About us


The aim of Gullkistan is to provide a home and workspace for creative people of all professions in an international community in the sublime surroundings of south Iceland where they can work on their ideas and become a part of Icelandic culture locally and in a wider spectrum as each one of them prefers. Residents are encouraged to take part in mutual activities such as meals, travel, exhibitions and open studio events.

Gullkistan seeks to promote an environment where people are surrounded with nature, and where residents have the possibility to be a part of that society by having exhibitions and to take the opportunities given to take part in local community activities on different occasions.

As our main goal is to provide a home and work environment, trust and respect are the most important ingredients.


Our goals for sustainable development

Gullkistan expects residents to take good care of nature by showing it respect in every way, preserve energy and sort waste.
The residency is a non profit, artist run establishment.
Gullkistan reaches out to the public with events that are open and free of charge.

Our goals for supporting diversity

Gullkistan is open to and respects all creative people, of any origin, gender, age, religion, physical abilities, sexual orientation and socioeconomic background.

Our goals for child rights and youth perspective 

Gullkistan reaches out to children and young people in the community by providing opportunities for them to meet with the residents and learn about their background and their ideas and work and for residents to get to know them and their daily life.

 Board and director

The Gullkistan board is a group of artists who serve as advisors and supporters of all the good things Gullkistan stands for.

Alda Sigurðardóttir, director and visual artist among other things.

Alda Rose Cartwright, artist and art educator.

Harpa Rún Kristjánsdóttir farmer, writer and poet.

Hlín Agnarsdóttir writer for theater and fiction and lecturer.

Pétur Thomsen photographic artist.


In 1995 Kristveig Halldórsdóttir  and Alda Sigurðardóttir , then newly graduated from art school, planned the Gullkistan Art Festival in Laugarvatn. The interest it aroused was unbelievable. More than 130 people took part, visual artists, musicians, poets and writers, theater people, historians and other scholars of different kinds, and so on. It was then evident that many people were eager to enjoy the special atmosphere of Laugarvatn for creative purposes.

In 2005 they planned another festival, even bigger than before. This time the arts and the academic fields mixed even more and activities were of great variety. Both these festivals were centered in a school building that was built in 1929, Héraðsskólinn, but took place in many other buildings of the village and outdoors as well, even in a cross country hike around the lake as well as a climb up to the Gullkistan mountaintop.

After the second festival Alda and Kristveig started to prepare an international residency for artists and academics of all fields in Laugarvatn so more people could discover and enjoy the magic there.

In 2009 the first people arrived to work at the Gullkistan residency. From there it has grown step by step into a thriving community all year round. By the end of 2018 more than 400 residents have come to work at Gullkistan.

In 2015 a big exhibition was held at the Árnessýsla Art Museum to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of the Gullkistan projects. Curated by Ben Valentine who chose artworks from participants in the two festivals and artists who had stayed at the Gullkistan residency from 2009.

Since November 2021 Alda Sigurðardóttir has been the sole owner and manager of Gullkistan