Week One: Artist in Residence at the Fish Factory

Greetings from Iceland!

After the jealously of watching all my friends travel photos appear on Facebook in the past few years, I can finally cross Iceland off my bucket list…and it does not disappoint! I arrived in Reykjavik and spent one night in the city with enough time to wander around town before leaving for the eastern coast of Iceland the following morning. The corrugated steel houses with their simple design and bold colors and the Icelandic lambs and horses grazing in epic landscapes makes it very easy to fall in love with Iceland.

Week One: Artist in Residence at the Fish Factory | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

In the photo above you can see a little village along the fjord called Stovardfjordur and that is what I’m calling home for the next few weeks. It’s a remote little fishing village of around 200 residents, many of whom worked at the Fish Factory, when it was an actual fish factory up until the early 2000’s. When the factory closed, the town was decimated and many local businesses left along with a lot of the population. In an effort to save the building from demolition and revitalize the village, a group of founders coordinated buying the factory and turned it into the creative space that it is today. Over the past four years, they have done a ton of work with their own hands on the enormous building while the entire group was and still is operating on a completely volunteer basis. Along with the artist-in-residence program that has shared and private studios, they also host local concerts and events, have a working print shop, dark room, wood, metal, textiles & ceramics studios, plus a professional recording studio that is -almost- finished. And of course they have plans and dreams for lots more. The founders of the Fish Factory believe that you can’t have a thriving village without culture, so they are being the change they want to see in their world and their commitment is inspiring.

Week One: Artist in Residence at the Fish Factory | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

In addition to being bowled over by the incredible scenery here and completely impressed with what this small group of art entrepreneurs have created from an abandoned fish factory, I’ve simultaneously settled into my corner of the shared studio space and started making art. I came with a foggy plan in my head of what I thought I’d like to make, but there is so much inspiration here it’s hard to not get distracted onto side projects too. So I’ve been 3-D sketching/doodling to help me filter out ideas with more potential for completion in my time here and I’ve got some promising starts.

I’m using the translucent porcelain clay that I was experimenting with while on my last residency in June (yes, it survived being in my checked luggage!) and I would like to create enough pieces to do an ‘in the field’ photoshoot onsite, I’m just not sure if there will be one or two (or maybe three!) site specific installations. I’m playing with some ideas from seeding plants I’ve found on my hikes as inspiration (see image above) for some land installations, which I think could be very successful. The work I had planned on making is based on radiolarian forms (lace-like skeleton structures of single cell ocean dwelling plankton) which would be a water based installation. And then of course there are the other ideas that can’t help but sneak into my studio practice, we will see if there is enough time for them to come to fruition. I realize that I’m being a little vague about my plans, but I’m not exactly sure where it’s all going yet, so here’s a sneak peak at my current studio table, I’ll let you know how it progresses as I head into week two here…

Week One: Artist in Residence at the Fish Factory | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

And remember, if you want to keep up with what’s going on with me on a daily basis, you can follow my Instagram account for works in progress, inspiration through exploration snapshots and just musings on life as an artist.

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