Torfljàr – Drawing Turf Building
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Torfljàr – Drawing Turf Building

During our week in Iceland I made use of every opportunity to record visual material by making photos and sketches, and as a result I now have at my disposal a valuable source of material to continue to work on in my art studio. I will make a series of works on the subject that will be exhibited during Perthshire Open Studios in September 2019.

Report on Turf Building Course in Iceland
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Report on Turf Building Course in Iceland

Then strips of Torfa a double Strengur are laid to the thin part or tail of the Strengur on the inside of the wall from front to back. These are built overlapping each other which strengthens the wall and bonds it together. Once the stone base course is built to the required height the clamping blocks or Klambra can be built on top.

Turf Building Course – Reflections & SWOT Analysis
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Turf Building Course – Reflections & SWOT Analysis

The basics of construction were taught as incidental in the wider aims of learning about turf-building through building with turf. Questions were answered through instruction, so the builder was learning whilst doing. This is a practical approach which suited our group of enthusiastic and driven individuals. With an abundance of written and specific information available about the methods of turf building, it was more accessible to simply give it a go without being too precious about the exactitudes required in other construction methods.

Traditional Turf Building in Iceland 2016
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Traditional Turf Building in Iceland 2016

Ultimately I think one of the biggest things I have taken from this trip is the chance to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the heritage sector with like minded individuals. It amazed me how many similarities there were between Scotland and Iceland. Since learning more about traditional building methods I am keen to look into ways to incorporate these crafts into the education programme and our new outdoor learning workshops. I think there is an opportunity to engage all age groups with traditional skills. It may not be quite as elaborate of a turf house in a beautiful farm in northern Iceland but I think it is worth a try!

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