Category Archives: Architecture

Harpa: The Grand Lady of Reykjavik Harbour is Getting Tired

The beautiful view is closed off now, although the sun still shines in and statues still look out.

And for a palm tree just south of the Arctic Circle, where better? Is it Icelandic? The question is: what isn’t?

But the violinist playing to his city, now playing to an international hotel chain?

It can be exhausting to grow old and famous. Even three years ago, Harpa stood proudly out in the sea. Ten years ago, she was an open public space, with art shows and cool shops everywhere. Now she’s growing up, the dear.

So are we all.

So are we all.

Gathering the Living and the Dead

When the winds reach 125 kilometres per hour, I tell ya, the walls of a graveyard are welcome shelter.

The black church at Buðir still has the power to draw people to it, even though its town pretty much vanished long ago.

When you’re out there in the midwinter wind, it’s pretty clear, though, that the church is an expression of Budir, not Budir an expression of the church.

In other words, here under the volcano (cloaked in fog of its own making), in a lava field blown with dunes of stinging orange sand, the broken bits of old scallop shells, in a wind the volcano sends out to sea like a searchlight, there is power and light that exceed our understanding.

It is good to honour them.

It is good to remember that the living have been given their life by the dead. Even our words, even these words, are the work of ancestral voices meeting the world, often in winds so strong you don’t breathe the air, it breathes you. (I am not writing these words. My ancestors are. That kind of experience. To them, I am a mouth — a door.)

Gunnar wrote a book about some of this, called Vikikvaki, a story of the dead coming to life and dancing on New Year’s Eve.

He meant Iceland.

(The wind has passed now in the mid-day solstice light)

The dead meant life. They meant the wind. It is good to enter these forces. It is also vital to have shelter.