Spanish illustrator Ignacio López Moreno, who is also a professor at the University of Murcia, is currently decorating the outer walls of the Sea Monster Museum in Bíldudalur, the West Fjords, as a token of gratitude to the village’s inhabitants.
Inside the Sea Monster Museum. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
“They gave me and my wife such a warm welcome that I’m starting to dread leaving,” Moreno told Fréttabladid. He doesn’t find the fact that many locals believe sea monsters exist in the fjord Arnarfjördur, by which Bíldudalur stands, any more strange than the Spanish believing saints are all around.
“It appears to me that in Iceland monsters, trolls and other supernatural beings serve a similar role as the saints in Spain,” Moreno commented.
“What all these phenomena have in common is that they unite the people in certain areas under certain conditions and so monsters exist to some extent in the same way as the saint who is honored at the village festival in my village,” he elaborated.
“I first came [to Bíldudalur] last winter with a research grant in my pocket and was aided in every way possible. I also stayed in Ísafjördur and Reykjavík. Then I returned to Spain and finished my PhD project which was marked by my stay in Iceland,” Moreno said.
He wasn’t fazed about living in the Icelandic West Fjords in the dead of winter. “The winter weather was not as bad as I expected but it’s the warmth of the Icelanders that surprised me the most. […] When came back to Bíldudalur in July I was welcomed like any other local returning from a long journey.”
Moreno will take some of Arnarfjördur’s monsters with him to Spain; he intends to introduce them to academics at a conference at the Complutense University of Madrid in October.
“It is about creative cities,” Moreno explained. “Bíldudalur can hardly be defined as a city but the ability and joy of creativity is not lacking.”
“I just hope my audience will be open-minded about my presentation; it may not be easy to talk about monsters at an academic platform,” Moreno said, adding, “Hopefully they won’t think I lost my mind here at the edge of the Arctic.”
Click here to read more about the monsters in Arnarfjördur and the Sea Monster Museum in Bíldudalur.