Folk art and nativists are not high on every art fan’s list. The sometimes primitive and often unusual works of art by little known members of the public may bring forward a smile of pity or arrogance. Many find it hard to take the art of “amateurs” seriously. One who does is Marínó P. Hafstein, who runs the so-called Safnasafn or Museum-museum just off the road by Svalbardseyri, a few kilometers east of Akureyri.
The Museum – museum. Photo: Benedikt Jóhannesson/Iceland Review
The modern, clean and bright exhibition halls are in sharp contrast to the stereotype of a museum of outsider art, often found in seedy old barracks or dark basements in shady alleys. In the summer of 2012, it features a show by Pálmi Kristinn Arngrímsson, an old man who carves figures out of wood. Another is the primitive and often scary statues by Ragnar Bjarnason, who used to have them on display in his garden in Reykjavík.
The Politician by Pálmi Arngrímsson. Photo: Benedikt Jóhannesson/Iceland Review
The formal English name is the Icelandic Folk and Outsider Art Museum. At present it stores approximately 4.100 works. The museum has an extensive exhibition area, a library and research facilities, as well as accommodation for tourists, visiting artists and scholars. Every year 12-15 new exhibitions are on display in the museum, and along with paintings, drawings and sculptures, the collection also encompasses embroidery, models, souvenirs, books, dolls, toys and tools, thus presenting an interesting view on the various outlets for creativity and what inspires it.
The Devil by Pálmi Arngrímsson. Photo: Benedikt Jóhannesson/Iceland Review
It is a museum you leave in a better mood than when you came.