The idea of ValhallaLand really took shape when Agust Helgason met Chris Auret in Cape Town in December 2017. ‘Daniel Calderwood had insisted we meet and over dinner at my house we knew instantly that we would be working together’.

Chris had bought a piece of land near Knysna, called The Land, through a crowdfunding campaign called 1000PrintsNoFootPrints. A beautiful communal act to start an artist retreat in nature.

‘I visited the bare land and stayed there for two weeks, in a tent. Every night around the campfire we lived the life we wanted and dreamt of a community that felt the same. It became obvious to me that I wanted to contribute. In these days we stumbled upon a piece of wood on the side of the road. It was a giant blue gum slab. 5.2 meters long, 1.5 meters wide and 18 cm thick – weighing in at 1.5 ton. We somehow magically managed to acquire it before it went to the table-makers.’, tells Agust.

ValhallaLand is a community longhouse, inspired by Valhalla, the Nordic version of Heaven or Paradise, where you feast with the Gods, fight, die then start all over again. The longhouse was built at AfrikaBurn 2018, then moved it to The Land in Knysna. Here it will live on as The Land’s communal dining space for many years to come.

ValhalaLand was centred around a giant blue gum slab that had burned and fallen in the Kysna forest fires.


The table became the leader of our group. She took us to the Imaginarium in Muizenberg. Every time she wanted to move we needed to bring a whole community together to share the weight. It was an incredible achievement to lift her as a group of 35 people safely and each time it united us around the purpose to build a communal longhouse.

It took a lot of planning and fundraising to get ValhallaLand off the ground. The Imaginarium played a key role in this stage. We met around the table, which was kept in the Imaginarium, and the ideas started flowing; onto papers, into computers and out through music and poetry. We had three fundraisers filled with music, food, people, dancing and community. We raised all of our funding through the Imaginarium, but more importantly we raised the community that came together to build ValhallaLand.

‘I spent a lot of time in the Imaginarium, working on my computer’, says Agust, ‘Sometimes late into night. I started writing and drawing there. I never used to write poetry or draw as much as I did there. The Imaginarium was place of inspiration, creativity and focus. It is a place of the unknown and that’s where the magic happens’.

A bit about Agust

“My name is Agust Helgason, I’m 27 years old, from Järna, Sweden.  I studied creative leadership and business design at the Kaospilot school in Denmark. That meant reading theory and then trying it out. Testing our hypothesis’ and giving oneself permission to fail fast rather than trying to perfect the ideas in the lab. The official slogan: Kaospilot – the best school FOR the world. The un-official slogan: ask for forgiveness, not for permission. I love early stage ideas, I love building, I love music and I love dancing and I love summer.”

ValhallaLand at AfrikaBurn 2018. From the top left: Niall O Donovan, Søren Lund, Txarani Bianca Harmse, Matt Pople, Sascha, Shermin, Gabriel Powell, Chris Auret, Agust Helgason and Lenz Hoch.

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