SIM Residency: quick/unedited entries about the 6th - 15th June

Monday 6th

Went to check out some art stores today (which were confusing to find), and got a 10kg bag of clay to play with.  I couldn't find any plaster (wouldn't have been able to get it on the bus anyway alongside the clay), and we got caught up in a weird bus route so didn't have any time to head home to drop off our supplies.  We headed straight into the city for our afternoon meeting with the other SIM residents in the city.  It was great to meet everyone and to chat about the upcoming events including artist talks and the pop-up exhibition (which is coming up real soon).

I walked to catch the bus home, and started collecting little metal objects that I found on the street. I found a spoon without a handle, some ring-pull tabs, a few screws, bottle caps and things.  Carrying the 10kg bag of clay in my backpack was an interesting experience too - it really made me aware of my balance if I crouched down to pick something up.  I liked thinking about this new addition of weight as a means to bring attention to my physicality, stance and the way I move through the world.

Tuesday 7th

Studio day! Spent the day experimenting with casting rocks in a mix of portland cement and water.  These rocks are small in scale - similar to rubble.  I began thinking of rocks as unstable forms (much in line with my thinking of my previous work Unstable terrain), however I wanted the physical objects to offer this sense of instability.   I began making small forms to rest under the rocks to make them sit askew - to try and emulate the feeling of maybe slipping on marbles or walking on gravel with bare feet.

Wednesday 8th

Today was a hardware store visit/studio day.  I spent some time casting rocks in concrete (just using clay as a mold) and also hand-forming clay rocks.  I then began embedding some small metal objects that I had collected into the rocks, as I thought about how both the rocks that I was making and these metal things were both displaced from their original entities. The clay/concrete were now removed from quarries, processed and distributed, much like the metal objects that were part of processed products that had been consumed and now discarded.  These two things meeting in an abstract way felt right - two lost things joining forces and their contrasting qualities bringing attention to each other's form and matter.  I am considering placing these rocks back out into the urban space, to create the potential for others to encounter these objects, or for them to simply continue their journey as lost objects, albeit with a new materiality which will potentially change their course in the world.

Thursday 9th

Today was very sunny so I headed into town. I checked out the Hallgrimskirkja church, and wandered around the city streets taking a lot of photos of small moments that I enjoyed.  This included a broken shell of a hard-boiled egg alongside some cigarette butts - both which has the exact same palette of a warm tan colour and white.

Friday 10th

Today I spent the day at home and in the studio mostly, and did a drawing based on the streets I had walked in the city yesterday.

Saturday 11th

I jumped on a tour bus today to finally check out some sites around the Golden Circle - including Thingvellir national park, the geysers, and both Gulfoss and Faxi waterfalls.  It was such a clear day and strangely warm - people were wearing singlets and shorts in one town we stopped off at.  This particular town was over 15 degrees celcius which is unusually warm for June.  The greenhouses here grew flowers and fresh vegetables.

Thingvellir was fascinating, particularly due to its history regarding the formation of parliament there, and the ridge emerging between the Eurasion and North-American plates.  Gulfoss was spectacular.

Sunday 12th

Today was the day of our SIM Residency artist talks - it was great to hear more about everyone's practices and a good chance to talk about the development of my work over the last year.  I particularly focused on my interest in sculpture as an ongoing event rather than a static object, and how I wanted to keep my work engaged with sites beyond the gallery space.

Monday 13th

I joined my residency friend and her mum on a trip to the South coast, down to Vik.  We stopped off at two beautiful waterfalls - Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss.  You could walk behind the stream of water at Seljalandsfoss which was an amazing experience.  Skogafoss was also great - after walking up the hill to the top of the falls, you can walk along a hiking trail and see more waterfalls that are trailing down from the glacier to the main waterfall.  Black sand beach was breathtaking - the basalt columns there are so patterned - it was quite an overcast day so the weather contributed to the moodiness of the dark beach.

Tuesday 14th

Today we took a day trip to Stykkisholmur, with the intention to visit Roni Horn's 'Library of Water'.  It was so beautiful and still, and each of the 24 columns of water is positioned in correspondence with the location of the various glaciers they are sourced from.  I really enjoyed the minimalist installation, as it allowed each vessel of water to emphasise the light and people moving through the space.  Rubber words were embedded in the floor (both Icelandic and English), and were adjectives to do with the weather.  I liked this more playful aspect of the space, as the water by itself felt quite solemn.  The map on the wall was also great to confirm that the spacing of the columns was indeed a form of mapping.

Stykkishomur is an old port town - it has a gorgeous little harbour with many colourful fishing boats.  There is a basalt hill that has an orange mini-lighthouse, that gives a great view of the surrounding islands.  The whole town felt very Wes Anderson-esque.

On the way home, we stopped by the Gerduberg basalt columns which were beautiful.  We also hiked up the Eldborg crater, which is around 50m deep.  It was around 8:30pm by the time we got up there, and it was kind of eerie as the light started to dim and the wind was strong.

Thursday 15th

Today was a slow day - just went to the shops for groceries and then spent a few hours reading up on Iceland's volcanic activity.  I am still on the same train of thought about the ways humans/geological forces co-exist here.  Yesterday at the Volcano House in Stykkisholmur the guy who worked there showed us the section of Iceland's main meteorology website where earthquakes from the previous 48 hours were recorded.  The mapped/observed/recorded/tracked data from this geological activity is important for giving the best chance of predicting and giving warning about any impending volcanic activity that could potentially be hazardous (directly or indirectly).  I took a few screenshots of today's earthquake data, and might keep doing so for the next few days while I keep thinking about this reactive relationship between people and geology.  The chain of earthquakes can be seen to occur along the mid-Atlantic ridge, where the Eurasion and North-American tectonic plates diverge. Every year this ridge spreads around 2.5cm.  In the studio, I had a think about the center of gravity for different objects, and the potential for sculptures based on mobiles or spinning tops might be a playful way of thinking around these ideas of balance, instability and tension.  There is a long piece of warped timber sitting in the attic, and I had a go finding it's center of gravity by resting it on various objects.  Perhaps it might become a sculpture, or a performance.

first five days in Iceland

Thursday 1st

flew in > caught the bus to the hostel > wandered the city and drank a coffee > early night

Friday 2nd

This morning I arrived at the SIM residency in Korpúlfsstaðir, which is located on the outskirts of Reyjavik.  It was formerly one of the largest dairy farms, and is now home to a variety of artist studios and a golf club.  I spent the day unpacking and getting to know the other studio residents that I'll be living alongside for the month.

Saturday 3rd

I spent the day in the city, wanting to become familiar with the local galleries.  I checked out a gallery called i8, which had an exhibition that I really enjoyed.  The space was covered in wallpaper that was printed with strange characters in primary colours, which I was told was coded and contained several of the artists secrets.  Small cast bronze ledges were screwed into the wall, and held small everyday objects such as screws, gum, cardboard pieces, a cherry tied into a knot.  These small ledges blended into the wallpaper from a distance, and it was exciting to discover these objects embedded into the wall.

I then walked to Markethouse, a fresh gallery/restaurant space that held both Kling and Bang studios and The Living Art Museum.  It's located by the old harbour in downtown Reyjavik.

I spent the afternoon at an exhibition opening at Reyjavik Art Museum, which was holding a retrospective exhibition God: I Feel So Bad of well-known Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson.  At the gallery shop I found an interesting book called 'Scarcity in Excess: The Built Environment and the Economic Crisis in Iceland' which gives an interesting insight into Iceland's struggle during the 2007 economic crisis and how this has shaped the built landscape today.

Sunday 4th

Today I was feeling a little weary (I think the long trip over had started to take its toll) so I had a quiet morning and then went for a walk around the local area.  The studio is surrounded by one of the most popular golf courses in Reyjavik (people were even playing golf at midnight last night because it's light all the time).  It was interesting seeing the highly manicured golf courses, set against Mount Esja, which is a rugged and snow-capped mountain.  It's such a beautiful view, and it seemed striking to have this highly constructed landscape against such an organic land form.

I did some more reading after dinner, and did some research into Bianca Hester's practice who positions sculpture as a proliferating event within her practice.  I think it might be nice to use this time to make experimental work that is active beyond the studio space.

Monday 5th

This morning I woke up early and went for a little walk around the building.  I did a rubbing of a crack in one of the walls, thinking of these cracks as revealing structural/geological movement.  I then started to think about the tension between humans and landscape, both in Iceland in Australia.  I was thinking about mining in Australia, and also the way geothermal energy is harnessed here in Iceland.  I'm really interested in this social/economic relationship between humans and geological forms, and the ways we are both vulnerable to these forces whilst also attempting to utilise them for industry.

This afternoon my residency buddies and I caught the bus to a local geothermal pool, which was a nice place to think about geology and people.  There were several hot tubs there of varying temperatures, varying from 38-42 degrees Celsius (there was one pool that was 6-8 degrees celcius which was very refreshing but hard to stay in longer than a few seconds.)  There was also a lap pool, where I realised how much I miss swimming and would like to get back into it at home.  The feeling of weightlessness is something I'd like to explore maybe in some of my works.  There is something about the relief of floating in water that is a reoccurring interest to me.  This idea also came to mind when I watched some pumice stones floating in water at the Volcano House in downtown Reyjavik.