Take just one look – and the ice will melt!

Brand Alchemist, Phil Strachan of Strangebrew, introduces us to another of his multi-talented, extremely interesting and very gifted friends and her amazing and far from bland creations – the Icelandic born and now Winchester based, Anna Dora.

Written by: Phil Strachan

I first met Anna about 7 years ago and at that time I was introduced to her in her capacity as a freelance make-up artist and it was a year or so later before I found out that she was also an incredibly talented abstract artist. When I first saw her work, I really was blown away by it and it made a huge impact on me. It had power and beauty and hidden depths and each time Anna posted her latest work on her facebook page over the last year or so, I quite literally felt compelled to comment on it and to praise it and to wish her well.

Being an artist, in common with my friends looking to breakthrough in the music industry and motor racing as just two examples, is a very tough business to succeed in as no matter how good you are, you are looking for someone to discover you, to believe in you and your work and to give you the break you need and the support you require to succeed.

Suddenly, and totally out of the blue at the end of June, came an invitation to attend an Exhibition of Anna’s work at a private viewing at the Icelandic Embassy in Knightsbridge in London. I naturally accepted, realising that this was exactly the kind of break and support that Anna needed and the perfect opportunity for me to see a significant body of her work up close and personal.

It was so busy on the evening of the private viewing that I re-visited the Exhibition a week or so later with Anna and my good friend, Olta Malluta, in order to take some photographs which included the Icelandic Ambassador, Mr Thórdur Aegir Óskarsson.

This prestigious Exhibition of Anna’s amazing and involving creations, some of which are also very tactile in nature, remains in place at the Icelandic Embassy until the end of December and I thoroughly recommend that anyone interested should contact Anna or the Embassy to arrange a viewing.

You were born in Reykjavik in Iceland, Anna, but I have the feeling that Iceland is never very far from your heart and mind.

Yes, that is so true. I am passionate about my work and it is very influenced by the mysticism of my home country and its natural wonders. Anything related to nature and mother earth provides me with my inspiration.

When I was 22, I moved to England and I now live near Winchester surrounded by gorgeous Hampshire countryside, but I often return to my homeland to visit my family and to harvest the opportunity to fuel my passion!
What exactly is it about Iceland that stirs your passion and fuels your creative process?

I am particularly fascinated with texture and variations in depth and dimension that will allow my paintings to come to life, evolve and react to changes in light. Just imagine the inspiration that I am able to draw from the incredibly rich drama of Iceland where sweeping, snowcapped mountains take control of the skyline.

Imagine the power of having ridden a horse on black volcanic sands at sunset and gazing up at the mountains and disappearing inside a world of imagination or of staring speechlessly in wonder at the magnificent Seljarlands Foss Waterfall. It is such involving experiences with raw nature and its beauty that inspires me to capture such drama in my abstract paintings.

I do remain very connected to my homeland because it forms the main theme of my work as I try to convey the power and majesty of the natural events that occur frequently in Iceland, such as volcanic eruptions and the silent movement of glaciers.

I understand, Anna – but how are you able to translate such intensely dramatic experiences into such breathtakingly beautiful abstract two dimensional paintings?

Creating sculpture paintings where light and texture play is very much driven by my past. Iceland is a country of extreme contrasts, its landscape providing bubbling lagoons and hard lava rock, all of which I try to capture in my abstract paintings and Mother Nature’s colours and textures appear naturally in my work.

Using oil paints in the main, I often layer the paint with Icelandic lava dust to form a literal connection and to create a hard, rough texture and I also add volcanic rock and salt that flowers into beautiful crystals to create contrasts of softness and beauty.

Colours and admiration for beauty in all its forms have always been a passion in my life. I love the dimension of colour and by adding various textures and a tactile quality, there really is a limitless dose of magic to explore.

Your work is very much driven by your passion but it is also very personal to you. Tell me a bit more about your creative process.

Indeed, my paintings are so very personal to me. They represent the story of my life. I paint what I’m feeling at any moment, using my paintings almost as emotional photographs. There is always some sort of emotion or memory attached to my work and I could tell you the story for each piece I’ve ever made.

I work very intuitively and from the heart, with each work beginning with a few spots of colour on a canvas and I then just go with the flow and what feels right. If it doesn’t feel right, I don’t do it. Each painting evolves from dawn till dusk and I can often be in the studio for up to 10 hours a day as I strive to capture in my paintings the natural beauty and wonders of Iceland and my regular exposure to the Northern Lights, all of which are very close to my heart.

I know exactly what you mean, Anna. I find your paintings both very emotional and very beautiful – They each have hidden depths and I also want to reach out and touch them. They really involve you.

In every painting, I really try to create an adventure for the viewer, something that involves them. Using a variety of media, colours and textures to create a multi-dimensional effect brings my creations to life. I hope to capture the magic of Iceland in the form of mountains, volcanoes, lagoons, crisp spring water, breathtaking ice caves, glaciers, underwater caverns, the Northern Lights and mythical sea creatures in an abstract way.

I just love to explore my art through the viewer’s eyes and to hear them recount their visual adventures when they tell me what they see.

Thank you Anna – I wish you every success with the Exhibition and your work which would grace and provide great pleasure and inspiration in any environment ranging from a home through to Workplaces, Private Clubs, Restaurants or Hotels etc.

The Exhibition of Anna’s work at the Icelandic Embassy, which features 28 of her paintings, runs until the end of December 2017.
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