If it's not for the abundance of street art and colourful buildings adding a touch of quirkiness to Reykjavik, it's the sculptures. Around the city are many striking and interesting sculptures and statues, each with their own story. Here is a collection of my favourites and where to find them.
Unknown Bureaucrat (1993)
Beginning with my favourite is this sculpture possibly depicting an employee imprisoned by the rigmarole of work. The block of rock is a perfect metaphor for the burden of work that bears little satisfaction, while at the same time depicting the narrative of the faceless official who is only a cog in the wheel, and never a person to most of us.
Steinunn Thorarinsdottir (1955-) is most well known for her life-sized, anonymous, and nude sculptures dotted around Reykjavik. You can find Roots (2000) installed on the sidewalk of a busy shopping street, focusing on the torso and head of two figures, who are encased in rectangular blocks of bronze - or some say they could be suitcases. These subjects are like the inverse of the Unknown Bureaucrat, and though the two figures face each other, one gazes upwards and the other peers at the ground. They are incapable of moving as residents, workers, and tourists buzz around them. Alienation is often a theme of Thorarinsdottir's work.
Sun Voyager (1990)
Positioned beautifully overlooking the Kollafjordur fjord, this sculpture is often mistakenly interpreted as a Viking Ship or whale, but the Sun Voyager is actually an ode to the sun, and said to represent a promise of an uninhabited country as well as hope, search, progress and freedom.
Water Carrier (1937)
Originally this statue was strongly opposed in the city centre, as Asmundur's style was considered controversial in the eyes of Icelanders and this female form was not deemed beautiful enough so it was placed in less prominent locations around Reykjavik. However, discussions around beauty have broadened over time and it was recently moved to the corner of Bankastraeti and Laekjargata, where it was originally intended. Its pyramid form suggests strength and stability, which is important, since the image depicts the women who carried water year-round to every household in town, whatever the weather.
Boy and Girl (1937) Sculptor Porbjorg Palsdottir is considered a pioneer, being one of the first recognised female sculptors in Iceland. Here, she depicts her teenage children, Kata and Stebbi. The son appears leaning against a lamp post in a carefree manner while his sister sits still with her hands closed together, seemingly in deep thought.
Mothers' Love (1928)
The aptly titled sculpture 'Mother's Love' (1928) is located inside 'Mothers' Garden' in Reykjavik. It is a sculpture by Iceland's first professional female sculptor, Nina Sæmundsson who was born in 1892 and died in 1965. This garden was intended as a recreational park for mothers in Reykjavik and their children. Interestingly it was the first statue in a public place in Reykjavik which is not a monument to a prominent male figure. Nearby, you will also find another sculpture by Sæmundsson in the form of a mermaid appearing out from the waters of Tjornin pond.