Inspirational Iceland with Gala Gonzalez

Inspirational Iceland with Gala Gonzalez

Galadriel Gonzalez is a photographer whose travels around the world has inspired her to develop new dimensions to her artistic creativity. Nordique caught up with Gala to discuss her work and how her trip to Iceland led to her fascinating new art project - creating moss installations inspired by the beautiful landscapes.

"Afternoon sand patters on the black sand beach by Hvítserkur, near Skagaströnd the village where I lived.”

"Afternoon sand patters on the black sand beach by Hvítserkur, near Skagaströnd the village where I lived.”

Tell us more about you and your work!

I was born in Spain but raised in Kenya. I lived in the capital Nairobi but as my parents were working in the safari industry I spent a great deal of time in the bush, surrounded by nature and wildlife. My mum is a ceramics sculptor and my father an art collector, so I have always lived in a very artistic household which encouraged me to explore that part of myself. After travelling and moving a lot, I studied fine arts in South Africa and now continue to travel and move around a lot.

“Abstract textures of the wave patterns made by the incoming tide at Hvítserkur.”

“Abstract textures of the wave patterns made by the incoming tide at Hvítserkur.”

My work is my passion! Photography has always been a constant area of interest for me, as wildlife photography was a natural evolution from going on safari so much. Otherwise, my visual art has passed through different mediums, until reaching sculpture and installation art and currently working with textiles. However, my sculpture work feeds heavily off my travels and photography, since the photography documents my environments and my installation then reflects that environment and my adaptation to it.

Outside of work and travel, my passion is food! Especially trying new dishes from different cultures. I will legitimately go out of my way and travel to a town that I heard has a particularly spectacular dish/restaurant.

“Mossy road into Landmannalaugar, my first glimpse into the Icelandic highlands!”

“Mossy road into Landmannalaugar, my first glimpse into the Icelandic highlands!”

“These pitch dark hills topped with velvety moss, so common in the highlands, were a huge inspiration for my sculptures.”

“These pitch dark hills topped with velvety moss, so common in the highlands, were a huge inspiration for my sculptures.”

What did you love most about your travels in Iceland?

My favourite thing has to be the raw, untainted nature. It sort of reminds me of Kenya but is also the opposite, so I feel a sense of distant familiarity. I think what connects the two for me is that in both countries you can pretty much drive 20 minutes in any direction and find yourself in an otherworldly setting.

Also, the lack of wildlife is something new and different for me. I liked how when photographing it made me have to focus and appreciate more the terrain and shapes of the earth - I had to look at the bigger picture.

And of course the hot pools! There is nothing more cozy than taking a break from the coldest days in a natural hot pool. They make any day an instant great day.

I also have to mention the food. It has a well earned reputation of being expensive but I have yet to have a meal in Iceland that is anything less than amazing!

“Different types of soils in the highlands. In the same hour you could walk on dusty black sand and on soft beige clay. That path was so steep and tiring but the view was so rewarding!”

“Different types of soils in the highlands. In the same hour you could walk on dusty black sand and on soft beige clay. That path was so steep and tiring but the view was so rewarding!”

“Dynjandi in Autumn. This is definitely my favourite out of the famous waterfalls. Probably because I saw it with hardly any other people (see the tiny man at the top for scale) and it started to lightly snow while i was there which made it extra magical.”

“Dynjandi in Autumn. This is definitely my favourite out of the famous waterfalls. Probably because I saw it with hardly any other people (see the tiny man at the top for scale) and it started to lightly snow while i was there which made it extra magical.”

“Jökulsárlón, also one of my favourite spots. It is perfect when you manage to avoid the crowds (either at 4am in summer or in one of the little 'side beaches' away from the main parking area in winter), the water stands almost still and you just here the slow groans of the icebergs crushing into each other.”

“Jökulsárlón, also one of my favourite spots. It is perfect when you manage to avoid the crowds (either at 4am in summer or in one of the little 'side beaches' away from the main parking area in winter), the water stands almost still and you just here the slow groans of the icebergs crushing into each other.”

Where did you go during your trip?

This is the second trip that I have made there. The first trip was my 25th birthday present, and I travelled around the Golden Ring road. This year I wanted to stay longer. I lived three months in an artist residency in Skagaströnd, a small village in the northwest, and then I travelled for another month. I got to visit places that I didn't get the chance to see last year, like the Westfjords and Landmannalaugar, as well as experience rural everyday life.

“Lonely ice block outside Seyðisfjörður. The drive into each of the Eastfjords is quite otherworldly, as to reach the fjord you have to drive quite high up the mountain and then steeply down into the towns by the water. When I went in summer, the altitude meant almost always a thick layer of cold mist where you could barely see two metres in front of you, which then opened up into a lovely sunny day when you started to drive down into the towns.”

“Lonely ice block outside Seyðisfjörður. The drive into each of the Eastfjords is quite otherworldly, as to reach the fjord you have to drive quite high up the mountain and then steeply down into the towns by the water. When I went in summer, the altitude meant almost always a thick layer of cold mist where you could barely see two metres in front of you, which then opened up into a lovely sunny day when you started to drive down into the towns.”

How did it inspire you for your current moss project?

I find moss to be one of the most striking features of the Icelandic landscape. One of the first things you see when you get off the plane is the moss covered volcanic rock fields on the drive from Keflavik to Reykjavik. In Skagaströnd we were also lucky to be presided over by a beautiful mossy mountain which has a big role in the story of Þórdís the Prophetess, the first person to move there. This, along with learning about the local mythology of elves, so closely linked to the earth and nature, gave me my subject matter.

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“My first moss rock in its natural habitat. Made of cotton, velvet and Icelandic wools.”

“My first moss rock in its natural habitat. Made of cotton, velvet and Icelandic wools.”

As for the medium (wool), I like incorporating in my installations materials which are uniquely local and have either some current or traditional significance - they bring the essence of the place. The wool is unique because it only comes from Icelandic sheep, which are a different breed to all others in the world. Woollen sweaters, and knitting in general, is something I encountered with everyone I met, so much that even in the smallest of towns with limited resources, the one thing you are guaranteed to find for sale is wool.

“My knitted 'moss/vegetation shapes incorporated into the real mossy landscape!”

“My knitted 'moss/vegetation shapes incorporated into the real mossy landscape!”



Master cabinetmaker Antrei Hartikainen

Master cabinetmaker Antrei Hartikainen

Interior design with Janniche from Blogga i Bagis

Interior design with Janniche from Blogga i Bagis