Posted by: jeanne | July 17, 2017

three days of festivals

we’ve just finished a very busy week, capped off by a troll festival and a medieval festival.  also, i almost started another wall, except the owners decided they needed to repaint the whole building first, so i put it off until the end of the weekend.  and i got a small wall where i can put the troll mother and her kids, but that also needs repair.  also, i’m collaborating with an illustrator – rán –  who has been commissioned to design murals for all the branches of arion bank in iceland, and she has drawn a troll for olafsfjordur, so i’m going to be putting that up at the bank.  and i’m going to collaborate with sherry, another artist to put the local flora up on a wall, because the kids don’t know what they’re trampling on.  i’m also doing the preparation for starting a troll sculpture out of local rock, collaborating with bjarney lea, the unofficial tourist industry official hereabouts.  and i’ve got a wall in dalvik to do now, that jim hasn’t gotten the portrait photos for, so it’s still on the long finger.  that just by itself is busy.  but it gets better.


connor doesn’t know from busy.  he’s got his soccer and playgroup, and his swimming, his tablet and his legos, and several more changes of clothes than i do.  so he’s happy just to pose for me now and then.  doesn’t he look great?


and he’s been drawing.  this one is a troll with several extra arms and a sword, and electricity all around him, and he’s surrounded by open mouths ready to eat him (ready to be battled), and he’s been charged with doing good deeds forever.


the flowers are everywhere in bloom and some of them are massive, and they’re all attended by flower fairies who are very busy making things grow.  things grow very fast here.  i’ve even got salad leaves coming up in my little garden out back.  and when it rains – not very often – the soil soaks it up and dries again instantly.  it’s very fine soil, with not much clay to hold moisture.

on friday, one of our artists – sonja – held a workshop to draw circles and spirals on an enormous piece of paper she got from tommi the sign guy.  she’d invited the town, but mostly it was resident artists who showed up, and we spend an afternoon making abstractions on paper.  it was quite relaxing and very fun.  sonja does these workshops all over, and sometimes the participants get out into the snow with snowshoes and make these designs in real life.


after soccer was over, connor came up and did some circles as well, hanging out with lizzy, of whom he seems particularly fond.


as for me, i took the opportunity to hang out in the windows of bank building’s attic floor and just look at out lovely valley.  that’s our alice’s house in the middle ground, with flowers painted on it.  the yellow house behind it is the one that’s still getting the roof put on it.


when we were done with the art project, we retired to kaffi klara, where ida had made us some wonderful cauliflower soup and homemade bread.  we ate it all up.


saturday was the busiest day.  connor and i got up in time to be the first ones in the pool.  it was raining, relatively hard.  when it rains on the pool, it turns the surface opaque, and tiny little beads of rain float on the surface like will o’the wisps.  the cold rain falls on your head and face, but you don’t care, because the rest of you is submerged in warm or hot water, depending.

after a short swim, we went over to the residence, where anita painted my face so i’d look like a troll.  lizzy painted connor to look like a zombie.  it took forever, and i was 45 minutes later than i said i would be to kaffi klara, where i was helping ida with the crowds.


connor just had to look at himself in the mirror for awhile.


when we went to kaffi klara.  several of the artists were participating, doing troll drawings and painting faces.  i’m going to put the drawings up around town along with all the drawings the kids did in their june workshop.


i got a chance to wear my new icelandic sweater; it’s all green, and goes with everything i brought to wear.


then connor went over to learn how to make a felt troll out of local wool.  the workshop was held by ragnheidur johannsdottir, and i snuck away to join them later in the day.  i brought stuff to make felted house shoes, but so far the materials are still in the closet, and i might have to wait until i’m back home (i mean i will definitely have to wait until i’m back home) to tackle it.  but now i know how to needle felt, so that’s one thing.


when i took some troll soup over to galleri ugla (the owl gallery), i was told to go across the street to the woodcarving shop where the woman wanted me to paint a troll on the front of her store.  it’s a small space, only a couple of feet high, but i will be able to put the mama troll and her kids, slowly turning into rock as the sun comes up.  she wanted something with a story, and that’s about perfect.  her wall will need preparation, tho, so it might be close to the last one i do.


here’s one of the things she has made; she’s a very accomplished scroll saw worker, as well as lots of other crafts.  one of the things we talked about was the need for the local kids to know the local flora.  alaskan lupins were introduced here some years ago, and they are very invasive, and take over, so the local plants – some of which are unique to the troll peninsula – are becoming endangered.  plus, the kids don’t know what these plants are, because like all kids these days, they tend to stay inside and play videogames.  so she suggested i do a wall of local plants, and after discussing it, i thought that the base of the sports center would be the perfect place.  our helper artist (kaffi klara’s helper who is an artist) will be working with me to put these up.  i love collaborations.


here’s ida getting her face painted.  she had a few moments of downtime during the afternoon.


people lined up for cotton candy, hot chocolate, and troll soup.  inside was lots of cafe food and hot coffee.


in the museum, the felted troll workshop was going well, with people stopping in all day.  there was also some live music, and people were singing along while it lasted.


connor stopped in to the face painting tent to get his makeup refurbished, and jason put lots of blood on him.


it had been raining slightly thru the afternoon, but then it dried up, as it often does, and the sun even came out as the afternoon went on.


what they say about babies in iceland is true – mothers routinely leave them outside in their baby carriages to sleep in the open air.  it’s so healthy.  this one was starting to wiggle and whinge, so i rocked him back to sleep.


lara got her face painted, and looks just as dramatic as ever in her witchy troll face.


while i sat in the soup booth and served up troll soup and hot chocolate.  and drank loads of coffee.


and that’s iceland for you.  rain and sun at the same time.


friday evenings, ida serves tapas and has musicians in to play.  it’s always sold out, and this evening it was as crowded as ever, so i volunteered to help out, and got to prep salads, replace empty trays of food, wash a bunch of dishes, gather used plates, sweep up, and hang out, stuffing my face.  i haven’t done actual restaurant work in decades, and it was very rewarding for me to get my back into it.


did i mention that it was ida’s birthday?  happy birthday, ida (in the apron)

on sunday, sherry our helper, connor and i drove almost all the way to akureyri to participate in medieval days.  they’ve held it for years on the approximate site of a medieval trading post, and it’s a chance to see how people lived and what they did way back a thousand years ago.  about a hundred people participate, getting themselves up in costumes, practicing all the handcrafts, having battles and eating soup.


the incongruous thing is that everywhere you look, there’s someone with a camera, in a down jacket, wearing jeans and tennis shoes.  but after a few minutes, you start ignoring them the way the folks dressed in costume do, and go about your business.  my business was taking photos of the participants, to give us some reference material when we go to paint icelandic paintings once we’re back home.  i took almost 700 photos on sunday.


this lady was on a hillside perch, away from the crowds, with antlers on her tent pole and other witchy attributes.  she would tell your runes if you had some pocket change, but all i had was plastic.



connor got into the act, of course.  he got them to teach him how to play the medieval version of lacrosse.  it was supposed to be a demonstration, but i don’t think anybody minded if he got into it.  the participants were all camped out there for three days, living the life, and i think it was fine with him to join in instead of standing on the periphery taking pictures, like i did.


he also got into the archery field, tried the bow a few times, and spent some time helping retrieve arrows after others had their shots



we got there just in time for everyone to have lunch, and tho connor told me the soup was free, only the costumers had any.


i wandered off to explore the area while connor flatly refused because he was having so much fun hanging out with people. i went out on the rocks and took lots of distance people with my long lens, and got a nice shot of the rain fallilng on the hills opposite akureyri, which you can see in the far distance, shining white.


and of course connor found a kid to hang out with.  this kid – barefoot!!! – was whittling wood, and connor desperately wanted to have his chance.  fortunately, the tools were for the participants, and they weren’t shy about telling him so.


then they announced a tour to the old archeology site, where the lady led us down to an old church, and an old storehouse that they’d found lots of stuff inside.  this isn’t the current site, where they were digging a new port, and found a burial ship with loads of stuff in it.  that site is across the inlet from this site.  we could see it from where we were.  they’re doing really exciting things at the new site, finding things they never thought they’d find, things that are changing what they know about the area and its past.


we walked back to the encampment by ourselves, and finally connor raced ahead.  he’d found 100kr (a dollar) on the ground, and was bursting to see if he couldn’t buy something with it.  i suggested maybe a tumbled stone that i saw someone selling, but he wanted a sword.



connor is not embarrassed to go where he’s not supposed to.  there were people inside the tent, and he was curious, so in he went.



then he found someone he’d been playing ball with, and ran him thru with his sword.


and after that he found some kids, and they all played together.  when connor went to strike someone, he did it in slow motion.




and finally he found a girlfriend.


and the blacksmith, of whom he asked endless questions.


but it was time to go, and we ducked into akureyri to stop at the indian curry hut, but gasp – it was closed until 5:30, and there was no way i wanted to wait around for an hour, so we went across the street and got a hotdog, and then let connor meet the trolls.


then it was back home, but we stopped at this delicious waterfall right before entering the tunnel to olafsfjordur.


and that was the end of our trip.  connor was asleep before very long, and i stayed up to size all these photos.  now i’ve had another busy day on monday, but i’ll report on that real soon now.  up this week, a trip to saudarkrokur’s fish leather factory, the turf house museum at glaumbaer, and a swim in the pool at hofsos.  and maybe a visit to the horse farm and dog kennel to see if i can do a mural on their wall…


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