Gallery Hólshraun: a passion for art and food combined
By Trine Ejlskov Jensen-Martin | Photos: Heba Sólveig Heimisdóttir / Gallerí Hólshraun
Hanna Þóra Thordarson is the owner and creative force of Gallery Hólshraun, and the woman behind icelandic food blog hanna.is. She started the gallery with two close friends, who have since gone in different directions, leaving Hanna free reign over a unique space, where she can showcase her paintings and ceramics, and share a love for locally sourced, homecooked food.
“Many things are changing at the gallery at the moment,” she says, explaining how busy she is with her creative work, setting up the kitchen, and translating her website to English to make it more accessible to visitors from abroad.
Hanna‘s passion for cooking will be incorporated into the gallery and she is excited to combine her joy of cooking, creating, and painting. “I want to unite two great loves of mine: art and food,” she explains, and she will continue to create her ceramic pieces and paintings, as well as cooking up a storm in the gallery kitchen.
Her distinctive Hönnupottar cooking pots are a wonderful example of Hanna’s interests brought together. Each extraordinary pot is a piece of art in its own right, but made to be used in the kitchen. The pots are versatile and can be used in cooking and baking as well as for serving food. They are beautiful and unique, and became a surprising turning point in Hanna‘s life as an artist.
Bringing a love of ceramics and food to life
“The idea for the pots came about when I was studying ceramics. One of my teachers knew I was passionate about sourdough and suggested I make a pot for baking,” she explains. The form and shape of the pots have developed over the years, adding first two then three legs to the base, and Hanna has experiemented in her studio to make the pot what it is today.
“I love them. They are like my little babies and I always find something new to use them for,” she says. Initially Hanna used the pots at home, not thinking they would be attractive to others, until one day when she was on a coldwax painting course and a fellow student showed an interest. “I took my ugly pot with me on the course to bake some sourdough,” Hanna says smilingly, “and one of the other students, from the US, liked it so much that she ordered three!”
This marked the beginning of a larger production of the Hönnupottar, and it has since been sold to several countries all over the world. Hanna makes every pot by hand, and it is a true labour of love and patience. She has no intention of mass-producing the pots, as the process is both challenging and time consuming, and this in turn ensures that each pot is genuinely unique.
A sense of freedom
“When I was younger, I was naturally aware of what others might think of my work, and what expectations they might have,” she reflects. It is clear that she relishes the lack of outside influences and boundaries in any aspect of her work. “I never think that a painting should be in a certain way,” she says. “I do what I want to do in the moment of creation and I am not afraid of the outcome.” Hanna‘s art is as intuitive as her cooking and she enjoys each process as part of the experience. “I really enjoy a bit of painting, pottery, and cooking. I wouldn‘t want to just paint!”
Hanna‘s goal with her art and her food blog has never been commercial, and she does it all for the pure love of it. “I really appreciate my freedom to create what I want, and when other people like it too it‘s a bonus,” she says. For Hanna, this freedom to create extends beyond her workshop and her kitchen. Her passion for painting and cooking is evident, and whether working on a new coldwax painting inspired by the light and texture of her Icelandic landscape, or creating a new recipe using local ingredients, she puts her heart and soul into the process. She truly is a part of every step of creation, even making her own coldwax and, with the help of her husband, creating the wooden frames for her paintings.
For Hanna, food is synonymous with family, friends, and time spent together, which is another reason why she enjoys cooking. “Food for me is much more than just fuel, it‘s all about shared experiences and shared joy,” she says. This is why Hanna has decided to open the kitchen doors at Gallery Hólshraun and she is looking forward to sharing her art and her love of homemade food with her visitors.
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