Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Art, ash and aviation in Iceland

Well, with a little embarrassment I confess that my expectation of what a volcano would look like  was derived from the Tom Hanks movie Joe Versus the Volcano. After an afternoon spent flying above the site of the Eyjafjallojokul eruption I have come to realize that a volcano is not a discreet thing resembling an upside down funnel, it is a complex geological system. In this respect it matches commercial aviation which the volcano brought to its knees this past April.

Norwegian representative to the conference
On Tuesday, I traveled with about 40 other aviation professionals on an Icelandic Air turbo prop on a tour of the volcanoes of Iceland, in preparation for a two day conference that begins here in Reykjavik on Wednesday. (I was invited to the meeting to talk to the delegates about the media in an aviation crisis. More later on this subject which I have titled, Some Like it Hot.)  

So far I've been struck by how art intertwines with the country's geology.

Vignir Johannsson glass artist with his Ash for Cash  series.
Take Vignir Johannsson for example.  At a reception for delegates at city hall this evening Vignir was displaying Eyjafjallajokull ash which he collected in May, peppered with cobalt shards and preserved between clear glass plates in a style and shape evocative of an airplane window. Creative as art and cleaver as a marketable product, Vignir was doing a booming business selling the pieces to delegates who will - metaphorically speaking - not soon shake off this Spring's Icelandic ash. 

Hronn Scheving created the Volcanic Eruption top left
Before leaving the party, I wandered into an another gallery in the hall, where dozens of quilt panels were on display. Not surprisingly, the volcano was a recurrent theme in the works featured at in this gallery as well.   
Quilts on display at City Hall Reykjavik

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