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.


  1. I think that is pretty cool :-)

  2. So glad you posted this! We lived in Keflavik for 2 1/2 years, my oldest daughter was born there. HAVE to go see this exhibition! Thank you thank you thank you!

  3. Just saw Memories of Old Awake over my lunch hour - lovely and intriguing. I'm looking forward to your talk in January, and to your book.

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