Gullkistan, Center for Creativity, is an artist residency, cabin and shared studio space, located in the rural village of Laugarvatn, in southeast Iceland. It’s a small community of 350 people located between a lake and a mountain. “Laugarvatn” translates to “the lake by the pool, by the mountain. The lake has hot pockets of geothermal energy making some of the lake boiling water. Besides the edge of the lake is a small, warm pool, identified in the Icelandic Sagas as a “holy place.” In the year 1000, bathing in this 4-ish foot diameter pool, the Norse settlers of Iceland converted to Christianity. Taking advantage of the geothermal energy is a fancy spa called “Fontana,” a fancy restaurant called Lindin, and a couple of hostels, and a boarding high school, and a gas station grocery store.
It’s shocking how beautiful Iceland can be- from all angles- and how diverse both the landscape and weather. The cabin faces the village and lake, and immediately behind the unsettled highlands begin. Facing the lake, arcing into the forefront along the east-west periphery are white, flat-topped mountains that appear luminous and turquoise against the lavender sunset sky. From my studio, I looked down a slight valley and across the lake. On clear days, we could see two giant volcanoes, Hekla (the big one everyone is waiting to blow) and Eyjafjallajökull(famous for 2010 air traffic interruption), on the opposite side of the lake. Half an hour from Gullkistan was the Finger Feeler National Park, where you can stand between Europe and North American continental divide and where the Icelandic Parliament was held(!). We had a week of sweaty, rainy, chill, followed by a few days of intense wind, and one week of icy, crisp snow. About 3 nights of 17 days we saw the Northern Lights. Green, no purple, and snaking across the sky, in “s” curves and wisps. The dogs and horses are both different, stocky, small, shaggy, hardy.
I spent about two weeks at Gullkistan and am committed to new projects and industry. Gullkistan has been the ideal retreat devoted to industry. I could focus on my illustration projects in ways I find difficult in my real life. Having spent Fall 2016 and January 2017 researching the events leading up to the Deerfield Raid, I needed to step out of the tower and focus on the visualizing of my data. Working with other people is motivating and special. This was the crux of my time at Gullkistan while drawing and illustrating non-Deerfield related things took the rest of my time.
I highly recommend attending Gullkistan. The owners and directors were two lovely Icelandic artists, Alda and Kristeveig. So kind, available, and awesome. Working alongside me were two other artists, a non-fiction biographer, and a multimedia artist.
Fantastic company all around.
It was hard leaving after two weeks and stomaching the fear that I haven’t done enough. If enough hasn’t been achieved, then is that squandered time (no way), am I, my interests, skills, passions useless (verdict: ETA).
Reads & References
- Gullkistan, Center for Creativity
- Christina Chowaniec, entrepreneur & fearless Canadian, Dam Good Trips
- Sevda Khatamian, multi media artist, author (Amazon), & graphic designer
- Alex Chowaniec, lovely and brilliant, artist & wizard
- Lindin, fancy restaurant in Laugarvatn
- Fontana, geothermal spa at Laugarvatn