“I find the whole community and culture very magical and have enjoyed making friends with the local people.” Check out’s our Q&A with Rochelle Hansen and Tahlia Durrant,
R: Rochelle Hansen
T: Tahlia Durrant
1. Can you share with us your background and how it relates to your artistic practice?
T: My name is Tahlia Durrant and I am a writer working in collaboration with fellow artist and friend, Rochelle Hansen. I am originally from a small rural town just outside of Melbourne, Australia. I attended Victoria University and only recently graduated mere weeks before the commencement of Skammdegi, completing my Bachelor of Arts degree. Writing has always been a powerful creative outlet for me personally and whilst I have been exploring various styles and creating different pieces of work for numerous years, it is only in recent times that I have begun to explore the possibilities of showcasing my work to the outside world.
R: My name is Rochelle Hansen and I am a Melbourne based photographer. I grew up in rural Australia, countryside rich with flora and fauna. This has strongly shaped my practice, which is often focused on our relationship with nature. I graduated from Photography Studies College Melbourne with a Bachelor degree in 2016. During this course I specialised in documentary photography.
2. Can you tell us more about your work?
T: I believe that my work is heavily impacted by human emotion and the idea of trying to capture a reader’s attention through the lure and relation to heavy feelings and sensations; ideas of mortality, conflict, aspiration etc. I draw a lot of inspiration from nature and the natural world, how we as humans exist within it and how being immersed in a state of nature can influence the human condition. As a result, Romantic poets such as John Keats, William Wordsworth and the Enlightenment era in its entirety have also been great sources of inspiration. Many of my previous works have been ‘free-form’ poetry, which some consider a modern style of poetry. Therefore, a lot of characteristics within my written pieces have Romantic elements, but do not necessarily follow the poetic structure.
R: I class myself as a documentary photographer, however I tend to push to blur the line between art and documentary photography. I am always inspired by the world around me. Nature and people are always a strong focus in my work and I often explore the relationship between the two. I am inspired by photographers such as Alec Soth, Sarker Portick and Trent Parke.
2. Why did you decide to join the Skammdegi Festival?
T: I decided to join the Skammdegi Festival as I saw it as a wonderful creative opportunity to engage in after finishing university. It has also enabled me to work with Rochelle and to collaborate in an environment that is completely different to our own Australian backyard.
R: I have always been intrigued by the Arctic and the north, always dreaming of the white winter and an environment dramatically different to my own. I have also been fascinated by the remoteness that Iceland brings. I am looking to create work that is inspired by harsh conditions, cultural differences and that captures the interaction of people with their environment and the impact of their surroundings on their day-to-day lives. Iceland offers a very unique experience.
3. Is Listhús your first residency?
T: Listhús is my very first residency, but hopefully not my last.
R: Yes, Listhús is my first residency.
4. Is Skammdegi Festival the first festival you participated in?
T: Skammdegi will be the first art festival that I participate in outside of University.
R: During second year at university I went to Malaysia to participate in the Penang Photo Festival. During this trip I spent 2 weeks working closely with photographer Sarker Protick, a highly regarded photographer (and one of my favourite photographers). After completing the workshop I participated in a book- making workshop. Our work was showcased at the festival amongst other highly commended international artists. It was a fantastic experience. This festival is solely a photography festival. Although it was inspiring and helpful to be surrounded by, and artistically challenged by, other photographers, Listhús is great as I am able to work with a variety of other artists and see what they are inspired by and how they can create work. Listhús also offers the freedom and space to create work for a period of two months, allowing me to understand and be a part of the community for a period of time.
5. How do you feel after living in Ólafsfjörður/Iceland for a month (December) so far?
T: Living in Ólafsfjörður has been an eye-opening experience, but nonetheless, an unforgettable one. Having already been living here for a month, it has been refreshing to see the generosity of the townspeople and how willing they are to help in any way possible. The town is quite isolated and remote, as well as the icy weather conditions, but the people are warm and hospitable and you can really feel the community spirit.
R: I really love Ólafsfjörður. I am constantly in awe of the landscape and weather. I find the whole community and culture very magical and have enjoyed making friends with the local people. I thought that two months would be an extensive period of time in one place, however I now know that it will not be long enough and I will soon yearn to come back to this small town.
6. What is your plan for the second half of Skammdegi, in January?
T: I believe the month of January will be quite a hectic few weeks with the incoming deadline for the festival. I think it will be the time where we really put our heads down and refine work and explore presentations ideas. We have plans to go into Akureyri, as well as the neighbouring towns to meet up with potential contacts within the communities. We are also in the midst of organising a group trip with fellow Skammdegi artists to see Godafoss waterfall and other sites around the north.
R: January will be a very busy month as we try to gather all the work required before presenting at the festival. I have a lot of photoshoots planned with the local community which is very exciting. We also hope to make a day trip to see Godafoss and Myvatn.
7. What are you going to create/present during Skammdegi Festival?
T & R: We are working in collaboration to make a work that reflects the relationship between man and nature. Exploring how the inhabitants of the north have adapted to the harsh arctic-like conditions. We are working with both photographs and poetry and are also experimenting with video. We will present the work as photographic prints alongside a projection of the documentary.
8. What is your plan for 2018?
T & R: On our return to Australia we plan to further develop the work and possibly create a photo-book. We would like to exhibit the work in a private show and could potentially present the book at multiple Photo-book Fairs around the world.
Rochelle Hansen and Tahlia Durrant are both from Australia.
Tahlia is a writer. Her creative process involves observing her environment and theinhabitants within it, and writing of the relationship between the two as they intertwine with one another.