ttierney July 21st, 2009
Reflections on space and light in Iceland:
Iceland’s landscape strikes me as a kind of inspiration for organic minimalism. The space where the land meets the sea, and sea meets the sky forms a double horizon line. The textures of the lava fields, volcanic rocks, and glacial gravel do not create the kind of places you’d want to spread out your blanket for a picnic.
The houses squat low on the landscape, hunkering down in the thin veneer of volcanic soil, much like the early Viking long houses. These old shelters were almost, subterranean, built of turf because construction materials were scarce and winters were fierce. Many of the today’s farms are white, contrasting with the green valleys and dark basaltic cliffs. In the cities, buildings are often painted bright yellows, oranges and blues, as if in defiance of the short sunless days of winter but also in celebration of the long days of the artic summer.
Galvanized steel forms a corrugated exoskeleton on many of the buildings.
The light of summer is long and clean. What’s most striking is the twilight that extends well past midnight, in a slow pastel waltz from orange, to pink, to purple.
Iceland’s sparseness fills the eye.