For someone preoccupied with drawing boundaries, splits, fissures, the acts of pulling apart and drawing together, consolidation and disintegration, the Icelandic landscape contains multitudes of sketches awaiting capture on paper. Everywhere I look, here on the beautiful Snaefellsnes peninsula there is something I want to draw. It's overwhelming.
For the last few days I've been drinking it all in; taking huge gulps of ideas and making a mental inventory of the patterns of rocks and hills and waterfalls; already hatched and striated and abstracted like a ready-made diagram of the landscape's formation.
In Stykkisholmer I've found the perfect place to extract that inventory and get it in a sketchbook. Vatnasafn (The Library of Water) is contained within what was once an old Art Deco library perched on the hill overlooking the harbour and the scattering of islands beyond. The building contains an installation by artist Roni Horn: huge clear cylinders of water collected from glaciers around Iceland which reach from floor to ceiling, a chess board and some chairs in which to sit and look out the huge bay window (or draw in). Having paid the entry at the museum at the bottom of the hill a code is scribbled on a scrap of paper and you can let yourself in, take off your shoes, stay as long as you like......It feels a little like stumbling into a Murakami novel.
Ive been curled up here for the best part of two days now and for much of the time there has been no one else here. Occasionally curious people walk past the bay window, looking in at me as part of the installation. We smile tentatively at one another through the glass. In between drawing I look up to what appears to be a replication of where I grew up but wider and more spacious, like a repeating wallpaper transforming somewhere familiar (the view is exactly like that from Crinan on the west coast of Scotland) into a new vista.
Tomorrow I'm heading north but it will be hard to leave this space behind. If only every town had a Library of Water. Perhaps they should.