surveys: North Atlantic
  • Faroese urban art?

    Faroese urban art?

    I photographed this weird collection of beautiful orange little lines on the dark grey earth in downtown Tóshavn on the first of September of 2017. The fact is that I had already seen the intriguing lines, of exactly this same type, in one or two other places in the city, on the pavement. Although they may have been made on purpose by somebody, perhaps a more plausible explanation (I thought) was that they may be simply licks from machines used for construction or city maintenance works... Whatever the case, I found them truly wonderful!!

    In fact, in my detours through the city, this appeared to me something of a desert from the point of view of city art. The only certain sign I saw was this beautiful collection of hand prints on a white wall in a very narrow alley (if I remember well, there was an art or design studio at the corner, what helps to explain the presence of this otherwise concealed work of urban art):

    There is, nevertheless, a little space in downtown expresely dedicated to city art, the name of which I did not see or record. I can only provide this photo I made. See the daring red lines steming out and even crossing the street:

  • Iversen


    As you may know, the page ‘The line’ of this website is accessed by clicking on the same picture that opens today’s blog post, which I took in 2016 in an exhibition of the Faroese artist Hansina Iversen held that year by Copenhagen’s North Atlantic House (otherwise known also as The Nordic House). This picture, and Iversen’s art in general, are the icons of this long term investigation of mine that I call The Line...

    In 2017, after travelling for 3-4 days with my brother and friends in the Feroes, I stayed by my own for another few more days, accomodated in the Hostel Kerjalon, Tórshavn. Kerjalon is itself a more affordable annex of the very luxurious Hotel Føroyar, so I was allowed to spend time at the public areas of the Føroyar, mainly the extense reception desk area. And it was there that I discovered this painting:

    I failed to see any signature, but, if the author is not Iversen herself, the style is unmistakably hers...

    Just by chance, at the same reception area they had a very nice book, written in Faroese, precisely about Hansina Iversen!! I made a couple of pictures and, later on, went into a bookstore in downtown to see if they had it.

    Yes, they had it!!

    I purchased the book, and here are some pictures of it that I have taken today in my office:

    This artist that represented the icon of my ‘The line’ research seemed to follow or surround me like a hypnotic presence in those extra days I spent by my own in Tórshavn. I visited Hansina Iversen’s website and wrote an e-mail to her contact address, hoping perhaps to have a chance to meet her there. But I got no reply.

    I could, nevertheless, admire one of her most prominent works of art to date, the public work she was comissioned to do for the building of the national Faroese Parliament:

  • The National Museum of the Feroes

    The National Museum of the Feroes

    My posts about the Nordik House (Faroes and Iceland) and the Culture House (Reykjavík) were intended to be followed by this one on the National Museum of the Faroes, but somehow I just forgot about it! Today I correct this slip.

    The museum is in the north-eastern outskirts of Tórshavn, far from downtown, but a bus took me there on September 2, 2017 from the city center (for free! I do not know if all public buses are free or only some of them). I informed the driver of my destination, and he gently stopped there and instructed me about how to approach the building from the bus stop.

    The building seems anything but a museum at all, as you see in this photo of the front facade:

    And this is the view at the other side from the museum’s cafeteria:

    I got a funny general impression: a museum is always interesting, and this one was indeed, displaying valuable information on things like the natural history of the islands, or the historically critical role of fishing for their economy, while it was also, nevertheless, a very simple, old-fashioned, low-technology museum:

    But in the basement it hides an absolute first class cultural and historical treasure, wonderfully displayed in a room specially dedicated, which from the very begining was my aim in coming to this place: a large selection of the wooden church fittings that were once extracted from the medieval episcopal residence of Kirkjubøur during an extense renovation. They are considered to be the greatest Faroese national treasure. A gem that by itself is absolutely worth the excursion to this remote and somehow bizarre cultural venue:

  • Two historical places in the Faroes

    Two historical places in the Faroes

    I love historical places! And, during my 2017 North Atlantic survey, even if my Faroese trip was more a common tourist one, still I could enjoy a couple of very interesting historical spots.

    The first one were the remains of a Viking age farm, Toftanes, placed just by the road as you pass right besides the town of Leirvik, in the eastern coast of Eysturoy island. It was exciting to see a Viking era real human settlement for the first time in my life! For the coming years, I hope to see more, wether in Greenland or..., actually, I am seriously thinking of extending my surveys to L’Anse aux Meadows, in the northern end of Newfoundland, location of the only well ascertained Norse settlement remain in North America outside Greenland, and, I believe, by far the best preserved (actually, rebuilt) and the Viking era settlement more illustratively shown to the public...

    The other place we visited was THE historical place of the Faroes as such: Kirkjubøur, in the southern shores of Streymoy island, with the remnants of the medieval St. Magnus Cathedral and the construction that is said to be the oldest European house continuously inhabitated until our times.

    It is a lovely place indeed that we could fully enjoy in calm weather...

  • The Culture House

    The Culture House

    (All pictures taken in early September, 2017)

    In 2013 I knew of the existence of the Culture House already, and was very keen to visit it, but we spent only a couple of hours in Reykjavík.

    In 2015 I was happy to get back to the city, eager to taste it calmly for several days. The Culture House was number one in my agenda. But I found it closed! They were preparing for new exhibition!

    It is a little house, just a house, but in 2016 I spent 4 hours and 40 minutes inside!

    In 2017 I came back and spent almost another 4 hours...

    Then, later on the day, I made a stupid mistake with my Leica and I DELETED all the Leica pictures of that day!

    So I repeated visit next day, this time for 2 hours and a half.

    I must be the person in the world that has visited this wonderful cultural venue for the longest! 

  • The Nordic House in Reykjavík!!! 💖

    The Nordic House in Reykjavík!!! 💖

    I totally fell in love with it!!

    As said elsewhere, the first impression was that of an unassuming, easily unadverted building. 

    But this modest magic of its designer, the famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, shines in all its glory once inside:

    The central space (the high-class restaurant is right in front on the upper image), with the offices and rooms for different purposes around it. Everything (from each piece of the furniture to the lamps on the ceilings and tables) is direct design by Aalto.

    It transported me back again to the sixties or seventies of the 20th century. And, curiously, it also reminded me of Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 movie ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. What a wonderful feeling!!! (now they call it vintage). Works of local artists hang on the walls.

    The beautiful library. The whole experience was that of feeling warmly welcomed in all and every corner (starting by the kindness of the staff in the reception office at the entrance of the building).

    From the middle of the library you descend to the artotec, a modest but growing repository of graphic art creations free to look at, which can be taken home borrowed for a period of time. Thanks to the lady in charge of the library and the artotec for her hospitality!!

    I promise to visit again next year!

  • The Nordic House in Tórshavn

    The Nordic House in Tórshavn

    So, yes, as I said previously in a video, the so awaited visit to the Nordic House of the Faroe islands ended up to be somehow disappointing, for there was nothing in exhibition at the moment. A real pity, because the center is without doubt an architectural gem, and it would have been fantastic to see it in its full glory. The structure, partly buried in the earth, looks marvelously beautiful from outside, and the inner space is another design gem, functionally and prettily organized. But, alas! all I could see was the rooms, each designed for a specific use, empty! The only activity was revealed by a considerable amount of people in the cafeteria, which were the atendants to an international conference on something (I have forgotten what it was specifically) that was being hosted there. 

    That means I have a good excuse for a new visit in the future... 🤗

  • Faroes in red

    Faroes in red

    This picture I took at the National Museum of the Faroes, in Tórshavn, shows a late eighteenth century vignette illustrating a traditional faroese hunting of pilot whales.

    Before our trip, I knew this tradition was still very alive, and proudly so for the strongly nationalist Faroese, but very controversial nowadays.

    What we could never imagine was that we would be witnesses of it! And the scene was the same as the old vignette, with all the elements in identical perspective as we saw it from our car!

    The killing itself (executed by the people on the opposite shore of the bay) was far enough that we could no see the details from our moving car, although the red splashes of the whales’ blood were truly shocking.

    We crossed the bay by a bridge and approached. The whales were dead by then. It was shocking, absolutely, and very controversial. We had clashing discussions about it afterwards. Personally, I chose to focus on the social aspect of the event as a joyful comunal gathering (children, for instance, were having great fun, you can see!) and, in the broadest sense, part of the traditions and way of life of another people that we were not in a sound position to judge from our alien perspective...

  • expedición noratlántica 2017: islas feroces-1

    So, yes, the ‘islas feroces’ (‘ferocious’ islands, the Feroe/Faroe)… Just a few hints here to show you the inexpressibly fascinating beauty of this land, starting with a little video that shows our arrival to the village of Gjógv, in the northern shores of Eysturoy island.

    A view of Saksun, another of the most picturesque places of the Feroes, in the north-west coast of Streymoy island.

    In sum, no matter how the weather may treat you (and we were lucky to not be caught in periods of sustained rain!), a visit to the ‘islas feroces’ will easily become one of the most memorable experiences in your life. It was for us!

  • expedición noratlántica 2017: Edimburgo-2

    A mí es que lo anglosajón no me gusta ni un pelo, me siento muy incómodo, lo mismo me pasó cuando fuimos a Australia: que no, que no me va, que me da grima. Así como me siento en las culturas nórdicas como pez en el agua, en las anglosajonas se me erizan los pelillos... Y el festival de Edimburgo estaba anglosajonado a tope, además con una carga de mercadotecnia y reclamología que echaban p’atrás. Yo no sé si hace veintitantos años, cuando ya sentí ganas de visitar este festival, pero no acerté a cuadrar las fechas para coincidir con él en mis viajes escoceses, sería menos «véndote-la-moto»...

    Pero, bueno, lo que sí ha sido cosa grande es el ambiente, gente a raudales, el bullicio, el «buen rollo», la «buena onda», la ciudad transpirando jovialidad y alegría de vivir por todos sus poros... Anglosajón o no..., siempre es bueno ver a las personitas relajadas y felices a tu alrededor. Una maravillosa experiencia.

  • this year’s journey: Edinbourgh-1

    As I had foreseen, a three-day stay in Edinbourgh could not count as a true emulation of my old visits to my beloved Scotland.

    Nevertheless, even if ephemerally, the very first impression, mundane as it was (the Scottish houses —just as I recalled them!—, lining at both sides of the streets as our taxi sent us from the airport to the city center), brought all the magic back!

    Afterwards, it was ‘merely’ a typical tourist visit, walking endlessly and visiting the not-to-be-missed tourist spots: nothing of a more ambitious ‘cultural survey’ event.

    But (and this is a big ‘but’!) at last, yes!, we could experience the happily lively atmosphere of the famous Edinbourgh Festival, absolutely wonderful to witness and feel inmersed in! (in those my old visits to Scotland, more than twenty years ago, I failed misserably to schedule my trips in time for the event, very much to my regret…).

  • 2017 North Atlantic survey video

    Love you for a thousand more...

    The vast majority of the images are mine, but a very few of the first part were taken by my travel companions (Juan Luis Ayllón, Ana Ballesteros and Pilar Sánchez) during the days we travelled together in Edinbourgh and the Faroes. I then remained on my own for another four days in Tórshavn and three more in Reykjavík.

  • 2017 North Atlantic Survey report

    A few clarifications:

    - What Iceland gained in 1918 was its full political sovereignty, although still sharing head of state with the kingdom of Denmark at the time.

    - The "very very interesting art exhibition" announced to be held apparently in October 2018 in Iceland, revolving around the centenary of Iceland’s sovereingty, is the Cycle Music and Art Festival, which encompasses a broad spectrum of exhibitions, seminars, workshops, debates, film projections, festive gatherings, etc. UPDATE: in answer to my enquiry, from Gerdarsafn - Kopavogur Art Museum (the venue that hosts the festival) they have just confirmed that Cycle will also run in 2018, adding that, although the dates are still undecided, September is a likely time, just as this year. 

    - The Greenlandic art festival mentioned is the Nuuk Nordisk Kulturfestival, held every two years (not annually as I said in the video), which is taking place this year in October; consequently, its next edition shoud run in 2019.

    - Both festivals (Cycle and Nordisk) focus heavily on artistic productions pertaining or relating to the West Nordic area (Greenland, Iceland and the Faroes).