Wednesday, 8 May 2013

In Our (Saga) Time

Tomorrow -- Thursday 9th May -- is 'Climbing up day' (Uppstigingadagur, Ascension Day), a public holiday in Iceland and one which, a year ago, I spent engaged in the worldly ascent of the volcano/glacier Snæfellsjökull.

This time round I'm in London (an ascent of Iceland's highest peak, Hvannadalshnjúkur, is scheduled for next weekend) but I'll be sending something of the spirit of Iceland up and out into the atmosphere live via BBC Radio 4 since the Icelandic sagas are the subject of tomorrow's episode of 'In Our Time' with presenter Melvyn Bragg. A link to information about the programme (and the podcast of it which will be available to download after the episode's gone out) is here. Saga manuscripts, saga landscapes, and sagas of outlaws are my primary remit though Melvyn has a reputation for liking to keep his guests on their toes so anything could happen... 

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Gaga and Gerðuberg

Random newsflash from Reykjavík: Lady Gaga is in town to collect a peace award from Yoko Ono... and I'll be talking this evening (in Icelandic) at the Gerðuberg menningarmiðstöð (Gerðuberg Cultural Centre) in Reykjavík about some of my and anecdotes aplenty for those who aren't hanging out on this rainy grey day in Austurvöllur hoping for a glimpse of Gaga...  

Further information about the event can be found here and a short piece about the Centre published in today's edition of Fréttablaðið is here

Monday, 1 October 2012

William Gershom Collingwood and the Icelandic Sagas in New York

On Friday 28th September, Icelandic photographer/journalist Einar Falur Ingólfsson's exhibition 'Saga Sites' opened at Scandinavia House in New York. The exhibition will run until January 12th 2013.

Between 2007 and 2009, Einar Falur photographed many of the saga-sites that William Gershom Collingwood sketched in the summer of 1897, when he explored the landscapes and settings of the Icelandic sagas. The 'Saga Sites' exhibition displays Einar Falur's photographs alongside Collingwood's watercolours. The juxtaposition of the modern photographs and the 19th-century watercolours generates a compelling dialogue between past and present -- not only the past represented by Collingwood over a century ago, but that of the medieval Icelandic sagas themselves (written down some 700-800 years ago, and telling of events that happened around 1000 years ago).

Einar Falur's photographs illustrate both how Collingwood enhanced certain features of the Icelandic landscape for dramatic effect and how his representation of thes detail of these landscapes is often remarkably accurate. The exhibition was first shown at the National Museum of Iceland in 2010; it has travelled around Iceland and was also featured at the Frankfurt Bookfair in 2011, where Iceland was the Guest of Honour

Scandinavia House have arranged an exciting series of public events in conjunction with the exhibition; the full programme can be found here. My and Patrick Chadwick's 2011 short documentary film about Gísla saga and my Sagasteads project, Memories of Old Awake, is being screened as part of the exhibition; I will give a talk about the film and my project at Scandinavian House in January 1013.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Cinema Screens and Podcast Chat...and More Snæfellsjökull News

"Memories of Old Awake", Patrick Chadwick's Cambridge Ideas series documentary about my research (online on Vimeo here), hit the big screen in Reykjavík a couple of weeks ago when it was screened as part of the Reykjavík Shorts and Docs Film Festival. It also showed at the Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival in India. Gísli Súrsson goes global...

A 25-minute long chat about the sagas and my travels that I recorded back in January with BBC History Magazine's editor Dave Musgrove can be downloaded and listened to as a podcast here.

Much more excitingly, last Thursday (which was a bank holiday in Iceland on account of its being Ascension Day, "Uppstigningardagur" in Icelandic, literally meaning "Climbing Up Day"), saw me join a few others in the ascent of Snæfellsjökull, ice-axes at the ready and fully crampon-ed (the neat Icelandic word for crampon is "mannbroddur", "man-spike"). A description of the climb and thoughts arising from it will be posted here soon.

On our way up, up, up...