The exhibition A village story shows the early life of villagers that settled Tálknafjörður. The exhibition opens a world not to long ago where people fought the natural elements to keep warm, fed and alive. They worked the land and sailed the seas by using tradition, skills, intuition and toughness that had been passed down for generations. Their story exemplifies that even in the harshest conditions cultural innovation would occur transforming the way we live and work today.
A mother with her young children drying wool in the sun. 1940
The picture above describes an ancient Icelandic tradition of drying wool in the field after it had been dipped in urine, then into boiling water and lastly rinsed in the cold river in this instance Hólsá which is located by the church in town. Urine was collected in a big wooden tanks during winter and was used like bleach because it has ammonia content.
Two things made life possible in Iceland in the early days, the first being Turf farms and secondly, wool. It was commonly thought that if a woman knew how to turn wool into clothing and milk into food she had all the skills and education she needed. This might not suffice for women today put still the question remains, is it not a valuable skill.
(”Horfnir starfshættir’ (Lost Traditions) by Guðmundur Þorsteinsson, 1975)