Tag Archives: Gigjokull glacier

The Hidden People

8 Dec

This is definitely my last blog about my recent trip to Iceland, probably. Our most excellent guide, Olafur, told us about the hidden people, the Huldufólk,   supernatural beings who live in rock formations and only rarely show themselves to humans. Many Icelanders believe in their existence.

One day, we went off road in giant jeeps to the Gigjokull glacier. As we drew near the ‘tongue’ of the glacier I noticed a vast snow-covered fissure in the icy cliff which clearly had faces staring at our vehicles across the landscape. I kept pointing them out to Husb, but he couldn’t see what I was talking about. I snapped some photos through the bus window and when I got home and put them onto the computer, I could clearly see the faces, still staring out at me. Here they are below; the scale is enormous, people are like tiny ants at the bottom of the cliff.

adjust 2

I rarely work from photos but this one really inspired me, and spooked me out a bit as well, if I’m honest. I’ve spent the past week working on the piece below. It’s size A2 on paper primed with rabbit-skin glue and coloured randomly with thin washes of yellow, red and blue acrylic paint. I’ve worked up the image in black and white oil bars.

huldenfolk 2

The faces are so obvious to me, I can see four, dominated by a rather imperious woman. There are many legends about their origin. The one that interests me most is that they’re descended from Lilith, the first wife of the biblical Adam, who ran off with the fallen angel, Samael, because Adam was a bit rubbish. In the Jewish tradition she had many children by Samael, including the Lilin, her daughters reputed to steal newborn babies, but I hadn’t come across this Icelandic version before. This was very hard to draw, it took ages to make the faces appear, almost as if they wanted to remain hidden. Spooky.

That’s the last about Iceland, unless I can ever save up enough to go back. Many thanks to Discover The World for putting together such a fantastic adventure.

Floyd On Ice

3 Dec

on the road

Travelling across Iceland with Olafur The Guide, Otto The Driver and a gaggle of, mostly, babyboomers, we went off-road in some giant jeeps up to the Gigjokull glacier. We’d had three days of deep snow, which was spectacular but unfortunately it meant that we weren’t able to see any Aurorae because of the heavy cloud cover. We set off in darkness and a blizzard (it’s so far north that sun didn’t rise until about 10am) and headed for a rendevous with our intrepid drivers, who said very seriously that the snowstorms had made conditions on the glacier treacherous and that some jeeps had been having difficulties getting into the wilderness. Then they grinned broadly with a gung-ho, bring-it-on spirit and we loaded ourselves into the jeeps and off we went on an adventure.

Truck

Look what Husb found!

The conditions were certainly the roughest I’ve experienced, and I’ve been up the Karakoram Highway! But hell, what fun! There were no roads and only the occasional track sketched very faintly in the deep snow. The landscape changes all the time; rivers alter their courses; the riverbanks can collapse without warning; all good stuff. The guys we were with knew what they were doing; they’ve been going into the wilderness since they were kids and they loved it.

Blue ice 1

The landscape is so amazing; my feeble sketch doesn’t begin to do it justice (mind you, my fingers nearly froze off after about 30 seconds, so I’m not going to beat myself up over it). On the journey back to the road, we hit a very steep river gully and there were a sticky few minutes when the jeep really struggled to pull itself out of the river and up the other side. As it strained its way up the riverbank through feet of snow, the driver cranked up the volume on the hifi and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon blared out to the cheers of the jeepload of babyboomers. Surreal and spectacular. When I first heard that album, almost 4 decades ago, I never dreamt that I’d ever hear it in circumstances like this. If I’d died at that moment, I’d have died happy :D.

blue ice 2

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