oil on canvas, 100cm x 50cm, Iain White, 2014, £360
The Westmann Islands or the islands of the western men are named after escaped Irish slaves from a farm in nearby Vik who first settled there albeit briefly. They consist of 13 small, rugged, and inhospitable islands plus a large number of skerries formed by volcanic activity between 5000 and 10,000 years ago with the youngest, Surtsey only appearing above sea level between 1963 and June 1967.
The most recent volcanic eruption occurred when a mile long fissure opened in 1973 on the eastern side of the main island of Heimaey. In total c. 33 million tons of lava flowed from the fissure and hundreds of tons of tephra and ash rained down threatening the town and the harbour. The islanders were safely evacuated by fishing boats without loss of life.