Iceland .... a work in progress
What’s the word that would describe the bit between a real interest and obsession? Whatever it is that’s the way I feel about Iceland. I don’t mind admitting that it came first from music and specifically maybe Sigur-Ros. That sometimes atonal drone sound of post rock came at me like an invisible force and sparked an Iceland interest. It was like no other sound I’d heard before, influenced from and by other places and things and yet it’s own separate special noise formed by itself in it’s own shape and reflecting not just a musical influence but the land and country of it’s origin too. Sometimes though things, places and people are always there inside you waiting to be realised and discovered. Such it was with Iceland.
Vaguely influenced by Scandinavia and still with strong relationships with them geopolitically, Iceland is inherently it’s its own country and land. Proudly sitting in the middle of the north Atlantic, looking after itself despite the “constant” weather that it gets, independent and individualistic, holding this situation dear and close to itself and well it should. Many places in the world now suffer from the fate of diluting their history and culture but the trick with Iceland is that because of this remote mid ocean location, less than hospitable weather and despite it being well served by flights from north America and Europe there will always be many parts of the island that will always be pretty inaccessible to the myriad of coach tours and long weekend visitors that it gets.
My first thoughts of actually visiting the place coincided with the time Iceland was appearing on the world map, though not for the right reason with it’s part in the 2007/8 crash, but in truth the interest with the place probably was there long before all of that. I’d seen pictures of various parts of it and struggled to think that that there was a place like this existing on planet earth, and it wasn’t the result of a special effects department somewhere. Enormous crashing waterfalls, bubbling steamy holes and slices in the earth left over from earthquakes — all of this and more and only two hours flying from London!
It’s like no other place on earth. But it was always going to be being the messy result of a join in the earths crust of three tectonic plates where they meet and grind together. And just like a teenagers skin it’s the result of the spewing of lava from below for thousands of years, all relatively new as far as earth is concerned, it’s a unique view of what this planet may have looked like millions of years ago. The place itself is as someone described “a huge national park” that’s open (virtually) everywhere all the time and free. Just take a turn off a main road into the interior and away from the few towns there are, and you’re beamed Star Trek like into a deserted world in a far off galaxy with otherworldly landscapes that fill your eyeline. Miles and miles of primordial lava fields with random shapes stretch invitingly into the distance. Look down and fractal like the landscape changes into smaller detailed landscapes with every view with lichen, moss and the lava itself a constantly changing canvas. Then by contrast water crashes over massive drops constantly and seemingly forever at any of the many waterfalls here, wide and fierce, or tall, slender and graceful.
It’s like a house that’s still being built and decorated on a grand scale, in places the land is being greened with plant life and in others the land itself is being built by geysers or the movement of the plates themselves that Iceland itself is built on. It is in all respects a work in progress.