Performances.Earth
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Iceland

Iceland, The story so far

In 2008-2009, a small group of international students along with a light and lovely smattering of Icelandic men began a new interdisciplinary Natural Resource Management Masters in the Westfjords of Iceland. The programme was being offered as a rural development initiative and has gone from strength to strength since its inception over 10 years ago.

Following the course, a creative project was borne in partnership with local friends, the land and sea, and three or four special souls who played ever so nicely together. The project has managed grants to bring artists and volunteers to the region’s wildest quarters, to map some forgotten mountain routes, restore fallen cairns, plant native trees and to explore and experiment in collaboration with local people, place and ecology.

 
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Insistent ideas, dreams, listening for the edge - that place where we go, time and again, to make real those yearnings and to locate those moments that strike a chord to make us feel full; the same place that loops back on itself to makes others, and the world around, also so fervently full

Through our activities, we aim to get more people engaging with and enjoying the culture and ecology of the Westfjords. It’s part trail development project—part creative storytelling endeavour with an aim to listen and collaborate with the stories of other species.

Our latest activities include writing a sparkling little guidebook to the Westfjords region—as a way sharing our knowledge and of inviting more people to walk on some of the old herding and walking routes found between Ísafjörður and Látrabjarg. It features cultural history through the lens of local ecology, invitations to explore and be open to the environment's affect, creative response from the projects we've run previously (see below) and maps for over 250 km of rough rocky trail!

It will publish 2019. Join the mailing list for updates.

 

(each slide has audio attached which plays automatically as you change the slides!)

 
© Daily drawings ,    Pam Posey

© Daily drawings, Pam Posey

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Cairn REstoration Project

We sang, lifted and stacked stone, walked, camped, listened, dreamed, foraged, told stories, lived in cloud, created, ate like kings, cried with the rain, swam, ran, welcomed silence, forgot and remembered in equal measure, and made lots of new friends! A total of 32 people took part and we repaired over 40 cairns and mapped many more.

I believe the sight of a new dry stone construction on the land is a sign of a healthy community. When loose stone is collected and arranged, conversations take place. Intercourse is initiated among people about their place on earth
— Dan Snow in 'Listening to Stone'
© Notebook,  Emma Houlihan

© Notebook, Emma Houlihan

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Native Tree Planting Project

In the summer of 2017, 10,000 native birch and rowan trees were planted in an area of 10 ha. at Hrafnseyri, Westfjords. The area is home to the Westfjords best exhibition space which features the life of Iceland’s Independence hero, Jón Sigurðsson. The project ran in collaboration with Reykjavík based organisation, SEEDS and was funded by the European Outdoor Conservation Association.

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For a human character to reveal truly exceptional qualities, one must have the good fortune to be able to observe its performance over many years. If this performance is devoid of all egoism, if its guiding motive is unparalleled generosity, if it is absolutely certain there is no thought of recompense, and that in addition, it has left its visible mark upon the earth, then there can be no mistake
— Jean Giono, in 'The Man who Planted Trees'

 Walking Artist Residency

In the summers of 2015 and 2016, we welcomed writers, dancers, musicians, visual and performance artists for a 2 week walking artist residency during which time we foraged, walked and sang through the perpetually light nights, got sodden wet, kayaked, shared creative response with each other, and allowed the land and sea to infiltrate our dreams.


Delivered in collaboration with Tanja Geis and funded by Shinnyo-en Peacebuilding Leadership Fellowship, USA.

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Creating art is not as elevated a thing as many people guess, but certainly it is a useful and kind thing to do, especially if it brings people together, and arouses kind feelings in them
— Leo Tolstoy, in 'A Calendar of Wisdom: Tolstoy on Knowledge and the Meaning of Life'