Saturday, 29 October 2011

Amazing Connections!

I visited the NES Artist Residency in Skagaströnd on Thursday to view the work of a couple of artists who are at the tail end of their October residency.

Dario Lazzaretto a sound artist from Italy (who I had met on my previous visit to NES) and Georgina Criddle from Australia collaborated on a video projection and soundscape installation that seems to have embedded itself within my psyche and rolls around in my head days later.

It is a work that has such a depth that I find my mind continually going back to it, turning it over and over, pondering different aspects.  The piece was a photograph that Georgina had taken of the Icelandic landscape whilst in a moving vehicle, the original image had been enlarged until it is unclear what you are viewing.  Parts are familiar but there is a foggy blurryiness to the image and this same obscured, hazy feeling is reiterated in your mind as you try to decipher what you see.  It is like rummaging around a vague memory, trying to focus or grasp at something that is really quite imperceptible.   I had a heightened sense of the past and felt like I was adrift back through time...which of course is a photograph is always of what has been.

Dario had stretched the sound of the camera click...the physical act of the camera taking the photo and created an eerie, haunting, even violent at times soundscape that successfully secures the image to itself.  It is as much about the physical act of photography as it is about perception and the art of seeing and not seeing...the quick snapshot of a passing landscape that we take to remind us that we were there...we give it a cursory glance...not really is all rather instant.  What Georgina and Dario do is slow down the experience and instead of the fleeting transitory act of snapping this passing landscape we get the chance to stop and wander through it. We are taken on a long expedition into the physical terrain of the photograph, we move around, in, exploring and feeling the unseen and in doing so surprisingly re-discover the image.

A thought provoking work that makes connections with layers of meaning and ideas that continue to play around in my head.

Here in Iceland no one bats an eyelid if you meet someone for the first time and in conversation realise that you are related.  It is a fairly common occurrence and many conversations and introductions are started by asking who their family are.  They say all Icelanders are related to some degree as its entire population is descended from only a handful of originating Vikings. However for this 6 degree of separation to happen to me, an Australian living on the opposite side of the world to my homeland, family and friends is highly unlikely...or is it?

Imagine my surprise when I realised that the Australian artist Georgina Criddle was from Perth Western Australia and had completed her very same degree at the very same university only a few years after I did mine.

Well so what you say...that is not so unusual...there are only 4 universities in Perth only 3 that have art degrees so the odds are ever decreasing.   Scoff at me if you will... but there is more...when I saw Georgina Criddle's name on the NES website I knew that it was more than likely we were related.  In Western Australia the Criddle family is huge...very prolific and basically all leaves fall from the one branch that grew around the Dongara, Greenough, Geraldton region in Western Australia back in the early 1800's.  

Georgina my 3rd cousin 1x removed

After meeting Georgina and enlightening her to the possibilities of our linked bloodline and armed with a few of her ancestors names I returned home to delve into my genealogy research to find the family connection.  And connection indeed...not just one but two.  I am pretty certain from the information given that Georgina's gg grandfather was my gg grandfather's brother and this gg grandfather of Georgina also married my g grandmother's sister...are you still with me!  So this means we are linked through the Criddle line as well as the Pell line, my g grandparents were a Pell and a Criddle and Georgina's gg grandparents were also a Pell and a Criddle.  Therefore in the Criddle line our ggg grandparents are the same people and in the Pell line my gg grandparents are Georgina's ggg grandparents.  Hopefully that all makes sense to you!

Absolutely amazing and astounding that we should meet, not in Australia the country we are from or in the city of Perth where we both lived or at the university where Georgina was studying and I was working simultaneously but that we meet here on the other side of the world, in Iceland where it is pretty much a common occurrence to be introduced to someone and discover your related.


  1. LIKE as another online site would say.

  2. Wow!! I think that is 'totally' amazing!!

  3. Great story - and as they say - only in Iceland!

  4. Sæl, I read the interview in Feykir and I just wanted to say that I really like your blog. I grew up in Skagafjordur and it is so much fun to read about the area I know so well, from your point of view :) I love getting news and seeing photos from Skagafjörður, even though it sometimes makes me a little "homesick" but I´ve been living in Reykjavík for the past 15 years or so. Anyway, I really admire you for taking a chance in life and to follow your dreams :) Gangi þér vel, Inga Heiða

  5. Thanks everyone, I love these strange, inexplicable moments of connectedness.

    Inga Heiða glad you enjoy the blog I thoroughly enjoy writing it.