9/9/9... it is a day to write and so I write....some of you may already know that I moved from Ireland to Iceland in June of 2015 and Ive been finding my feet ever since. Its been a busy time with settling into a new culture and way of life and so much has happened. So instead of dedicating a post to each event of significance I though I could summarize it here in one instead, actually maybe two as I've just made a list and its quite long... So I'll begin to begin...
Just as I was about to leave Ireland I was given a great piece of advice by a fellow creative, come to think of it it was actually something I had said in conversation, then it had been paraphrased back to me. To sum it up is simple.... express your truth otherwise it will just eat you up on the inside...with that in mind and now permanently scripted into the front page of my fresh tidy new moleskin notebook I was ready to begin the adventures.
I arrived to a house full of almost twenty early twenties volunteer participants who had sat in for the night playing drinking games. To say the least it was a little of a shock to my mid thirties coming from a quiet life in the countryside self. After a day or two I settled a bit and began the role of house mother, photographic teacher and general organizer of everything that the volunteers should require on their 10 day stays in Iceland. Working with SEEDS lasted from June to December with a total of 11 projects, groups, exhibitions and experiences in the house, all of the them so vastly different.
During this time I also undertook a project with the Redcross day center called Vin where I ran a six week photography project which also resulted in an exhibition of their work. The participants all suffered from varying degrees of mental illness. I found it very interesting on one of the days as I was discussing my internal process as an artist. One of the more creative and engaged participants responded that that was the same way he felt and that maybe I should start taking the same medication as him....I smiled and simply responded with maybe he was just an artist like me. Its simply part and package of the deal, the lows inform the highs and the highs inform the lows, that is the normal cycle in the life of a creative.
Before leaving home I had participated in a portfolio review at the Belfast photography festival showing some of my photography work. The conversations which resulted encouraged me to stop playing so safe with my photography indicating it was time to begin to merge all my creative skills together. What resulted were a series of self portraits with a character dressed in black which would develop even further in Iceland. I also found myself painting again, my style was also turning into something new. It wasn't long before I needed a creativity chest to store my ever growing collection of materials. There is something about this land and being here, it has brought my work to a whole different level and allowed me to tap a much freer flowing form of expression. Long may it continue.
In August and September I managed to have my images published twice in the national media, once with the Reykjavik Grapevine with an image from a SEEDS project the Meet Us Don't Eat Us anti whaling campaign where volunteers delivered their petition of postcards to Icelandic fisheries board. I also made a cameo appearance in the background evening news covering the same story. In September MBL published one of my images in a story about one of the crew members on our sailing expedition through the Scoresbysund in August, but that journey deserves its own post....so more about that later...
It was also during this time that I was starting to have some positive feedback coming about my self portraiture work. One of the images I had entered in a competition with the global online platform Lensculture had been ranked one of the highest rated images of the whole years worth of entries. Its always nice to know what your working on is having an impact and that your on the right track with a project.
Encouragement from all sides was swiftly followed when I was invited to participate in the Develop North Outdoor Exhibition in Aberdeen, Scotland. This project was to be delayed for some time so more on that one in the next post. On top of all this I was able to attend the lighting of John Lennon's Peace tower on Viðey Island by Yoko Ono. It is always inspiring for me to be in the presence of controversial artists.
The alternative healer in me was also being nourished as I had made contact with, attended and worked some events. The events were run by a lady who I happened to meet in the park beside my house in August and involved a national group of Icelandic healers. The people meet four to five times a year in different regions of the country for 4-5 day events which celebrate and embrace alternative healing methods. I'm glad to say they have taken me in as one of their own, which has been a lovely experience.
A lot had happened in just a six month period and in December I returned home for almost a month and was set to return in January to a new apartment and post SEEDS life in Reykjavik. Time to knuckle down and start building a serious life in Reykjavik...
Aishling Muller is a cross platform artist working mainly with lens based media. She is currently based in Iceland.