This photographic project was born in an unexpected way. My wife, Álfheiður, revisited Þórshöfn, her father’s village in the far north-east of Iceland. She intended to repair the cross that marks the location of her grandmother’s grave in the cemetery seven kilometers from the village.
After taking care of her grandmother’s grave, Álfheiður wanted to see the house where her grandparents had lived. The owner, an elderly single named Agnar, opened the door and invited her for coffee. In closing her eyes, she imagined the kitchen as it was 40 years ago, with its smells – a mixture of coffee, dried fish and smoke, as if nothing had changed.
In 1929, my wife’s grandparents built a small house near the sea in Þórshöfn where they lived for 40 years. They call it Steinholt. Each summer, when Álfheiður was a child, her mother sent her from Reykjavik to her grandparents’ house for the school holidays. The memories of this time spent in Þórshöfn with her grandmother, whose name she bears, are among the happiest of her childhood.
The following year after the visit of Álfheiður, Agnar moved to the village rest home. Remembering my wife as a child with her grandmother, both of them with the same name Álfheiður, he judged that Steinholt should belong to my wife and contacted us about the house.
Respect for memory is the common thread that connects events that precede these photographs. In five years, the series gradually took shape in the light of the stories of my wife’s ancestors, who have traveled the area looking for work or a place to live. I retraced their movements, often traveling alone on foot in the landscape.
The photographs are not intended to be documentary. The purpose is to evoke a personal point of view on the value of memory, the spirit of place and give free course to the emotions that I felt while exploring this austere and beautiful region.
Christopher Taylor was born in Skegness, a station seaside on the east coast of England. When he was in high school in the 1970s, a summer job, photographing the tourists on the boardwalk, gave him the impulse to learn the techniques of taking pictures and of the dark room to explore the possibilities of the art of photography. Moving to London in 1984, he began to exhibit his photographs in The Photographers’ Gallery, then he traveled for two years in Asia with his wife Álfheiður and an old Rolleiflex, mainly in China and India.
The experiment proved decisive and led to a lasting fascination for the cultural heritage of these two countries, returning regularly for projects photographs, exhibitions or publications.
He married Álfheiður in 1983 while traveling in her homeland – Iceland, where they return regularly to visit her family. Inspired by novels by the Icelandic author Haldór Laxness (winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1956), and the family of Álfheiður, he made a sequence of three series in Iceland. The most recent, “Steinholt” (2011 – 2016), was the subject of exhibitions in places such as ; Camera Obscura gallery, Paris – which represents him in France, and the National Museum of Iceland.
Since 1992, he lives near Montpellier in the south of France.
Christopher Taylor – Steinholt, une histoire de l’origine des noms
2 to 28 April
Espace Saint Rémi
4 Rue Jouannet