Where is Blönduós?

At about 65° 40′ 0″ N, 20° 18′ 0″ W, Blönduós is a small town in Northwest Iceland where the Textílmiðstöð Íslands – Icelandic Textile Center ( 65.6623273, -20.2933079 ) is situated by the Blanda River and just below the Arctic Circle, which is at 66 degrees north.

First “night” in Blönduós, looking over the river to the old town.

These are references which may help us orient ourselves in space, but do not give us much a sense of place. As artists, we tend to care more about what it is like to experience a place – what a space feels like and what is meaningful or special about it.

Before I had arrived to Blönduós on June 1st, 2024, I had seen pictures of the Textile Center and views of the surrounding area. These were photographs likely taken by past participants in the field school and by our program leader Kathleen who first visited Blönduós in 2016 and fell in love with the place. These fragments of landscape, architecture and sky certainly played on my imagination of what the place might feel like or be like to live in for a month. I arrived at the bus stop at the gas station in the higher part of the town and a new sense of the place formed immediately by the shockingly beautiful mountainous surroundings and view of the sparkling ocean.

Not to mention how the weather quickly changed my sense of place in the first week of settling in. Uncharacteristic for June, we experienced snowfall coupled with heavy periods of rain and winds. The birds sheltered themselves in the bay in front of our residence, and we sheltered inside over our tapestry looms. Overnight, the surrounding mountains changed from a blueish-green dotted with crevasses of stubborn snow to alpine snowy peaks. Once this strange weather system passed, the skies cleared once more, and the hills were alive with “the sound of music” =========== or in this case the sounds of spinning, workshops, knit festivities and birdlife returning in full force!

Spinning workshop with Johanna

More on the process of art making in Blönduós in a later post :).

Vanessa, aka “Van”