Tag Archives: Art

The Problem With Cairns

In Iceland, the major architectural monuments from the past are also way-finding cairns of stones passing across inhospitable terrain. They were essential for commerce and the maintaining of a low technology culture in a harsh environment. They are now essential links to the past, as important to Icelanders as, say, the pyramids in Egypt or the Strasbourg Cathedral in France. In other words, they led somewhere, and still lead somewhere important, even as people continue to try to read them.

Aimlessness at Þingvellirvatn

Unfortunately, many contemporary visitors to Iceland, being humans and liking to make their own presence into lasting magical gestures, a signature of their kind, obscure the landscapes with their mark-making. Please don’t. It’s ugly and aimless. They don’t let you do it in Paris. Respect goes a long way towards creating beauty.

Not All Old Technology is Thrown Away in Iceland

It’s something about reverence.

And thanks. Yeeha!Some is still very much alive. (Note as well the turf house, towards you from the house just behind the hill, and the other old buildings along the slope to the right.) When the whole country is a museum, that people live in, even the two-legged sort, it’s not a museum. It’s a place stripped of what doesn’t belong. That junk is put into second hand shops in Reykjavik, in the hope that people from far away are going to take it back with them where  it came from.

It is a very proud, and very quiet, nationalism.


Teaching Art in Iceland

First a teacher’s kit for student artists, 5 years old. Note the empty chamber to right!

Then a bit of what they’re going to have to deal with as adults with the skills learned from those tools. Note how the empty chamber has almost completely won. Then a reinforcing lesson in applying foreign tools as training mechanisms.

And some of the cut-and-paste consequences.

And again, this time in downtown Reykjavik.

A closer view of early art education is shown below. Please compare it to the image above. Note how the colours are used to train young minds into cut-and-paste and construction techniques. The stuff is even called “construction paper.” Keep your eye on the black stuff. An adult helped with that!And, finally, an image of that black diamond above, when written out on the land.

In Iceland, children are herded, and in their herds they are free. 1100 years of herding culture drove this lesson home.