Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Beautiful Art From the People of Skógar

In the south of Iceland, there is a little village called Skógar-barely more than a cluster of houses-with the star being a beautiful waterfall, Skógafoss . The grand population of Skógafoss is currently just 25 people.

Despite the lilliputian population, there is a museum dedicated to the way of life, traditions and, arts and crafts of many generations of Skogarians (I may have just invented this word).

Anyway, what struck me as I walked around the museum was the quality and variety of exhibits-boats, clothes, all sorts of wooden objects (eg horse stirrups, farming tools to name just two), metal objects (cutlery), stuffed animals, furniture to name just of the few of the objects which grace this eclectic and fascinating museum. Each of the members of the community had their own skills and talents, and contributed handmade objects to the village and its life-some vital, some useful and some just purely decorative. Yet all handmade and displaying a level of craftmanship which has nearly all but vanished and it made me feel a little sad.

A cross stitch chair cover

My favourite objects were on the needlework floor. The rooms are packed to the rafters with all sorts of objects-there is a barely a flash of wooden wall to be seen. Chairs, cushions, tapestries-all beautifully decorated, it is hard to believe that so many items were produced from such a small, isolated settlement, whose current population stands at 25.

I believe this is a stool cover

Unfortunately, we had only 30 or so minutes in the museum before the bus took us back to Reykjavik. However I could happily have spent a number of hours in that museum and given the collection the time and attention I wanted. In the basement was a room of skilfully stuffed animals. Whatever your feelings on stuffed animals, there is no denying their fascination and the expertise required. Another member of our tour party was so enchanted by the stuffed birds, he raced back downstairs when he realised he had another few minutes before the bus left. His wife was stone-faced as they walked back to the coach.

If you're in Iceland and have a chance to visit Skógar and its wonderful little museum, I would say "go, go, go, you must!". There is such a variety of things in the museum, you are bound to find something you love.

The famous waterfall. The rainbow lasted about 3 minutes!

The museum website is:

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