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Fertile Soil: The Ceramics Exhibition at the Retreat

Glit pottery became quite popular among Icelanders and could be found in most Icelandic homes during the latter part of the 20th Century.

The works currently exhibited at the Retreat are from the late 1960s and early 1970s—a period in Icelandic ceramic art characterized by the technique of fastening lava to clay and then firing and glazing the pieces. Often referred to as glit pottery, this style takes its name from the ceramics studio that popularized the technique: Glit, in Reykjavík. Guests of the Retreat need only look out the window to see the intrinsic connection between these works, the Retreat’s architecture, and the surrounding landscape. At heart, Icelandic ceramic work brings artist and earth together in the same way that the Retreat is the embodiment of the creative energies sparked by the interplay of design and geology. The Glit studio was founded in 1958 and became a driving force in Icelandic ceramics. The bulk of the items in this exhibition were produced by the stable of artists at Glit, as well as Funi, a studio founded in 1947.

In the ‘60s and ‘70s, individualized craftsmanship gave way to mass production and thus the pieces bear no initials or signatures. As a consequence, attribution of these works can only be roughly deduced by identifying the group of craftspeople who worked at Glit and Funi during this period. Often multiple artists—many of whom would go on to achieve international recognition—worked on any given piece. Glit pottery became immensely popular among Icelanders and could be found in most Icelandic homes during the latter part of the 20th Century. However, subsequent generations did not appreciate the ceramic art beloved by their forebears, and over time, glit and the cultural narrative it encompassed had seemingly been lost to history. These objects, rescued from obscurity by Icelandic artist Anna Eyólfdóttir and collected over many decades, have helped reignite interest in lava texturing—reinvigorating glit as a historically significant force that remains rich with creative possibilities. The exhibition is a collaboration between the Icelandic Museum of Design & Applied Art and Blue Lagoon, and is emblematic of Blue Lagoon’s support for the arts and its firm belief that business strategy and design strategy are mutually complementary concerns.

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