Jana Charl


Stories of Forgotten Fisherwomen

Stories of Forgotten Fisherwomen
Fish Factory Inside

FISH FACTORY RESIDENCY, Stöðvarfjörður, Iceland: May 2018

10h x 40w x 14d ft / 3.2 x 12 x 4.2 m

It all began with a Google search "Icelandic Fisherwomen." The first article I read, Iceland's Forgotten Fisherwomen, was my inspiration for a series of mixed media paintings and installation titled Stories of Forgotten Fisherwomen.

A cultural anthropologist and former seawoman, Dr. Margaret E. Willson, began her research into the stories of Icelandic fisherwomen after reading a plaque honoring one of Iceland's greatest fishing captains, Thurídur Einarsdóttir (1777 to 1863), and discovering that Icelanders she met were not familiar with her. Willson's research culminated in the publication of the book Seawomen of Iceland: Survival on the Edge and also a collaborative exhibition of past, present, and future Icelandic women working at sea Rejkavík's Maritime Museum in 2015.

Women fishing in the 18th - 19th centuries was not uncommon and was not a feminist act. Strength and ability counted more than one's sex. Female farm laborers also worked at sea and pregnant women rowed and gave birth on boats. Another historical figure, Björg Einarsdóttir, a fisherwoman and poet (1716 - 1784), challenged men in her poetry:

Do row better my dear man,
Fear not to hurt the ocean.
Set your shoulders if you can
Into harder motion.

Conventional gender roles are a product of modern times and urbanization. Women's role has become one of processing fish over catching fish. Stories of Forgotten Fisherwomen is to honor sea women.

While working on the project, artist Miriam Donohue arrived at the residency and I explained my inspiration. She felt similarly inspired and wrote the song THE FISHERWOMAN. We are both storytellers: my words are represented by graphic bars woven into my artwork and Miriam spins her tales with poetic lyrics. The resulting installation is a collaborative effort with my visuals created from Fish Factory salvaged materials and Miriam's music.

– Artist Interview

– About the Residency