week four: artist in residence at the fish factory

This is my final week in the tiny village of Stodvarfjordur in remote eastern Iceland and I can say already that I am definitely going to miss this place. But, I am very excited to do a bit of exploring as I make my way back to Reykjavic driving along the southern coast road. I’m also very excited that my husband Nate will be joining me for that adventure! But before I move on to other adventures, here’s what happened in my very busy last week in Iceland…

week four: artist in residence at the fish factory | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

Everything came out of the kiln perfect, which was great. I was able to unload my pieces and start experimenting with all the parts I’d made. We had the luck of having a few days of really nice weather so I decided to start with my ‘in the field’ installation idea of putting the radiolarian inspired forms into the water of the fjord. There were a few technical difficulties in planning this but eventually those got sorted and I got access to a small boat, made some contraptions to hang the pieces from and tested out a few shots with my underwater camera- which came out great! Then, my underwater camera promptly flooded and I was literally dead in the water with this photoshoot idea. So that happened. It appears to be glitch with the all important seal and locking mechanism on the door which protects all the innards. Meh.

week four: artist in residence at the fish factory | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

Sooo, while trying to figure out plan b with that whole situation, I started making stems for my Angelica inspired Umbel flowers. These came out beautiful and I was able to take them for a photo shoot in the mountains above the village among the real Angelica blooms. I’m still editing photos and video from that shoot, but it was really fun to see the ceramic flowers mixed in among the real ones, they truly looked like they belonged there.

Since the ceramic flowers are extremely fragile, I decided that I wasn’t going to attempt to bring them home to my studio. But I wanted to display them in a really finished way if I was leaving them at the Fish Factory. So I scoured through the endless supplies of materials here and found some formed acrylic pieces that were heavily scratched but just the right size for making a wall mounted holder for the flowers. I took the time to sand the whole surface of the acrylic to faux frost the surface which hid all the scratches. I also drilled holes to put the stems through and made small anchors to fix the base of each of the stems in place. The whole dealio was mounted in the stairwell leading from the offices to the entrance of the factory, there was a window on one side which cast soft light on the pieces and I think it ended up being a perfect spot for them to live out their lives.

week four: artist in residence at the fish factory | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

Regarding plan b with the radiolarian forms and underwater photoshoot, I am in contact with the manufacturer about replacement of the camera and in the meantime, my husband is bringing out another one when he comes. So hopefully if the weather cooperates, I still have a chance of getting some really beautiful underwater shots of my radiolarian forms. Once they have taken a dip in the fjord, I have big plans for these forms once I get home. I made a mini experimental version here which I’m also leaving behind. I decided to use this time to play and experiment with new ideas rather than worrying about making finished work or a new body of work. I’m at such a good jumping off point for so many new ideas I want to pursue, I’m just thrilled with my time here and I look forward to really seeing these ideas through when I’m back in my studio.

Thank you again to all of you that made it possible!

Consensus: Iceland is amazing, get here at some point in your life if you can! I’m so grateful for all the other talented artists and the team at the Fish Factory who have become friends and colleagues – they really make this experience unforgettable. And I’m so pleased with the new work, concepts and plans that have been created in such a short time. Only complaint… I have been here for four weeks and I have yet to see the aurora – maybe it’s the universe’s way of telling me I need to come back!

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