Books As
Aesthetic Objects
A unique collection of contemporary
rare books The core of the original
gift to FAU in 1998

Foss: The Legendary
Waterfalls of Iceland

By Bea Nettles

foss: the legendary waterfalls of iceland; iceland waterfalls book; bea nettles; 2007(Click to view larger image)

From the website of Vamp and Tramp, Booksellers, LLC: "This mossy [colored] boxed set contains accordion books featuring four waterfalls that cascade out of the viewer’s hand. The text relates their stories and geographical facts. All of the photographs were taken by Bea Nettles in Iceland in the summer of 2007."

The four falls: Barnafoss (Children's Falls); Godafoss (Gods' Falls); Gullfoss (Golden Falls); and Skógafoss (Forest Falls).

Active as a photographer since the early 70’s, Bea Nettles has been a pioneer in photographic techniques and book arts. The richness of this particular work lies not only in the variety of photographic impressions, but also in the legends Bea Nettles has chosen to relate in these four tiny books. Just as each of the falls is distinctive: larger, smaller, wilder, gentler, so are the stories associated with each falls, vignettes with which she introduces each book.

Three of the legends deal with loss: of gold, of children’s lives, and of the old Norse faith, but the fourth deals only with the potential of loss.. “In the late 20th century, there was widespread discussion in favor of the diversion of [a major river] to be harnessed for electrical power. A local woman . . . vowed that if this were done, she would throw herself into the [falls]. These enormous falls were protected, and some Icelanders credit her bravery. A stone carving of her likeness was placed at the base of the falls in her honor.”

This last story resonates in the Collection’s own neighborhood in South Florida in the examples of Marjory Stoneman Douglas and her influence in saving the Everglades, and the ecological pioneers who created Wakodahatchee and Green Cay Wetlands. As it so often does, art reminds us of the universality of experience, as well as its own purview of exceptional creativity.

Judith Klau