Julia Lohmann



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.


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


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.


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


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.



Dotted around the country are small mounds and hills with nipples on top. We decided to investigate:


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.


Rugged Icelandic countryside looking rather feminine.


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.


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.


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.


The horses come in from the highlands.


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


A farming veteran directing horses to their enclosures.


A horse waiting to be ridden to its farm pastures.


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.



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.


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.




Other abandoned seaside settlements.


The weather closing in over the lakes near Hraun.


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


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



And we found some huge mushrooms for dinner.




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.



Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Arrival in Siglufjordur


On our way from Reykjavik to Siglufjordur we stopped – among other places – at Hofsos, a village with a natural harbour which made it one of Iceland’s oldest trading posts. We strolled along the basalt column coastline until our bus driver picked us up again. He drove along at lightning speed, only slowing down for sheep or when a police 4×4 was in sight. Apart from ferrying passengers up north our driver doubled as postman, delivering everything from food for petrol station shops and spare parts for garages to fish for friends in the villages along the way.


This is Herhusid, our home for the next four weeks. The residency centre, an old prayer house and former Salvation Army post, sits right in the centre of Siglufjordur. The town on the northern coast of Iceland was the country’s herring capital until its heyday ended with the world economic depression of 1929 and the decline of fish stocks. Siglufjordur is set on a small peninsula in a fjord with blueberry-loaded hillsides, grazing sheep, ptarmigan and small waterfalls. We’ll explore and will keep you posted.


Checking out the online weather forecast in our flat above the studio.

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

Nature through Artifice – In Residence in Torino


Together with Pieke Bergmans, Studio Libertiny, Raw Edges and Liliana Ovalle I was invited to spend a long weekend in Turin to discuss notions of nature and artifice. We gave presentations about our work and facilitated a design workshop for University students from Turin. The residency was organised by Barbara Brondi and Marco Raino of BRH+ Studio.

The results and documentation of the residency will be published in Interni magazine soon.

A big thank you to the team of the Residence du Parc and to Barbara and Marco!


Luci d’Artista Projects in the city of Torino


Daniel Buren’s “Tappeto volante� (1999) and Studio Libertiny


Two of the students presenting their work

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

‘The Conformitory’ at Somerset House from 27 November to 7 December 2008

The Conformitory is designed to make safe elements of nature. It acknowledges our desire to connect with flora, fauna and the environment. However, a thorough risk assessment has shown that any contact needs to be controlled. Visit the Conformitory where we process nature to conform to health and safety standards.

Julia Lohmann & Gero Grundmann

Best known for her elegant lamps made from sheep’s stomachs, designer Julia Lohmann will be resident in the Embankment Galleries’ Studio with Gero Grundmann, for ‘The Conformitory: Nature Contained’, as part of ‘Wouldn’t it be nice… Wishful thinking in art and design’.

Working busily from inside a forensic tent, Lohmann and Grundmann will be manufacturing sanitised, ‘health and safety approved’ versions of the natural world – laminated leaves, perfected branches, nut-free nuts and more…

The Conformitory at ‘Wouldn’t it be nice… Wishful thinking in art and design’, Somerset House, Strand London WC2R 1LA, 27 November – 7 December 2008

For press enquiries please contact: Tom.Coupe@SomersetHouse.org.uk





Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

‘Resilience’ concrete and wool tables – Design Miami/Basel 2008

designed for the ‘Designers of the Future Award’ exhibition

The ‘Resilience’ series tables on display

The ‘Resilience’ concrete and wool tables on display

My response to the concrete and wool brief set by Design Miami/Basel is based on research into manmade structures that are exposed to the elements, re-conquered by nature and demolished by humans as well as the effects of natural disasters on the built environment.

The concrete and wool objects on show play with a role reversal of qualities we associate with manmade and natural materials. Concrete, which is normally considered a structural and long-lasting material, is cast in two-dimensional forms onto a woven wool backing. Then, in a design process that harnesses destructive force and the ‘undesirable’ effects of decay as a creative tool, the concrete shapes are broken up. Held together by wool, normally deemed the weaker material of the two, the fragmented forms are then reconfigured into three-dimensional shapes and fixed. This process allows the creation of a wide range of unique objects based on shapes cast in a single mould.

‘Designers of the Future Award’ display Design Miami/Basel 2008

A view of my section of the ‘Designers of the Future Award’ display

‘Resilience’ concrete and wool table - tall version

The high ‘Resilience’ table

‘Resilience’ concrete and wool table - low version

The low ‘Resilience’ table

For further information please visit: www.designmiami.com
© Julia Lohmann 2008