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Reykjavík, another place full of contrasts!  Beside the Old Harbour is the spectacular architecture of the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre.  Henning Larsen Architects and Icelandic studio Batteriid Architects, in collaboration with artist Olafur Eliasson,  completed the Harpa Centre in 2011.

A hive of activity and flooded with light from the basalt inspired hexagon metal structures which hold the clear and coloured, irregular glass windows. Henning Larsen Architects and Icelandic studio Batteriid Architects completed a concert hall and conference centre in Reykjavík, Iceland, in collaboration with artist Olafur Eliasson in 2011. From the exterior the viewer could be reminded of the scales of fish, the industry on which Reykjavík was established.

The design of the interior allows the various levels to seen simultaneously as the spaces have been opened up, allowing them to flow both visually and physically as you walk down gradually sloping stairways.

At the other extreme, a short ferry ride away is the small Island of Videy. A beautiful unspoilt natural place inhabited by seabirds waders and geese.

The peace and quietness was a marked contrasts to the rowdy festival atmosphere of the Old Harbour area of Reykjavík the Sunday when I made the journey.

It is the perfect situation for Richard Serra’s Afangar (1990) Standing stones, nine locations – two elevations. ‘(Stations Stops on the Road, To Stop: Look: forward And Back,To Take it All In)’ … sign posts encouraging the walker to pause and look both ways – to become fully aware of their environment. Nine pairs of basalt columns located on the west of the island perfectly in harmony and useful perches for the fulmars.

Finally, The Nordic House by Alvar Aalto provided the middle way. Built in 19…. as a meeting place for the Nordic people provides classic Aalto modernism and details.

The large north facing windows provide a wonderful view over the city while the library is flooded with light and perfectly proportioned with cleverly concealed office space and well lit stair structure leading down to a cosy and inspiring children’s library.

These final days of our visit to Iceland have allowed me the luxury of a transition period to reflect upon how different life has been here. Watching spectacular sunsets at 11.30 pm and working, unintentionally, until 2.00am because it is still light outside was both relaxing and extraordinary. I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like in the wintertime with only four hours of daylight. This experience will stay with me and continue to influence my practice. It has made me challenge the structure of how I work and opened my eyes to new palettes and remarkable colour combinations. I am looking forward to continuing to develop my ideas and incorporate this experience of Iceland into a new body of work to exhibit with Textile Echoes in the spring of 2020. My thanks to A-N for the bursary which allowed us to develop and extend our initial plans, access more opportunities for research and make full use of local resource.

Annette Mills