Artwork 'Pilgrimage' by Christalena Hugmannik and Björn Jónsson

Artwork 'Pilgrimage' by Christalena Hugmannik and Björn Jónsson


Djúpavík in the Westfjords is a place out of the ordinary and home of the annually changing The Factory Art Exhibition. Local and international Artists bring life into an old abandoned herring factory that would otherwise be condemned to decay in silence.

Since 2017, curator Emilie Dalum turns the large halls of the factory and the old fish oil tank into an exhibition space during the summer months. We spoke to her about her relationship to Djúpavík, how space and art complement each other, what makes Djúpavík so special, and how it all plays together into one unique experience.

A little bit about you, how did you come to curate the art exhibitions in the Factory?

I first visited Djúpavík 10 years ago, going for a weekend trip. I fell in love and the following summers I returned to work there, and I also started assisting the founder of the recurring photo exhibition. In 2017, the manager of Hotel Djupavik invited me to manage and curate the exhibition. Despite very little experience, I said 'yes' and threw myself into the unknown.  I found that the building yelled for much more than photographs on the walls, so I quickly decided on an exhibition concept that included a great variety of visual arts. Since 2017, the exhibition has hosted more than 120 artists and gained more popularity and a positive reputation - both nationally and internationally.    

Artwork by Iða Brá Ingadóttir exhibited in the fish oil tank of The Factory in Djúpavík 2022

The former fish oil tank of the Factory makes for a special part of the exhibition venue, showcasing here the artwork 'Vera/Being' by Iða Brá Ingadóttir

What makes the old herring factory special as an exhibition venue?

The Factory is held inside an abandoned herring factory - and that in itself of course makes the exhibition location special. The factory was built in 1934 and stopped operating only twenty years later, in 1954, when the herring era went burst. Given its remote and mesmerizing surroundings, The Factory is an unconventional and unique exhibition - and by placing an art exhibition in the Icelandic countryside, the exhibit helps distribute art away from cities, the traditional hubs of the art world. 

What role does the history of the factory play in the art exhibition? 

The keywords for the exhibition project are ART - HISTORY - PLACES, which sum up what the exhibition contains. The place and the history simply can't be overseen, and act as important factors for my work with the project. The artworks, the old concrete, and the sense of the past with the contribution of the waterfall, the ocean, and nature,  all encapsulate the exhibition. All elements have the same decisive weight in the overall experience. All elements are 100 % present. 

Visitor in yellow jacket photographing artworks of the exhibition in The Factory Art Exhibition in 2021. In the picture are visible the sculpture "I Am Calling For Colours" by  Emilie Dalum and photographs by  Attilio Solzi with the title 'MONOLITH'

The Art enhances the setting and vice versa - which makes it sometimes hard to decide where to look first. Visible here are the sculpture 'I Am Calling For Colours' by Emilie Dalum and photographs by Attilio Solzi with the title 'MONOLITH'

Artists are always very inspired and excited about getting to work in such a unique exhibition space. The space naturally asks for an intimate dialogue, as all cracks, incidence of lights, shadows, and colors are taken into consideration for both the artists and for me. Like that, the artworks are both contrasting the space and merge into the building. The building creates new layers and creative codes to the way we understand and perceive the artworks, which is the contrast to a white cube, where the idea is to eliminate all other disturbances in order to see 'the pure art'.  

The works are inspired by the artist's personal perception of Iceland, and the final installation must have direct interaction with the factory and the local environment (this almost happens naturally). Some artists bring works that are already made - others bring material and produce the work on-site. Another approach is to connect materials and works brought to Djúpavík with found objects and materials on site. 

The Artwork Movements/Moments by Sarah Finkle exhibited in The Factory Art Exhibition in 2022

Fiber installation "Moments/Movements" by Sarah Finkle, exhibited in the now otherwise empty production halls of the factory

Let’s step outside: What makes Djúpavik a special place?

The remoteness, the lonely and magnificent car drive along the coastline, the presence of the old spirits, the untouched nature, the strong integration of the past into the present and vice versa - and just the achievement of the seldom feeling: to be.   

Why should people come and when is the best time to visit?

Summer season is when one can explore the best weather and The Factory Art Exhibition (which runs from mid-June to mid-Sept each year). Early spring and late summer are also good as the hotel is less busy. The rest of the year, the road is impassable due to the harsh weather. Djupavik is a one-hit wonder - a place of authenticity, stories, and memories, and visitors never forget Djúpavík. 

Waterfall visible through a window of the factory in Djúpavik

Even visible from inside the factory, the town's own waterfall is also part of the exhibition 

About Emilie Dalum:

Born in Denmark; Emilie Dalum has lived in Iceland for the past 11 years. She holds a bachelor‘s degree in European Ethnology, a diploma in Photography and is pursuing a Master‘s in curatorial practice at the Iceland University of the Arts. Together with her husband, she runs the art space The Tub (Balinn, in Icelandic) in Þingeyri.

About The Factory Art Exhibition

The Factory Art exhibition is hosted by Hótel Djúpavík and realized in collaboration with interns from the Fine Art Department at the Iceland University of the Arts. This year's exhibition has the theme Paganism and is open from June 10th until September 15th in the old herring factory in Djúpavik and is free to visit every day from 10 am - 6 pm.



Iceland's unusual art venues - The Factory in Djúpavík