The harbour area of Westfjords fishing town Patreksfjörður is a small tangle of streets lined with dripping warehouses and industrial buildings. But, inside an unassuming former line-baiting and storage unit, something new is stirring—a multi-purpose cultural space called Húsið.
Julie Gasiglia and Aron Ingi Guðmundsson are the young couple behind the project. After a period living in London, they decided the big city life was not for them. As they sought to relocate, they realised Reykjavík’s out of control property market was prohibitively expensive, so they widened their search to include all of Iceland. That’s when a property in Patreksfjörður caught their eye.
“We saw this this big wooden house was on sale at a really intriguing price,” says Julie. “It had a view across the fjords and looked really dreamy, so we decided to take a look. We came in April 2017, and decided to buy it and give it a try.”
After the move, the two quickly turned one room into a workshop for hosting art events. “It was a way for us to start something,” says Aron Ingi. “We started to get a feel for the people and start getting to know them, and then we expanded into this current building.”
The new harbourside venue enabled the pair to evolve Húsið into a multi-purpose space containing a gallery, coffee and art objects shop, and a co-working space, with an open-house atmosphere. Since opening, they’ve already hosted a Stelpur Rokka workshop, and several exhibitions of video art, photography and drawings, which drew a healthy interest from the residents of the town. “We want it to be a social place, where people can meet, see something, and mingle,” says Aron Ingi.
Old life, new life
The two have found settling into Westfjords life to be an interesting process. They’ve attended social clubs, and found jobs in the community—Aron Ingi is a freelance journalist who also works at the local kindergarten, and Julie is continuing her work as a graphic designer, including work for local companies.
Húsið is a passion project that occupies their spare time. “We wanted to bring a little bit of what we used to have to Patreksfjörður,” says Julie. “Something I really love about being here is that I meet people and do things I’d never have done anywhere else,” she continues. “I have a friend who’s 60 and we knit together. That would never have happened in Reykjavík. I think it’s enriching—when you’re surrounded by your peers, you live in a bubble. Here, you have to break out of your comfort zone.”
Julie and Aron Ingi have plans to keep the exhibition programme going, and to keep building their audience and developing the project. “We have the programme booked up until November, with some interesting lectures, and we’ll be changing the exhibition every four weeks,” says Julie. “Because there hasn’t been a place like this here before, we want the shows to be accessible, and also to be true to who we are. Hopefully we can evolve what we put on further down the line.”
Visit Húsið on Eyrargata in Patreksfjörður, and see the events and exhibition programme at www.husid-workshop.com.