Where salt meets the ice

Kathy Anne Lim

2018 - Ongoing

On a trip driving to Höfn, in south-east Iceland, our journey was defined by dramatic, ever-changing geography and unpredictable weather. Wind whistled and carved through the landscape, and we had to turn the steering wheel 11 degrees to the left to keep us travelling straight through the winter storms. Our headlights illuminated the swirling snow that filled the road ahead of us, bright against the black asphalt and dancing in synchronization with the lo-fi howl of the wind. The landscape changed around us, and I watched the grey sky begin to part in our rear-view mirror as sunbeams illuminated the edges of the clouds and we drove further into the storm.

Growing up against the backdrop of two glossy cities, Singapore and London, I found the otherworldly wilderness of Iceland captivating. Arriving in the tail-end of winter, layers of the landscape began to unfold before us as the melting snow unearthed sleeping grass and formed glacial pools of sapphire. But nature here is as brutal as it is beautiful. On Reynisdrangar beach, the frenzied, forceful winds dragged me backwards, whipping the sand around my feet and burying me into the black shore. In that out-of-control moment, I decided to surrender to this alluring yet violent place.

Throughout it all, our rented car was a safe haven, shielding us against the abrasive conditions. We played serene songs to drown out the roaring wind, and the vehicle soon became the moving heart of our trip. I noticed the 4x4 was covered in little orange stickers, each marking a scratch or dent – scars and echoes from previous journeys with other travellers. It occurred to me that these little stickers were badges of wear and resilience. The car had been tried and tested against the landscape, just like me.

I decided to experiment by marking sections of my photographs in a similar way, covering dust specks and imperfections: the scars of my images. These highlighted the defects, while also intriguing the viewer to speculate about what might lie underneath. The project was in no way a strategic attempt to examine the landscape I encountered. Rather, the imagery evolved organically as I revisited the experience through my photographs and the layered emotions linked to those memories. Informed by encounters, personal affection and experiences, this series allowed me to make sense of an emotional landscape riddled with stories

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  • 18 Falls; Þingvallavatn, Iceland, 2018.

  • Layers; Þingvallavatn, Iceland, 2018.

  • Ytri Tunga; Iceland, 2018.

  • Skógafoss, Iceland, 2018.

  • Vatnajökull; Iceland, 2018.

  • Dusted Peaks; Skaftafell, Iceland, 2018.

  • Sideways; Reynisdrangar, Iceland, 2018.

  • River; Fjaðrárgljúfur, Iceland, 2018.

  • To the Sea; Fjaðrárgljúfur, Iceland, 2018.

  • Winding; Iceland, 2018.

  • Twin; Iceland, 2018.

  • Fjaðrárgljúfur, Iceland, 2018.

  • Skógafoss, Iceland, 2018.

  • Mist; Hafnartun, Iceland, 2018.

  • Winding II; Iceland, 2018.

  • Kerid Crater; Iceland, 2018.

  • Sulphur; Hafnartun, Iceland, 2018.

  • Ice & Soot; Iceland, 2018.

  • Skaftafell; Iceland, 2018.

  • Þingvallavatn; Iceland, 2018.