice built up along the edge of the shoreline. Chunks of fallen ice float in the sea. It’s probably wise not to go too near.

I keep looking up at a small ridge just to my left wondering if I can get up there. As I walk I seem to be automatically veering closer to it; it doesn’t seem so far now… and I break away from the sea and head inland weaving a route through grass, rock, sinking now and again in thick snow, until I reach the base. I climb slowing, checking that I’m not about to fall into a concealed crevasse or have the snow give way beneath me into a river - there is one round here somewhere. The rock’s a brown/black/orange, slightly crumbly, mottled, volcanic, worn rough and pitted. Dolerite, I think, a kind of basalt with a reddish mineral called Olivine running through it.


At the top I reach a small plateau and survey the landscape around me. (sorry it's a bit blurred as I took a selfie)

I haven’t come far, but walking in this unknown terrain with deep snow and ice to contend with is tiring. Now I have a different perspective on Spákonufell – I can see round the other side; of course there is always another side to see.


I sit and draw for a while


Then with an eye on incoming weather, and noticing the mountains starting to disappear, descend and make for the fence hole. The snow catches up with me just as I cross the bridge and make for the studio, pretty good timing.


Late in the evening Alex announces that his App says that the northern lights should be showing. So the three of us (and there are now only three of us artists left here at Nes) dash out and head out of town to the darker areas. Sure enough there they are. I lie in the snow trying not very successfully to hold my camera steady enough to photograph the wavering lights. We scramble up on to the sea cliffs and watch them moving to and fro reflected in the sea, with a backdrop of a crescent moon and stars. Sometimes long thin wavering lines appear, sometimes glowing green pulsating swirls.

Off to have a road trip... see you at the next Blog..

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