Field trip to Iceland by the 'Royal Cult Club'

8 November 2019

Students and tutors from the Graphic Design and Non Linear Narrative departments of the Royal Academy of Art took a magical research round trip to Seydisfjordur, Gufunes and Reykjavik in October 2019.

46 students went on a magical research trip, discovering all the natural magic and mystic Iceland has to offer, for Graphic Designs’ elective PlayLab, that temporarily was renamed into The Royal Cult Club, guided by tutors Roosje Klap, Marthe Prins, and Job Wouters.

What is written here below is a description by three sopranos, two altos and a tenor of some of their ‘pivotal moments’:

Wednesday 16 October:
Glowing greens & hundreds of waterfalls

"I remember looking at the back of our choir director Lukas, spreading his arms left and right in the aisle of the airplane, and forming a cross with his body, when our plane lifted off on its way to Reykjavik, holding 46 students and tutors on their way to magical endeavours."

Upon arrival, we immediately left by bus on a 10 hour drive to the east of the island. Here, we saw the glowing greens of the Northern Lights before us, and slept half-way through the night, only to arrive in the pitch-dark village of Seydisfjordur in the middle of the night.

At that time, we did not realise that the poignant sounds around us were actually hundreds of waterfalls that fell down the mountains into the fjord.

Thursday 17 October:
Heavenly singing

Singing in the silo
Singing in the silo

We entered the huge metal round silo through a hole with a diameter of 50 centimeters. It was around midnight and it was completely dark, there were only a few street lights in the distance. When all of us were inside, the lights from our phones lighted the silo, but the light couldn’t reach the ceiling of the old rusty metal silo that we had just entered. After the group had spread through the round space we had a moment of silence.

"Then it started. The heavenly singing. Everyone’s note lasted as long as their breath, together creating and endless sound of harmonised voices."

I tried to sing long and clear notes every single time, hearing the harmony of everyone’s voice clearly when I took my breath.

Friday 18 October:
The walk towards the lake

Once climbing the last breath-taking waterfall during the walk towards the lake, it felt like ascending into another world entirely. Our surrounding suddenly hummed in black and white tunes. The way the sound of the stream got muffled by the snow, gave the impression of being underwater. Everything felt faraway, the waterfall, the colours, Seydisfjordur, life in the Netherlands. Perhaps it was the stillness impregnated in all the rocks that slowed our pace and made our eyes aware of the first sight of wildlife. The winter deer made an apparition like a spirit would do, out of thin air.

"It felt refreshing to walk on a landscape not shaped by man, a landscape that could still shape us."

Saturday 19 October:

At Goddur's atelier
At Goddur's atelier

Upon arrival in Gufunes we were welcomed by Goddur, Hjelmar and his wife Inga in their huge industrial atelier, a former Marshall plan factory from the 50s at the edge of the city of Reykjavik. It was raining.

Sunday 20 October:
Lunga school's movie night

It’s been raining for what felt like two months. Raining so persistently one might actually give in and start believing this being a constant state of this peculiar patch of Earth. It’s gotten prematurely dark outside already and most of our exclusive club is getting ready to go to the swimming pool/sauna and surrender to the Icelandic pampering.

NOT US THO! No. A small radical group of 4 teachers and 3 exceptionally driven students are heading out into the redundant rainstorm to join and congratulate LungA School on their movie screening somewhere in Reykjavik. As soon as we step outside I feel a flush of fresh rainwater in my hiking boots (they previously got destroyed by the hike in the mountains. #noregerts). Eventually we get completely soaked, but that's also the best moment, it can only get better from there! Side note: ‘waterproof’ is a term tossed around clothing and retail industry way too irresponsibly. Just saying.

We get to the big intersection in the direction of Reykjavik, with a hope to catch the bus from there. But that plan falls through shortly (we are proved with unconformity of our location again on the way back by the surprised face of our taxi driver. “Gufunes? Now? Really?”).

We get to the place. Lunga people are getting ready, we hang our boots, gloves, pants and whatnots on the heaters around the café, nobody seems to bat an eye. “CREMOSA!” we all cheer and laugh, drink and talk the previous struggles off in the next hour. Pivotal moments. “The cinema” is a very dignified space with a stage, tall windows, wooden floors and fancy chandeliers. It goes very nicely with the proud looks on the movie creator’s faces. The movies seem very personal, a lot of vulnerabilities are shared here. Very raw, honest, maybe uncomfortable. We go back to our temporary home in Gufunes. The rain calmed down suggesting the end of this magical chapter of our wanderings.

Monday 21 October:
The experience of the sweat lodge ritual

Initial scepticism with which I approached the sweat lodge ritual (it’s just a weird sauna, right?) disappeared as soon as I entered the shaman’s house. Excessive decoration of the bare wood interior with loads of mystical tchotchkes and smell of incense was more than enough to slowly start awakening respect for the space and my deeply hidden sense of spiritualism.

"From letters to the spirits, omni-present banana-eating black dog, darkness of the tent and primal light of glowing red-hot stones, the experience of the sweat lodge ritual remains one of the most detached-from-reality experiences I have ever witnessed."

Guiding and organising tutors from Iceland
Jonathan Spejlborg (Lunga School)
Gudmundur Oddur Magnússon (Goddur)

Guiding tutors from KABK
Roosje Klap
Marthe Prins
Job Wouters

Organisation from KABK
Ingrid Grunwald

Participating students and tutors from Graphic Design & Non Linear Narrative
Charlotte, Camila, Lisa, Hyeonjeong, Daniel, Emir, Yeeun, Hyunji, Kirill, Soyun, Adrianna, Kilia Cleline, Aleksandra, Anke Sondi, Mika, Jan, Sacha, Iana, Ocean, Ieva, Radosław, Kexin, Szymon, Jules, Matteo, Saskia, Laura, Dominik, Dawun, Eunseo, Chingmon Jacky, Thora, Jenny, Pablo, Justine, Elinor, Katrina, Dario, Esther, Roosje, Marthe, Job, Ingrid, Maarten, Rob, Sophie.