© 2012 Melody Woodnutt. All rights reserved.

Case Study – Nes visits Skaftfell

Skagaströnd meets Seyðisfjörður.
Remote meets Remote.

Observations and Gestures.

While attending the Skaftfell residency as a guest for 1 week an array of observations, comparisons and gestures were exchanged.

These words are an encased summary of what was found, and lost, and helpful.

NES artists brunch in Skagastrond


Of difference – location: while both residencies are set in coastal regions and separated from airports, public transport, or city facilities, they operate with different meanings of remoteness. The ferry that docks in Seyðisfjörður connects it to Europe with international thoroughfare. The fishing harbour in Skagaströnd connects Nes to a fishing village culture. The sea and surrounding mountains mean different things in both our locations, the mountain in Skagaströnd (Nes) holds folklore and the legend of Þordis and is for hiking. The mountains in Seyðisfjörður means the town sees no sun in the winter months at all, or seemingly embraces the town in a giant hug. Similarly though, both residencies share the “off the beaten track” feeling.

Of difference – remoteness:  The idea of remoteness is understood differently in each residency. Nes Artist Residency (in Skagaströnd) is remote in it’s connection to the artworld, and to Icelandic arts. Nes is remote from a certain age group in the town, as the generation from 20 – 30 years old are not present much in Skagaströnd. Nes is remote from exhibtion spaces, galleries, or places that presents or provides arts connection. Nes is the main supply of artistic influence.

Skaftfell is connected to most of these things through a young and creative community of artists present in the town and the presence of gallery spaces or cafes, which Nes is not privy to in Skagaströnd. Skaftfell is geographically more remote within Iceland with the chosen travel there being by plane instead of car. Skaftfell is however more connected to the Icelandic arts and history of Icelandic arts through it’s connection to schools and artists working within the town, or Icelandic artists traveling from Reykjavik to work from the residency.  Skaftfell has a more established connection over time to the Icelandic arts, yet is still remote from it geographically or with it’s international focus.

Of difference – contextual community: A difference of community engagement experienced by artists is found. Nes prides itself on the connection to local rural Icelandic life, and a genuine cultural exchange through the local people. Nes cannot provide a direct dialogue to an artistic community like the one found in Seyðisfjörður. Skaftfell is able to introduce artists to local cultural or artistic people present within the town. Artists that come to Nes often come to gain insight into Iceland itself as opposed to the artistic dialogue around it.


A gesture is that of an exchange or offering, it is through the gesture of host that we invite each other to experience or be involved. It was this gesture of exchange between our residencies that enables dialogue and discussion to occur and to see our own residency more clearly. By this gesture of new vision the host offers the guest a chance to renew and refresh the idea of what it is to be oneself, remotely or with a new found connection: to gradually build an integrated and improved residency and cultural place for artists and our communities.

For more information and pictures on these both centres check the other blog entries: Skaftfell and NES.

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