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Nottingham Design Overseas Part 2 – Special Guest Blog from Iceland

fancy a swim

You may remember Sarah as our Guest Blogger a few months ago, Sarah contacted me recently to tell me all about an exciting project she is working on in Iceland and offered to send us a few special one off blogs live from Iceland!  So in addition to this weeks Guest Blogs by Steve Larder , Sarah is kindly sharing her Iceland experiences with us.

Turning the tide…
It is surely up to us creatives to learn to be tough these days – to fight to make positive change and weather the storm within the most demanding climates… Here in the land of fire and ice I got a bit carried away and found myself illustrating the concept a little too literally…

It sounded a great idea a few months ago but as the day loomed closer and I became acquainted with the intensity of weather in Reykjavik, I began to realise that even the thought of swimming in the Icelandic ocean is a bit ridiculous. Apparently the secret is to acclimatise oneself gradually from summer through to winter, but I just had to wing it on a snowy day and jump on in there. I wasn’t on my own, as (wise) Icelandic colleague Fjola documented the event from the shoreline and Danish colleague Thomas (who’s wonderful idea it was in the first place) swum as well.

The first surprise arrived when I hit the water and immediately began to hyperventilate uncontrollably. I got a handle of this and then discovered a peculiar sensation rather like being covered in a anaesthetizing cling-film like substance whilst simultaneously stabbed by needles as my body frantically questioned what the hell I was doing to it. This was just the initial shock and after a few moments I found I was swimming quite happily – quite deliriously in fact – until I could feel my legs no more so hobbled unsteadily with very numb feet out of the ocean and in to a nearby hot-tub to defrost. As my body began to make sense again I felt incredibly alive, exhilarated and rather chuffed at managing to complete the mission with dignity intact and colleagues impressed that I had not backed out, screamed or sunk. It was an amazing experience, but I might wear a wetsuit next time.

The Valkyries Return – Eternal Spirits Photoshoot
In the meantime, photographer Marcus Holdsworth arrives today to prepare for the shoot on Friday. The vision – Eternal Spirits rising out of the ashes of a wasteland into a brave new World, features an awe-inspiring signature collection hot off the press from Nottinghams UK Queen of Corsetry Susi Henson. The project has quickly developed from conception over a glass of wine in Nottingham (as many of the best ideas do!) into a unity of current fact and traditional folklore which promises to illustrate the power design has to forge opportunity amidst uncertain times. Multi-disciplinary skills spanning design and academia from Nottingham and Reykjavik have been called into play and all hands have been on deck to get the preparation sorted in good time. Now everything is set and all we can do is talk about the weather – after all in Iceland absolutely anything could happen. With Valkyries involved as an inspiration we are anticipating some dramatic shots…

Cool Design
My key work here which everything has stemmed from has been the ‘Stage It’ Project with Reykjavik University, Nottingham University and three International Businesses (click here for explanation) led by inspirational Research Fellow Dr Marina Candi, and as part of my activity I have been discovering possible links with Icelandic art and design. A real high point was when visiting the Museum of Modern Art. I wandered into an exhibition being set up by a very cool and rather renowned artist, Shoplifter (aka Hrafnhildur Arnardottir) . As she was showing Fjola and I designs worn by Lady Gaga and commissioned by Bjork for her album cover, much of which entail the sculpture of human and synthetic hair – Hrafnhildur explained that she creates her work to have both the aaah (as in wow) and the ewww (as in ewww!) factors. It was definitely aaah from me and I especially love the piece she did for Museum of Modern Art New York for the Design Week – have a look for yourselves.

Icelandic Food
Surprisingly as a non fish eating vegetarian in a place which specialises in rotten shark and a strange type of lobster I’ve found lots of lovely new tastes. Even so, I just had to introduce the classic ‘chip butty with cheese’ to the country – the bar I approached looked quite perplexed at first but then did a fine job – no reason not to visit now!

Meanwhile at the Davenport Shop of Originality

There’s loads going on – collections in from Patrick Turk, Loomtime, Miss Ladysmith and more – new creative lions preparing to launch and the ever changing window seems to be going down a treat… Remember to follow the shop on Facebook and to pop in and say hello when passing…

Signing out – evidently rather inspired by Iceland… Sarah Davenport :) xxx