A NOT SO DISTANT MEMORY
Wildfjords Artist Residency (WFAR), Iceland
After returning from WFAR, I made a painting and video in response to the residency.
"WFAR invite 6-8 artists to participate in 10 days of camping and backpacking along a specially selected section of the 200km Wildfjords Trail. This newly-mapped trail traces the old horse and walking routes once used by inhabitants traveling between the many valleys and fjords, and weaves through some of the Westfjords’ most majestic land and seascapes. The residency incorporates facilitated activities intended to hone the senses and self; visiting lecturers; a reader that includes local literature, history, ecology and theoretical texts on relationship to environment ecological art; and a stay at a remote coastal sheep farm. The project is based on the belief that personal connection to the environment and creativity are vital to sustaining a balanced ecology"
The landscapes were sensational, however we were trekking in the day meaning there was no way to paint. This meant the work had to be made in hindsight after returning to the UK. I decided to work with this challenge and paint purely from the memory of the landscapes, this has now become the primary way in which I work.
The emotional experience of the residency was powerful. I was grouped with 8 other artists who had never met each other and interacted no one but them for 10 days. The mountainous landscape was physically challenging and felt close to as remote as you can get. Not even trees grow on the mountains of the Westfjords.
After getting home I was shocked by how suddenly I reverted back to normality, quickly forgetting the impact the experience had had on me physically and mentally. I chose to record the painting process as I felt I had lost aspects of the trek, I wanted to document the journey of the work being created instead.
We were introduced to a number of authors & poets who wrote about the Icelandic landscapes. One extract in 'From the Mouth of the Whale' by Sjón speaks about the feeling of being stood on a cliff edge in extreme winds. Landscapes are not static images, and doing justice to the movement & elemental forces of nature has been something that I've strived to capture since reading this.