If you’ve read my blog before (thank you), you will know that I am a big fan of Iceland – see Colour At The Edge and Inspiration From Reykjavik. I was over again last week and something dawned on me. What do you do if your natural surroundings starve you of colour? Of course, I know there is colour in Iceland – the hot lava and the bubbling mineral pools (below) but much of the country is covered in barren lava fields (second image). Add to this the long dark Winters and the mild but often grey Summers and you soon discover that there are a lot of natural grey tones to this magical island.
So, a lot, even perhaps an excess of grey around.
What happens to compensate for the lack of colour is this…
and you paint your homes like this…
and your computer power cables get some treatment too:
and your road signs and bollards look like this:
and one of your most celebrated Icelandic artists, Erro, paints in this palette:
and shops look like this:
Ok, I think you can see what I’m saying. Starve the human psyche of colour and soon we will find our way to compensate.
But something else struck me on this visit. At first I thought the parks and small gardens looked rather untended. They were full of weeds, dandelions, buttercups and cow parsley mainly, growing out of every crack or gutter. But remember, it’s pretty difficult for anything to grow here on the hard lava rocks and the tricky climate. If you had a barren patch of land and a bright yellow flower appeared, you are hardly going to go and pull it out are you? They absolutely embrace little plants that we in Britain get excited about pulling out. I quite honestly see my garden at home with new light, and it’s not just an excuse to avoid weeding, it’s about appreciating life form.
And one last thing. Artist and product designer Almar Alfredsson, has just designed a set of wall plaques to commemorate Iceland’s 70 years of Independence this year. It’s a replica of a copper plate from 1944 showing the head of Jón Sigurðsson (1811-1879) whose birthday, the 17th of June was chosen to be Iceland’s annual National Holiday in recognition of his work on independence. And of course, why are these plaques so attractive and collectible? – he designed them in several bright colours of course!