Our Artists and Competition Winners!

We're really excited to announce the names of the artists who will be joining us for the first Wildfjords Artist Residency (WFAR) in July 2014. We have great variety and depth of experience and can't wait to welcome them to the Westfjords. 

We also have two competition winners joining us for the first complete trail in June; please find links to/their winning entries below. 

Photo by  Tanja Geis

Photo by Tanja Geis


Kate Angus is a writer of prose and poetry dealing with biology, archetypal motifs and historical narratives.

http://publet.com/nowhere/costa-rica-notes.html &    http://therumpus.net/2013/11/salt-a-triptych/

Emma Houlihan is an artist whose work engages people with places and people with people, offering new perspectives on everyday situations. Emma adopts walking as a form of performative research - a tool for fresh interaction between landscape and communities.

http://www.burrencollege.ie/people/emma-houlihan & http://www.leitrimsculpturecentre.ie/programme/residencies/2009/res_emma_houlihan.html

Gemma Messih is an artist exploring the human relationship to natural phenomenon and the desire for connection inherent in all of us – they use photography, video, sculpture and installation.


Danica Novgorodoff is a published graphic novelist whose tales of epic journeys, anti-heroes, ancient folklore and modern love often find their inspiration from her own journeys.


Jonathan Farmer is an actor, puppeteer, teacher and photographer whose work is reflexive, participatory and experimental. Themes of loneliness, hope, death and growth run through his work.


Pam Posey is an artist with previous experience in Iceland, her work combines art and science in a speculative interpretation of the natural world and her current project ‘Stone Dislocation’ has been dubbed a form of lithic anarchy.


Logan T. Sibrel is a painter who examines the fragmented nature of identity through rendering and erasure, inclusion and omission, and who alternately assumes the roles of diarist and documentarian.


Garth Wallbridge is a lawyer, business executive and indigenous leader in Canada’s North West Territories; also a photographer and writer of books on subjects including: youth leadership programs for aboriginals; the role jail in today’s society; and hiking.


Deb Todd Wheeler is new media artist who blurs the lines between sculpture, performative objects, installations, video, photography, and audioscapes to produce an energetic and evolutionary study of the found and created sublime.


Haleidoscope, Tanja Geis

Haleidoscope, Tanja Geis

The Competition Winners

First place: Connie Butler wins a place on North Section: Wild Food and Pack Horses

Video piece titled, 'Millennium Promenade' 


Second place: Kate Harel wins a place on South Section: Wild Stories

Written piece titled, 'My trek through Dragon Isle' 

Dragon Isle, where I live, is a beautiful, enchanted island, which has only one drawback: its ruler, Dragon Lord Brekelore, demands payment of a gold bullion brick from anyone leaving the island.

I had just won a ticket to a faraway land, and wanted to leave the island, but had no gold bullion to pay the Dragon Lord. If I could elude the Dragon Patrol, I could get to the small rowboat hidden at Griffin’s Canal, at the other end of the island.

I packed only what I needed, donned my hiking shoes, and set out on my trek. After crossing the prickly Thorn River, I climbed Mount Sillyous, where every step forward takes you two steps back. I stopped for a quick rest, and continued my journey through the frightening caverns of Yoth, lit solely by the flapping wings of the Lightening Bazbatroths. Having braved the dark cave, I arrived at the Everpure Forest, an enchanted woodland, home to such magical creatures as dancing elves and fiddler frogs.

While walking through the seemingly endless wood, which was getting darker by the minute, I met Viraellio the talking butterfly, and asked her if she could lead me to the canal.

“I know a shortcut. Follow me,” she said. We drank some nectar from the Smiling Orchid and off we went. After fluttering her way through the thickets and rocks that filled the forest, we could see the shore, and not a dragon guard in sight. I thanked Viraellio and continued on my own.

But the Dragon Patrol was more watchful than I’d expected, and as my weary legs reached the docking boat, a ball of fire stopped me in my tracks. “Who dares to leave without payment?” roared the dragon guard. Too petrified to reply, I looked into his eyes for mercy, and noticed that unlike other dragons, whose eyes are yellowish-green, his were as blue as Lake Langisjor.

“Please, sir,” I pleaded, “I have no gold. I just wanted to sail to Iceland for a hiking trip.” “Iceland?!” he exclaimed. “I’m from Iceland!” “You’re kidding! Where from?” I asked. “From Galdurfjord, in the south!” he cried joyously. “That’s where I’m headed! If you let me sail, that is.” He checked to make sure no one was looking, and whispered: “I wouldn’t want to stop you from visiting my beautiful homeland.” And with one push, he set me sailing safely to Galdurfjord.

His name was Draupnir the Dragon, and I owe my 2014 Wildfjords hiking trip to him.

Black sand, photo by Tanja Geis 

Black sand, photo by Tanja Geis 



A message from the land, from the sea

I have recently returned from a week on Scotland’s Knoydart peninsula. I was there to take part in a Natural Change facilitation workshop. Natural Change, as led by David Key and Margaret Kerr, is a process of getting people to sense nature, rather than comprehend it with facts and figures and names. To do this, it provides facilitated nature experiences where you are totally immersed in nature and where your sense of identity begins to expand out to include the living and non-living elements of a given land or seascape. When this new way of relating happens, so the theory says, people begin to care more about the environment and will make decisions that support a wild ethic. 

A wild ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land and sea, Aldo Leopold.

Light of Various Senses #3 - acrylic, watercolour, ink, crayon,  Daniel Crockett

Light of Various Senses #3 - acrylic, watercolour, ink, crayon, Daniel Crockett

At its heart, Wildfjords aims to get you experiencing nature in an inspiring and enjoyable way, one which excites your senses and helps you realise a universal ‘natural’ identity. This is a process of animal-like relating (to the environment), where rational thought is suspended and experience is allowed to take front stage. Carl Jung’s take on it: 

“I stood on the peak in the strange thin air, looking into the real world, the secret, where there are no teachers, no schools, no unanswerable questions, where one can be without having to ask anything”

In my experience, this practice of just being and experiencing without using human constructs to interpret the world creates allows an inner alignment with the external environment, a kind of tapping into an inherent architecture of the mind, where seamlessness between everything exists. A stunning portrayal of this seamlessness is found throughout Sjón’s novel, ‘From the Mouth of the Whale’. Set in the Westfjords, 1635, the protagonist, Jónas the Learned, is banished to an island for heretical conduct, where he recounts with horrendous darkness and real delight the interwoven fabric of existence and of how some people respond unknowingly with fear and some with clarified empathy and fascination.

Untitled, charcoal on paper, 2013,  Tanja Geis

Untitled, charcoal on paper, 2013, Tanja Geis

“Now it seems to us natural philosophers that not only is a connection possible between living things – but the lord has placed in the haversack of every creature a book containing the recipes for all the rest....the same versatile sap of life flows through them all as that which flows deep down in the earth.....a cat sits not on hind legs but on a tail, which swells from the hip and curls like a lobster tail, while the cat’s nose is formed from a bunch of berries and about its neck is a collar studded with precious gems” Excerpt adapted, ‘From the Mouth of the Whale’, Sjón

It’s an honour to walk in the Westfjords, to sense its history, its deep summer vibrancy and to feel our own in the process.  

Death Grin

A poem I wrote whilst walking and researching the trail, Summer 2013. Photo by Þorstein Mársson


Death Grin

A sun shelled night save a few nesting terns

That bounce on sharp wings that clutch at the sky

Then fold their sharp wings and aim for my eye

I run to surrender, afraid I might die!

They re-group then remember their task to fly

I’m welcomed like this, Iceland’s summer has peaked

Razorbills, guillemots, puffins replete

An orca lies stranded, though grins in defeat

The sound of a plover whistling plaintive retreat

I too then remember my task in time

I’m here in the Westfjords, Iceland’s oldest rock

To create a new trail that will embody and top

Many wild fjords that then make the drop

To a crushing green ocean that provides for the flock

The trail’s whole distance, or so I am told

Will quadruple the distance of any trail of old

Though the routes to be walked are as ancient as gold

Old pathways of Vikings, their poets and hoards

Now, the path still carries a treasure of gold

Those ancient patterns that strengthen the soul

The black sand beaches on which grows söl

The four horned creatures with lint in their wool

Through time the rivers flow accustomed lines

You’ll find those lines inside your mind

When you visit here, Iceland’s oldest retreat

Hot springs, rainbows, the beat of our feet