This statue, a stylistic Longship named Solfar or Sun Voyager, was made by artist Jon Gunnar Arnason, and looks out across Reykjavik Harbour in Iceland, towards the wild, unknown seas where Lief Ericson first set out to discover America. ( I don’t know if that was his intention, but he did it just the same). Reykjavik was first settled by Ingólfr Arnarson in 870AD. 200 years later the rather violent Eric the Red was banished from Iceland for killing someone in a fight, and set out from here to colonize Greenland, an even icier and colder place than Iceland.
Now, I am usually of the Hans Christan Anderson’s The Emperor’s New Clothes school when it comes to public art, with my first reaction normally being, am I the only one who sees it? The pile of painted metal is complete rubbish and the artist is having a huge lend of us and managed to find an arts funding body willing to pay squillions to place his latest monstrosity in the middle of a roundabout. Why didn’t ANYONE stop them? Where do you get a job like that, dipping into the public purse with such gay abandon? ( Not in literature, that’s for sure) Then, sometimes, if I’m feeling mellow, I’ll think, and good luck to him, the talentless schmuck.
BUT I simply love this piece. It left me speechless when I first saw a photo of it while Googling Viking stuff for this blog. I think it is fantastic and it captures the spirit of the Icelandic ancestors perfectly, and with such elegant grace. Even HC Anderson would be hard pressed to dislike this one, and he was, apparently, an exceptionally grumpy bugger, considering he was a children’s book author.
So, everyone, get out and buy our little Viking, as I now have an ambition to go to Iceland and visit Solfar, and it will take a Longship full of royalties to get the airfare. I saw my friend Glen Swift at All Saints’ Literature Festival today and he is not long back from Iceland, and he loves the place and can’t wait to get back.
This picture was taken by Silver-Halide, a fine photographer, and posted on Flickr.