Crossing and Re-Crossing the Rivers of Iceland

Hand written text on peat and ink impregnated, canvas backed paper, listing all the rivers crossed on a walk from Porsmork to Landmanlauger in July 2003. The pattern is derived from a satellite photo of a weather system over the area. 74 x 185 cm.

The story behind the work is that my friend, who is a climber and in later life has developed a heart condition, came on this 6 day walk with me from Porsmork to Landmanalauger in central Iceland.  On the 4th day we were hit by a storm and waited out the night  in a hut. The following day, the storm was still raging but a four hour lull was predicted in the afternoon, so having a plane to catch we started off for the next hut at 3.00 pm.

We crossed a river (very cold) and climbed 2000’ to a snow covered plateau. On the top the storm came back in and we were enveloped in a whiteout. My friend who had got very cold and tired announced that he wasn’t going to make it to the hut. He was in fact having a heart attack – his heart was closing down. I didn’t know this, but gave him some water which he used to swallow some pills given him by his doctor for just such an emergency. They saved his life and he made it to the hut. The connection here is that blood flows in the heart in a double vortex pattern called a Cardiac Twist – the storm has that same pattern.