Nicola Rose: Dramatic Inspiration in Iceland


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'Don't go looking for Antarctica without this book.' - Susan Solomon



I am an artist who has always been drawn to wild and ancient places. I have travelled to many parts of the world and have found myself attracted to the same things: wild, rugged, barren and dangerous landscapes; extremes conditions - heat, storms, perfect sunlight and ice.

I have not always been a painter. I trained at Maidstone College of Art and at Brighton Polytechnic as a Print Maker specialising in etching and collagraphs. Etching is the process of metal on acid, and the results are printed. Collagraphs are a much freer method involving the building up of layers of materials on a sheet of board, inking and then printing. This is the process that lead me to painting, which I have been developing for many years now. Land that has been exposed in layers by volcanic action or erosion over years is the inspiration for my paintings, which are built up with layer on layer of paint. Before each session I will scrape back and selectively reveal elements of painting previously worked.


I had wanted to go to Iceland for many years and I wanted to do it properly, not as friends had experienced it going around the outside on the circular road. I wanted to explore the glacial regions of the interior, so together with my partner Clive, we hired a 4x4 and with a large bag of food and some maps and headed off. No one lives there; it is uninhabitable and, apart from 3-4 months of the year, closed off.

No real roads, just tracks or at worst rock-strewn muddy dents in the landscape called F roads - with good reason! We soon found out that Icelandic maps are not to be trusted after our first excursion into a totally bleak wild area were we drove for 4 hours up steep mountains and round an entire glacier (and I cannot describe just how big these things are).

We eventually found ourselves facing a river crossing. There are no bridge, and hundreds of glacial melt rivers that can change by the hour in depth and width. This one, like so many, was not marked on the map and as we could not very well go back, Clive drove across what we thought was the best place, the bumpy part thinking it would be more shallow. This was not the case. He drove, I clung on, and prayed. It was traumatic the water began to wash over the top of the bonnet of the powerful Land Cruiser. We did make it, however, only to find the river was forked and we had another to cross, as wide and deep as the first.

In amongst these adventures I drew, took notes and photographed. I became fixated with the glaciers and when I came home I began to paint them as great crushing frozen waves. I also became obsessed with the way they would disappear into clouds: you would look up and there it would be again, infinitely larger than I first thought. I used my paint in layers, and large flat-ended brushes to describe the size and intensity of this place.

Since returning home we have been planning our next excursion to Scotland and Norway, including the Arctic Highway. This time we have bought our own 4x4 and will be using ferries, not flying. We will be putting all our belongings into storage for the time we will be away, possibly around six months.

I plan to paint direct from the landscape this time, and on this trip we will be prepared for the rivers.


Current and future exhibitions

Coastlines Exhibition at The Art Shed, New Milton, until 24 July 2008
The' Muse' joint show at The Edgar Modern International Art Gallery, Bath, 1-16 August 2008
Great Atlantic Art Gallery St Just, Cornwall, from 5 August 2008
Printmakers Cut Exhibition, Chichester, to 9 August 2008
Arundel Festival, Arundel, at artist's own studio, 27a Tarrant Street, 22-31 August


© Nicola Rose 2008. She holds an MA in Fine Art Printmaking and a BA in Illustration and has travelled worldwide for her subjects. Nicola may be contacted at 27a Tarrant Street, Arundel, West Sussex BN18 9DG. Tel: 01903 882837 E-mail: She is currently exhibiting at the Red Biddy Gallery in Shalford, Surrey.





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