Arnesyssel Artmuseum

Art-exhibition at the Artmuseum in Selfoss, Iceland, 1999

I took me a long time to grasp the depths of Steinunns work. To do that I had to see her create her works og visite the exhibition on a daily basis, while her works were still on the wall. On the other hand I had no problems painting them over when the exhibition closed, however that may be. Her works affected me much deeper than any other works. The visitors of the exhibition were also deeply affected, and some left the place in anger and resentment – yet they were not able to descripe their thoughts no matter how hard I tried to make them do it,  because I was so eager to know what they were thinking.

Steinunn paints directly on the wall; old patterns meant for embroidery and weaving. They originate from a very beautiful republication of the patternbook by Jon Einarsson of Skaftafell. Jon Einarsson was an icelandic farmer who wanted to draw and publish weaving-, knitting- and embroiderypatterns to help and delight the women. The exhibition is about memories and cultural inheritance; the visible one and none the less the invisible one. Memories are usually presented in written language or in pictures, but Steinunn gives us an extensive and new view on closing in on the memories, and the exhibition turns into some kind of picturehistory that is constantly on the move in time, if the spectator takes the time to observe and sense it. Steinunn brings about life and movement in an invisible time.

I feel as if she is standing by a highway and a vehicle is approaching in the distance. It comes closer and closer before it rushes by. This is the moment that is captured by Steinunn; though not necessarily from the angle of the passing vehicle. There might as well even be several experiences in this phase although she herself is placed at a special point. The vehicle rushes off in another direction and vanishes into the blue mist of the future. That is how I see the patterns she paints on the wall and most times erases again. I do not know whether the tradition or the pattern itself is becoming extinguished for ever, or whether Steinunn is calling it back to our world of reification.

Maybe the pattern itself has a life of its own og wants to share its secrets when we are able to understand dem. In that way the time of the expression of the pattern may well be different and much longer than the time we associated it with in our memories and culture.

From my article in ”Morgunbladid”    

Steinunn imparts to us some sort of monastic atmosphere i this museeumbuilding that was build shortly before 1970 in the boxy style of those days. She can do that based on her immensely strong sense of space. For a moment you feel as if you are standing in front of a monastery wall in the South with faded frescoes, after she usually has wiped away the red patterns. On the floor there is a small white table and a white chair. On the table there is a book, and naturally this book is white too. In this book the artist has colleted handwritten letters and fragments of memories that opens the world of memories to you.

Hildur Hakonardottir, principal of Arnesyssel Artmuseum