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This poem, written by the Artist and translated by her friend Brian FitzGibbon, captures vividly the mystery and wonder of the beginnings of life on this planet. It is this theme, and the connection we all have to the ocean as the womb of the natural world that has inspired and driven Katrín Þorvaldsdóttir all her life.

Það dregur hægt frá þessu dularmyrkri sjávar,
jarðarvatni móður minnar og blítt í þessari dulardimmu vaknar líf.

This unfathomable dim ocean slowly recedes,
my Mother Earths’ water and the gentleness in this mysterious darkness awakens life.

Katrín Þorvaldsdóttir (Translated by Brian FitzGibbon)

From her beginnings as a curious child in Iceland, enchanted by the vibrant eco-system, to her experience in her early career in Spain and touring the world as a puppeteer, mask-maker, costumer and scenographer, she has looked to communicate and collaborate with nature, using all sorts of organic materials, but most notably seaweed from the Icelandic ocean.

It is here in the ocean where she feels most alive and most at home and this has formed the basis of her art, exploring and utilising the kelp for her creative work.

For over two decades Katrín has conducted her own research and experiments to learn how to preserve seaweed as a material, to use in art and design, with her main goal to ensure the research can be passed on to the coming generations to utilise the kelp even further in the future. She has travelled this path, with a profound respect for both Guðmundur Páll Ólafsson and Rachel Carson who’s pioneering work in natural studies has shaped her own philosophy of life.

What we see in the artists’ unique and stunning creations, such as the hauntingly beautiful seaweed masks and other pieces is a profound respect for the material she is working with. Having developed a deep connection with the ocean and its contents, she treats each piece of kelp as an individual living part of nature, and this respect carries over to her whole philosophical approach to life.

This attitude and philosophy, along with the joy and love of nature in general forms the basis of EMBLAMAR Studio.

The main focus of the studio is to use the knowledge Katrín has gained from working with seaweed, and in particular in developing the process for treating the seaweed so that it can be used as a material for art and design.

This collaborative division of her work focuses on projects that connect with like-minded people from varied backgrounds and creative genres to explore new ways of working with seaweed and other natural materials in unique and progressive ways, using her unique processes for treating seaweed, with a view to inspiring the next generation of creative thinkers.

history of Work

1972-74

Theatre studies at SÁL at Fríkjuvegur Reykjavik.

1979

B.A. degree in danish and literature at the University of Iceland.

1979-81

Dramaturgy from Aarhus University.

1983-86

Puppetry and mask-making – Institut del Teatre, Barcelona.

1986-1988

Worked as a puppeteer with the “Centre de Titelles” in Lérida, Spain.

1993-1994

Her first exhibition of puppets at Portið in Hafnarfjörður, followed by an exhibition of puppets inspired by “Völuspa” a beloved poem from The Sagas, at “Sala Gaudi” in Barcelona.

1997-2000

Puppetry, scenography and costumes with the “Icelandic Takaway Theatre”.

2003

Katrín had an exhibition showing larger masks and puppets at “Borðhald” in Gerðarsafn museum in Kópavogur , where she met an algologist who she went on to collaborate with refining the process for treating seaweed.

2005-2014

Puppetry, mask, scenography and costumes for different theatres in Iceland, Faroe Islands and with Bevais-theatre in Norway. Masks and costumes for the Icelandic Opera. Participated as a scenographer and mask-maker for different Exhibitions in Iceland.

2015

“The Sea Around Us” exhibition at Þekkingaarsetur Suðurnesja (Sudurnes Science and Learning Center in Sandgerð) which is still exhibited today.

Present Day

Working as an artist and researcher with seaweed, using raw organic kelp as a material for art and design.

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