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Please note, this film is silent.

Enjoy reading 'Liquid Ground' - Sarah Thomas's response to In the First Place, here.

Captions will be added to the conversation between Elín and Sarah shortly.

We are delighted to screen Scottish/Icelandic artist Elín Jakobsdóttir’s beautiful short film In the First Place (2021) over three weeks this November.

Primarily a painter, Jakobsdóttir works across a range of media, including drawing and sculpture. Film has an intermittent presence in her practice, and she has said: ‘Films happen periodically like a plant that flowers every couple of years under some special conditions or change in climate … film for me is the continuation of painting by others means.’

Jakobsdóttir first began experimenting with film whilst living in Paris in 2000 and having reached an impasse with her painting: ‘I borrowed a Super8 camera from a friend and experienced the freedom of not having to think about the myriad of possibilities within painting for depicting the world.’ Over twenty years, she has made a number of films that are diverse in their subject matter, but which often meditate on human perception, and feature unconsiocus or dream-like sequences.

Jakobsdóttir’s most recent film, In the First Place, was shot with a Super8 camera in Glasgow and Iceland in the summer of 2020. The film begins in Glasgow: a boy paints a figure on a canvas with blue paint, rolls himself up in the cloth covering and speaks through a window pane with faces that appear there. The film then turns to the southern coast of Iceland, and to a site important to Jakobsdóttir’s childhood: her great-grandparent’s house in Eyrarbakki, close to the volcano Hekla. As Eva Scharrer has said, the film is ‘less a documentation of family or social history than a reflection on painting.’ As Jakobsdóttir has said:

‘In the First Place refers to my origins in Iceland and also my first medium, which is painting. Having two territories both in terms of country and medium means having a double life. In Iceland, I have a large family with whom I have close ties despite leaving to live in Scotland when I was an infant. Iceland provided many formative experiences; I worked for a summer on a farm near Búðardalur when I was 15 and it was Reykjavik that I had my first solo exhibition….I would say this double life make for a split identity since you miss the presence of people and the landscape but they persist within an inner landscape that you carry inside you.’

Free, optional donations welcome

We have commissioned writer and filmmaker Dr Sarah Thomas to write a response to In the First Place, which will be available at Cample and online whilst the film is screening. 

Elin and Sarah will be in conversation at Cample on Saturday 12 November at 4.30pm. Book to join Elin, Sarah and the team for conversation and refreshments at Cample here


Elin Jakobsdóttir is an artist and is based between Glasgow and Berlin. Working across painting, drawing, film and sculpture, she is interested in 'the connections between imagination, subjectivity, the production of images and the body.' She has shown her work widely internationally. In 2021, she had a solo exhibition, at Schwartzsche Villa, Berlin, entitled In the First Place and curated with Christine Nippe. Her work is currently included in Bodies in Trouble at Haus Kunst Mitte, also in Berlin. She has also been included in groups such as Here Was Elsewhere >>FFWD: Artists' Moving Image from Scotland, 2016, 2018, curated by Cooper Gallery, DJCAD, Dundee. A new series of work will be presented in a forthcoming show in autumn 2023 at Haus Kunst Mitte, Berlin.

Dr Sarah Thomas is a writer and documentary filmmaker with a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies. She is committed to work that explores our entanglements with the living world. She has been a regular contributor to Dark Mountain journal, and her writing has also appeared in the Guardian and the anthology Women On Nature edited by Katharine Norbury. In 2020 she was nominated for the Arts Foundation Environmental Writing Award. She was longlisted for the inaugural Nan Shepherd Prize and shortlisted for the 2021 Fitzcarraldo Essay Prize. Her ecological memoir The Raven's Nest was published in summer 2022 by Atlantic Books

  • Year
  • Runtime
    21 minutes
  • Country
    United Kingdom, Iceland
  • Note
    No sound
  • Director
    Elin Jakobsdóttir
  • Filmmaker
    Elin Jakobsdóttir
  • Cinematographer
    Elin Jakobsdóttir