This past summer, together with artists from various places around the world, I was a participant in the NES Artist Residency Program in Skagastrond, Iceland. Being in this small village, with its deep-sea fishing boats and industry, rather small population, and some dependence upon the constant influx of visiting artists, I relished the change of pace and the luxury of time that allowed a sense of awe to permeate my life every day that I spent there. The entire experience was nothing short of magical for me in that it produced new roots and a sense of being (in a new) home.
Skagastrond itself is a mixture of a peaceful and yet pleasantly lively community. The small mountain that sits next to the town looks/reigns over everything and is both mysterious and calming. The magical seacoast brings with it a variety of ever-changing surf conditions. Views of grazing sheep, cows, and Icelandic horses are punctuated by the birds who often oversee and rule the territory – especially gulls, arctic terns, and plovers. And the special effects of being immersed in an environment whose energy source is geo-thermal did not escape me.
Being part of the artist community at NES was a gift whose tremendous impact on me has yet to be fully measured. Everything was new to me – and yet, I felt so much “at home.” A good amount of credit for this very positive experience derives from the place where I actually resided (Salthus Guesthouse) and the wonderful hospitality of its proprietor, Hrafnhildur Sigurðardóttir. She welcomed her guests with the most thorough and considerate forms of accommodation. The Guesthouse was conceived by her (and according to the NES artist website, “In 2008, NES was established and opened by the local townspeople of Skagaströnd with Reykjavik artist Hrafnhildur Sigurðardóttir.”).
The siting of the Guesthouse could not have been better – overlooking the ocean, next to hills laden with historical significance, walking distance to town and to the artist studios, etc. I can hardly wait to return....