Bowie Mural in Akranes Moves Fans To Tears

A mural dedicated to David Bowie in the West Iceland town of Akranes has become quite a local attraction and will be the site of a Bowie memorabilia exhibition this weekend, RÚV reports. According to Björn Lúðvíksson, the artist who created the memorial, the sight of the unexpected mural at Kirkjubraut 8 often takes viewers completely by surprise and some, he’s been told, have even been moved to tears.

The mural has been in place for two years and is located on the town’s main street. Many people have been “dumbstruck,” Björn laughed on a morning radio program on Rás 1, by running into such a memorial “out in the boondocks in Iceland.” He explained that the idea for the mural stemmed from smaller memorial artworks that he started creating shortly after Bowie’s death in 2016. “It started off with me painting stones—Bowie stones,” Björn said. “…I started painting Bowie stones and placing them down by the Akranesviti lighthouse.” Prior to painting the mural, Björn created four different stones in honor of Bowie, each of which represented a different period in the artist’s career.

There are murals honoring David Bowie all over the world, most notably perhaps, in the London neighborhood of Brixton where he grew up. Björn decided that such a memorial should exist in Akranes as well. “The response has been really good and I’ve heard of people who’ve been moved to tears [by it].”

Björn will be exhibiting his collection of Bowie memorabilia at the mural, along with his friend and fellow Bowie enthusiast Halldór Randver Lárusson. “We have most, if not all, of the albums, and various other things,” Björn said. “Halldór is also a graphic designer and he has been making all kinds of Bowie prints and made picture tees.”

The exhibition will run from 1 – 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday in front of the Bowie mural at Kirkjubraut 8 in Akranes.

Icelandic Company Marel Listed on Amsterdam Stock Exchange

Marel Euronext Exchange

Shares in Icelandic food processing company Marel were admitted to trading on the Euronext stock exchange in Amsterdam this morning, Kjarninn reports. The company’s shares rose in value immediately as trading began. Marel will continue to be listed on the Iceland Stock Exchange as well.

Marel is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of food processing machinery, employing around 5,500 people in over 30 countries. The company’s total market value has been estimated at €2.82b (ISK 393b/$3.2b).

“The listing on the Euronext Exchange will support the next steps in the company’s development and support ambitious growth goals,” stated Marel CEO Árni Oddur Þórðarson. “Our vision is a world where high quality foods are produced in a cost-effective and sustainable way.”

Iceland Ups Defence Budget By 37%

Icelandic coast guard

Iceland’s defence budget for 2019 is ISK 2.185 billion ($17.7m/€15.7m), compared to ISK 1.592 billion ($12.9m/€11.4m) in 2017, Kjarninn reports. The numbers come from a report by the Minister for Foreign Affairs presented to the Parliament in April 2019. According to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the budget increase is largely due to four projects.

ISK 127 million ($1m/€900,000) was allocated for updating the radar system and military base systems. ISK 60 million ($486,000/€430,000) went to strengthening contract-bound support of host states, while ISK 50 million ($405,000/€360,000) went to routine defence exercises in accordance with NATO’s defence program. Finally, ISK 35 million were allocated to contract-bound maintenance of defence facilities.

The largest proportion of the funding goes toward operation of the Icelandic Coast Guard and Keflavík Airport, or ISK 1.519 billion ($12.3m/€10.9m). ISK 217 million ($1.8m/€1.6m) went toward solidarity operations.

According to the report, the foundation of Iceland’s defence policy is its membership in NATO and its 1951 Defence Agreement signed with the United States. Growing defence expenses are described as “having to do with growing commitments that Iceland has taken on within NATO and the increasing temporary presence of NATO forces at Keflavík Airport due to worsening security conditions in Europe, including in the North Atlantic.”