Lighting up rural Iceland

28 Feb, 2019
Sesselja Jonasardottir and Celia Harrison
Sesselja Jonasardottir and Celia Harrison

AUT Spatial Design alumna Celia Harrison has been awarded one of Iceland’s top cultural awards, the Eyrarrósin, for her work establishing the List í ljósi (Art in light) festival of light in the eastern Icelandic town of Seyðisfjörður (Seydisfjordur), population 700.

Harrison founded the festival four years ago with her business partner Sesselja Jónasardóttir, who jointly received the award.

She said, “I came to Iceland in 2015 for an artist residency at HEIMA - also based in Seyðisfjörður. I was interested in the town because of the stark contrast from New Zealand. In winter there is no sun for four months and I was curious to experience that and in living in a small place to find creative inspiration.

“Off the back of the Art in the Dark festival in New Zealand, I was interested in making a light festival during my residency as I got to know the village. That was in 2016 and I meant to leave after the first festival but there is a certain magnetic pull to this town where you blink and it’s suddenly 3.5 years later…!”

Harrison will stay in Seyðisfjörður to complete her PhD research through AUT on the culture house she is developing as a wider research in community development in rural places affected by environment.

The 2019 List í ljósi (Art in light) festival took place from 15 – 16 February in Seyðisfjörður. This year’s festival had a total of 30 works from 65 participants, which illuminated the township between six and 10 pm.

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