Show and Tell #1 - Greta Clough

Greta Clough
23 August 2017

Greta Clough has written the story and created the puppets and set of Tröll - a  show reimagining Iceland’s folk tales and settlement stories through the eyes of a young girl and her unusual friends from the mountains. Tröll is produced and created by Handbendi Brúðuleikhús - a puppetry and theatre production company based in Hvammstangi, Northwest Iceland.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Ok. That’s a pretty big question.  My idea of perfect happiness is watching the world role by from a perfect spot on the rocky coastline outside my house with a good cup of coffee and my 3 year old daughter. 

What lies at the heart of your own desire to do your creative work?

Another big one.  I suppose it is the desire to share experiences and give voice to small things. Plus it makes me happy. 

What are the first things you do in developing an idea in response to a subject?

The first thing I do is explore. Explore the subject, the idea, the context in which it exists. For Troll this meant learning about Icelandic folklore and settlement history. It also meant spending a lot of time outside - in the mountains, the canyons, along the coast - visiting troll rocks, churches, caves, and locations that are surrounded with stories of curses and hidden people (elves, trolls, ghosts…) - investigating the context in which these stories were created and why they persist.  I also spent a lot of time just being alone in nature listening and finding my own sense of place here.  All of this gives me a stepping off point as an artist. It roots the work.  

From your favourite poem – could you give us a few lines that mean something to you?

There are so many good poems from the region of Iceland I live in!  As winter approaches up here I find myself chuckling at this one by Jónas Hallgrímsson:
Dalabóndinn í óþurrknum
Hví svo þrúðgu þú
þokuhlassi
súldanorn
um sveitir ekur?
Þér man eg offra
til árbóta
kú og konu
og kristindómi.

The Farmer in Wet Weather
Goddess of drizzle,
driving your big
cartloads of mist
across my fields!
Send me some sun
and I’ll sacrifice
my cow — my wife —
my Christianity!

I also really love this one by Vigdís Grímsdóttir:
Eitt andartak
saug ég ljóð
úr brjósti þínu
og festi á mitt
Eins og biðukolla
liggur það nú
við annað hörund
í bergmáli

One moment 
I sucked a poem 
from your breast 
and fastened onto mine 
 like a fluffball
 it lies there now 
next to another skin
 in an echo

If you were to die and come back as a person, animal or a thing, what would it be?

It would be fun to be a bird. Maybe something cheeky like a raven. Or a whale. That would be cool. 

What is your greatest extravagance?

I travel a lot for work, and where I live in Northwest Iceland there aren’t a lot of luxury options, so I always indulge in a great meals out when I travel. I love good food and  finding those special places that only locals know about. That probably doesn’t sound very extravagant!

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Life is pretty inspiring at the moment. 

Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Slow down.

Piece of equipment you can’t live without?

My dremel.