Julia Lohmann

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Thursday, September 17th, 2009

On tour around Myvatn

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Tangible Nothingness

It is difficult to express or photograph the nothingness that surrounds us as we drive through the country. The absence of anything giving us a sense of scale of the landscape is stunning just as the infinite details we see for miles, in the soil and rocks, the colours of the plants, the changes in light, wind and water.

Click on the images to enlarge them and use the back button to get back to the gallery overview.

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

On tour in Northern Iceland

We went on a three day tour to Glaumbaer, Grettislaug, the Midfjordur Rettir and around the Skaga peninsula, to Kalfshamasvik and Ketubjorg.

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Curious locals watch us as we head out on our weekend excursion.

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On the way to the sheep roundup at Svinadalur we stopped at Graefekirkja near Hofsos, one of the oldest churches in Iceland. It is is set in a circular pre-Christian earthwork and built from turf, driftwood and basalt rocks.

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Also near Hofsos is a modern farm, built using the same materials. Viewed from a few hundred metres away, it melts into the landscape.

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Glaumbae is a 18th/19th Century farming estate consisting of 16 interconnected turf and driftwood buildings. We saw it in glorious sunshine and learned a lot about rural life and work, as well as architecture before the advent of steel-reinforced concrete, corrugated iron and other modern materials. Gero and also I indulged in homemade Icelandic pancakes, sherry cake and hot chocolate at Askaffi, an 1880’s Danish-Icelandic building near the farm.
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Dotted around the country are small mounds and hills with nipples on top. We decided to investigate:

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Here’s our theory: Soil is eroded from the rocky mounds. Birds use the uppermost rock as a look-out and mark their territory. They keep on marking and marking and marking, turning it into the best-fertilised and seed-richest spots in the area – nipples.

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Rugged Icelandic countryside looking rather feminine.

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Gero happy in his natural outdoor habitat, before we go for a quick dip in the hot spring Grettislaug. The legendary outlaw Grettir the Strong took a bath here after he swam ashore from the island Drangey when the fire in his hearth went out. To find out what happened next, have a look in the popular saga written about him.

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In the afternoon, we stop at the sheep round-up in Svinadalur. Here’s one of the first arrivals, showing off the latest in highland woolens.

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5 September 2009

Jule and Johanna, who worked as fellow farmhands during Julia’s first stay in Iceland returned to join us for a reunion and to ride in and watch the Bjargsholl horse and sheep round-up.

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The horses come in from the highlands.

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The Rett is full of new arrivals and the sorting begins.

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A farming veteran directing horses to their enclosures.

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A horse waiting to be ridden to its farm pastures.

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In the afternoon, the sheep start arriving from the highlands, driven on horseback and by quad. They quickly fill up the valley and Rett, the traditional circular enclosures used to sort sheep.

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6 September 2009

For the horse and sheep round-up near Bjargsholl farm we stayed at Balkastadir, the home of local farrier Sig Ingvi Bjornson and his sheepdog Fija. Both were totally exhausted, having walked more than 30 km driving sheep from the highlands. This and sorting sheep and horses all of the following day didn’t stop Ingvi from playing and singing with his family band at gig at another post-round-up ball until 6 am.

Walking along the beach the next morning, Fija couldn’t help but round up a few more stray sheep for us.

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We went to see Kalfshamarsvik, an old fishing village on the Skaga peninsula. Of the settlement, only turf walls and a lighthouse remain, framed by huge coastal basalt columns towering tall like cathedrals.

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Other abandoned seaside settlements.

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The weather closing in over the lakes near Hraun.

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An forgotten farmstead, somewhere near Hvalnes on the Skaga peninsula.

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Ketubjorg with its waterfalls and cliff top seagull colonies offers stunning views along the northern coast.

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And we found some huge mushrooms for dinner.

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Along the route back to Siglufjordur we were treated to an amazing sunset and saw hay bale land art created by local farmers. The rocky island in the distance is Drangey, the home of legendary saga outlaw Grettir the Strong.

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Friday, February 27th, 2009

Confronting taboos with Subtle Humour, by Alice Rawsthorn

Today a great article by Alice Rawsthorn about my work was published in the International Herald Tribune. You can permanently read it here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/27/arts/27iht-design2.1.20486090.html?_r=1&scp=3&sq=julia%20lohmann&st=cse

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

From Salmon Skin to Leather

Today, S-AIR hosted the second salmon skin workshop. Under the expert tuition of an Ainu instructor we learned how to transform salmon skins into supple white leather. After a short demonstration he quickly got us to do the work (especially the two boys in the group) while he supervised with a very dignified air.

So how does Ainu fish-leather-making work? The salmon skins are rolled up and laid in a groove cut into a massive wooden block. Under constant turning, they are then hammered with a large wooden mallet until they are soft. They are then ‘broken’ further in another wooden contraption before the scales can be removed with tweezers or pliers. Et voila – salmon skin leather.

Normally, it takes two days of relentless pummeling before the salmon skins are supple enough to be used for clothing. I think everyone who took part will remember the favourite words of our otherwise monosyllabic instructor for a long long time: “mada mada” [phonetic spelling, probably quite wrong], which translates as “Not yet, not yet” – or more to the point: “Get on with it!”.

To reward everyone for their hard labour we concluded the workshop with drinks and a feast of European and Japanese salmon dishes, followed by a screening of German short films from the Sapporo Short Film Festival showreel.

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Our instructor shows how it is done.

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Salmon skin about to be pummeled into submission

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Mada mada!

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Get on with it!

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Top: unprocessed salmon skin; bottom left: softened skin, scales partially removed; bottom right: the finished salmon skin leather.

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Detail of softened salmon skin, scales partially removed.

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The workshop participants tuck into a well-earned dinner.

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

Submersed in Sapporo

On a location visit to the building which will house our final exhibition, we discover a hidden apartment including a tatami room and adjoining bath. It is empty apart from a few newspapers dating back to the 1960s. We are speechless when we discover how the bath was heated – with a giant submersion heater! (see below) Later that day we finalise the exhibition layout at Cafe Zill, a cozy local hideaway with lots of lumberjack charm.

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The infamous submersion heater…

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…and how it is used.

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Cafe Zill

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What else did we see today? A pet shop which looked more like a dachshund dispenser, selling dogs like fashion accessories…

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…and a shop selling canine lingerie.