From Iceland — If This Barn’s A-Rockin’, Please Do Come A-Knockin’

If This Barn’s A-Rockin’, Please Do Come A-Knockin’

Published July 8, 2023

If This Barn’s A-Rockin’, Please Do Come A-Knockin’
Rex Beckett
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Eyvindartunga

The Eyvindartunga country venue keeps creativity alive

When Stephanie Langridge left her life as an arts publicist behind in Australia and came to Iceland, she had no idea she’d eventually end up managing a countryside venue in a renovated barn. None of us really know where life is going to take us, after all, but hers has led to Eyvindartunga, near Laugarvatn, where she is now throwing a summer concert series for the first time.

“It’s kind of funny because I grew up in the countryside, relative to Sydney, sort of like Laugarvatn,” says Stephanie. “Then I moved I guess to [Sydney’s] equivalent of Vesturbær when I went to uni. That’s why it’s not so strange for me to be in Laugarvatn. It’s kind of like going back to where I was as a kid.”

In Sydney she worked as a publicist, staunchly with traditional media only, and ran an independent venue out of a warehouse on the outskirts of town. She ended up in Laugarvatn after meeting her now-husband, Magnús, at a gas station near Skaftafell, where they were both glacier guiding, a direction in life she took when her previous career proved to be unsustainable.

“A friend of mine passed away and it was just a very intolerant industry for that,” she says, describing a relatable pressure of corporate careers. “They were like, ‘Cool. If you’re not willing to work 15 hours a day and you don’t have a thousand spoons every day to waste on us in exchange for some alcohol at the bar, there’s 100 people behind you.’” Stephanie flipped her bosses the proverbial bird and flew to Iceland in 2017.

Stephanie and her husband continued to work most of the week as guides and continued renovations in their free time, but they eventually started looking at ways to make the barn a sustainable and profitable venture.

“We thought of renovating the barn because we were getting married and then it turned out to be Magnús’ dad’s lifelong dream to renovate it,” she says of how they began to transform Eyvindartunga. “We were just the impetus he needed.”

Stephanie and her husband continued to work most of the week as guides and continued renovations in their free time, but they eventually started looking at ways to make the barn a sustainable and profitable venture. This is when Stephanie’s dormant venue manager persona began to stir and she figured turning the renovated barn into an event space was the natural next step. She has spent the last three years running weddings out of the venue, but her real passion is promoting the arts.

“I also wanted to bring an opportunity for people in my community, because there are so many creative people in Laugarvatn,” she says. “There are so many visual artists. We have a gallery there. We also just have people who just enjoy music and visual art. And so I wanted to create a space that really captured a little bit of the feeling I had running my old venue back in Sydney.”

Eyvindartunga is now having its first run as a concert venue this summer with a series of monthly shows that Stephanie is carefully curating with her community’s interests and demographic in mind.

On the docket so far are Korinn Kliður — a celebrated community choir of some of Reykjavík’s finest musical talent — and singer-songwriters Magnús Kjartan and Grétar Lárus. Stephanie hints at more names that are yet to be confirmed, but are very intriguing, while emphasising that it’s not all going to be “safe”. 

With the transformation of Eyvindartunga, and the trajectory of her career returning to venue and event management, Stephanie sees it as forward momentum which is only going to get bigger and better.

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