Baer – First impressions

I’ve been at Baer (pronounced ‘Buy’ with a hint of a rolled ‘r’ on the end) for two long days now and its more spectacular than I dared to hope.

The accommodation is luxurious (in a minimal, modern way). The hospitality of our host, Steinunn Jónsdóttir, is delightful and never ending. The location is perfect and the natural environment is breathtaking. All five artists at the residency have been in a state shock for the last two days as we have struggled to take in the gift that we’ve been given.

It’s hard for me to know where to start! First the studios, then I’ll venture out into the immediate environment and further afield over the next few entries. I’ll keep my explorations and work in progress till a bit later, so that I can continue to experiment, brood and meander for a few more days.

My studio (400 sq.ft.). A small private bedroom and bathroom adjoin with views over the water to the north (and the midnight sun). The easel makes a good hat stand!

Down the sun drenched hall linking the individual studios…

.. to the glass common room facing out on the fjörd Skagafjörður – like being at the helm of a giant landlocked ship.

From the outside you can see the DNA of the building as a restored barn.

The living roof is both contemporary and reflective of traditional Icelandic turf and stone buildings

From further afield both the artist’s studios and the main house come into view nestled at the foot of the escarpment.

Looking East back to the homestead

Baer means ‘place’ in Icelandic or perhaps ‘site’ – an apt name for a place to consider the land and the process of art making.

Looking outwards, the house seems to be totally surrounded by water and mountains. There is the fjord to the south and west, the lake to the north, and the looming escarpment to the east stretching away to the south.

Looking West across Skagafjörður – 2.3oam

The most dominant feature is the huge bare cape  Þórðarhöfðí – like a mythic, giant beached sperm whale.

Þórðarhöfðí at the end of several miles of gravel berm

Due North in the middle of the night (2am), across the lake.

A quick and dirty panorama – fjord on the left, lake on the right.

The light is such an important part of the experience here, with only 3 hours without the sun and those three hours are just a long drawn out sunset extending seamlessly into a sunrise. It is such an  incredibly exciting  experience – like a solar eclipse. I just can’t go to sleep; not because of the jet lag, or the excitement of being in a new place but just for the sheer beauty and strangeness of it.

The only down side is that I haven’t had enough sleep for several days now. So I will post this and resume tomorrow!


  1. David Trubridge July 11, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    AWEsome!! please keep these coming donald as i am hanging on your every word . . and photo. iceland is my favourite place in the world.


    1. Thanks David. Your love of this place is one of the inspirations that bought me here! Its great to have an intense focussed time to smell out one place in detail before Sandra and I take off to see more of Iceland in a few weeks.
      I’ll definitely keep you posted.


      1. David Trubridge July 14, 2012 at 6:08 pm

        i find that listening to local music is another way to “smell out a place”. when i was there i was, of course, introduced to sigur ros who added another dimension to my feeling for the place. just today on spotify i stumbled on this icelandic composer, and if you don’t know him i think he might add to your feeling for those aching spaces: olafur arnalds.

      2. I agree. There is really good music here. Though I’ve yet to see any live. I have been listening to Olafur Arnalds too. I found him while searching for new music by another Icelandic musician who I like – Ólöf Arnalds. Very different! Her ditty for her sister Klara has been floating in my mind the whole time I’ve been here. And I’ve been listening to Zoe Keating amazing Cellist from SF just to keep the home fires burning! Her music matches the feel here nicely. Any other suggestions for me?

      3. David Trubridge July 16, 2012 at 1:59 am

        the only other icelandic musician i know is johann johannsson – a bit more electronic than most arnalds. on a different tack, you might enjoy this intriguing book: ‘Iceland’s Bell’ by Halldor Laxness, iceland’s own nobel prize winning author. written in 1934, it updates an old saga so gives a fascinating insight into old history. i hope you can get it for your kindle app?!

    2. Fantastic! What on earth are you going to do when you come towards the end. Get some sleep so you survive to tell us all. LL


  2. Wow! Inspiring! Can’t wait to see what you’ll do!


  3. Lovely place Donald, very happy for you and looking forward to seeing how this place influences your work. Regarding your quick and dirty panorama, try the iPhone app 360 Panorama by Occipital. Aside from the gyro enabled cool factor it’s a fun way to document spaces.


    1. Yeah, I have it. But I didn’t have my iPhone on me at the time. Its always tricky knowing what to schlepp on a 4 hour hike.
      I’ll do a good panorama at some stage of the proceedings. I want to get a hires one so I’ll probably have to stitch images from my camera together the good old fashioned way!


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