Threds on land

Visual art in seven parts by Borghildur Óskarsdóttir

The work is the history of five generations who lived in seven locations in the southern uplands of Rangárvellir County, from 1760 to 1941. The beginning of the historical thread is Reynifell in Rangárvellir. From there it runs up to Landsveit, to six locations: Mörk, Gamli­Klofi, Stóri­Klofi, Gamla Skarðssel, Skarðssel by Þjórsá and Skarfanes. This is the story of common people in a magnificent landscape where nature is constantly being recreated by volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and harsh weather.

In this countryside, on the periphery of settlement and wilderness, my father ́s ancestors farmed and his mother was born and raised. In some places, the traces of their lives can still be seen; dry stone walls, the odd house wall and overgrown ruins. The mountains soar on the horizon, each in its own shape, and Hekla, the Queen herself, takes centre place on the rim of the highlands.

The main lines in the landscape run from the highlands in the northeast to the sea in the southwest. Lines of heaths and hills, fells and mountains and water courses trace the land along these lines. The nature is dramatic and beautiful but we know it can also be menacing.

My father fired in me an interest in the family thread of our ancestors. He took me with him to the places these people had farmed and I became fascinated by these southern uplands. Narratives of the people are connected to the countryside and to the places where they were born, where they lived and where they died. Those narratives are woven into this landscape.

In a way, historical places are holy places. The history of the people is our roots and the roots lie in the land. If we know the history and respect it, that respect is transferred onto places, onto nature.