Art at the airport

DIRECTIONS (ÁTTIR)

Directions (“Áttir”) is a sculptural installation by Steinunn Þórarinsdóttir (born in 1955). It features four human-like figures all cast in aluminium from the same mould. Standing on Icelandic basalt columns, each figure faces one of the four cardinal directions. The sculpture is about three metres high and stands within a three-metre diameter circle. If the circle is envisioned within a square, this gives the piece the dimensions 3m x 3m x 3m. Directions was unveiled at the inauguration of the Leifur Eiriksson Air Terminal in April 2007 following extensive renovations. Itoriginally stood in the terminal’s commercial area, but was relocated outside the arrivals hall in consultation with the artist in June 2017.

The sculptor has said of the work: “Of course, the piece strongly suggests travel by pointing in the four cardinal directions. It also refers to the fact that we can all lose direction in life, at which point it becomes necessary to find the right way.”

Artist’s website: www.steinunnth.com

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SILVER SABLER 

This work by Icelandic postmodern artist Erró (born in 1932) is a mural of hand-painted ceramic tiles. It is a replica of a painting of the same name dating from 1999, here enlarged to a ceramic version of 11 x 4.5 metres. The piece partly deals with the legends of the skies, the rootlessness of modern life and the air terminal as a place of adventurous possibilities.

It was installed in 2017 in the terminal’s commercial area.

RIFT (FLEKASKIL)

The installation piece Rift (“Flekaskil”) is by Icelandic artist Kristján Guðmundsson (born in 1941). It symbolises the boundary between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, which runs across Iceland from the southwest to the northeast of the country. It is a floor installation consisting of a 15-metre long line made of stainless steel, which is inlaid into the oak floor on Level 1 of the terminal’s south building. The direction of the line marks the general orientation of the plate boundary. The line’s width of 2 cm is equal to the rate at which the gap between the North American and Eurasian landmasses is widening each year in Iceland.

Rift is one of a number of pieces selected in an artworks competition during the construction of the terminal’s south building.

REFERENCE POINT (TILVÍSUNARPUNKTUR)

Reference Point (“Tilvísunarpunktur”) is also by Kristján Guðmundsson. This piece refers to the location where Keflavik Airport’s runways intersect, expressed in latitude and longitude. At the centre of the piece is an inscription of geographic coordinates made of stainless steel, which is inlaid into the oak floor on Level 2 of the terminal’s south building. The inscription is enclosed in a stainless-steel circle with a diameter of 250 cm and a line width of 5 cm. Notches in the circle represent the four cardinal directions.

Rift is one of a number of pieces selected in an artworks competition during the construction of the terminal’s south building.

RAINBOW (REGNBOGI)

Rainbow (“Regnbogi”) is by Icelandic artist Rúrí (born in 1951). The sculpture stands in front of the terminal’s northern facade. Extending 24 metres into the sky, Rainbow is the tallest work of art in Iceland. It is made of square-shaped, stainless-steel tubes and stained glass. The rainbow’s colours are composed of 313 yellow, red, green and blue stained glass units. The sculpture rises from a base of Icelandic dolerite rock and is lit up at night. The artist has said of the piece: “The rainbow is an unfinished construction – I like to imagine that perhaps one day, in a hundred or a thousand years, somebody will pick up where I left off and continue the work. It will then climb skywards higher and higher before starting its descent, until at last touching the earth and thereby completing the rainbow.”


Rainbow is one of two pieces to win first prize in a competition to select outdoor sculptures at the Leifur Eiriksson Air Terminal held shortly after its inauguration. The sculpture was constructed in 1991.

Artist’s website: www.ruri.is


THE JET NEST (ÞOTUHREIÐUR)

The Jet Nest (“Þotuhreiður”) is by Icelandic artist Magnús Tómasson (born in 1943). The sculpture shows a large egg from which a “new-born” jet aircraft is hatching like a bird’s young. The steel egg is perched on a nest of rocks. The artist, Magnús Tómasson, says the idea for the piece was born many years ago: “I was working on a series on the history of birds, which included a small hen’s egg with a beak poking out. I developed this idea further and the result is The Jet Nest, my largest piece.” The sculpture stands at a total height of about 9 metres in the centre of a lit-up pond at the terminal’s north side. The stainless-steel egg is 5.6 metres tall, 4.2 metres wide and weighs more than five tonnes. The nest of rocks on which the egg is positioned is 14 metres in diameter and the pond covers an area of 1,800 square metres.

The Jet Nest is one of two pieces to win first prize in a competition to select outdoor sculptures at the Leifur Eiriksson Air Terminal held shortly after its inauguration.

YEARNING FOR FLIGHT (FLUGÞRÁ)

Yearning for Flight (“Flugþrá”) is one of two stained glass works at the terminal by Icelandic artist Leifur Breiðfjörð (born in 1945). The two pieces are kite-shaped and designed to harmonise with the building’s architecture. The opal, yellow and opaque glass embedded in the framework comes alive when lit up at night.

Sized at 720 x 970 cm, Yearning for Flight hangs in the departure hall at the north window.

Artist’s website: http://www.breidfjord.com/


ICAROS (ÍKARUS)

Icarus (“Íkarus”) is the second of the two stained glass works by Leifur Breiðfjörð at the terminal. The central theme of both pieces is the human desire to fly, explored here through the myth of Icarus, modern-day astronauts and the birds of the sky. The piece is lit up at night.

The dimensions of Icarus are 490 x 970 cm. It hangs in the departure hall at the south window.

Artist’s website: http://www.breidfjord.com/

BAS-RELIEF OF LEIFUR EIRÍKSSON

This piece is by Icelandic artist Ívar Valgarðsson (born in 1954). It is a bas-relief version of Alexander Calder’s memorial statue of Viking explorer Leifur Eiríksson that stands in front of Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavík’s city centre. The image is fixed on a 2.8-metre tall triangular pillar of dolerite rock.

The world’s first democratically elected female president, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, unveiled the piece at the terminal’s inauguration on 14 April 1987. The terminal draws its name from the piece’s subject, Leifur Eiríksson, who was the first European known to have discovered the Americas.

I SEND GREETINGS (ÉG BIÐ AÐ HEILSA)

The title of this piece by Icelandic sculptor Sigurjón Ólafsson (1908-1982) refers to a poem of the same name by one of Iceland’s best loved poets, Jónas Hallgrímsson (1807-1845). Although abstract in form, the sculpture alludes to lines in Hallgrímsson’s poetry such as the “faithful thrush, who flies fathomless heaven to reach our valleys” and the girl back home in Iceland to whom the poet sends his greetings. These allusions, in turn, reflect the comings and goings at the terminal, including the welcome and goodbye greetings exchanged.

Acquired by the terminal in 1988, the piece is one of three bronze casts made from the original. I send greetings is located in the terminal’s concourse.

The Sigurjón Ólafsson Museum’s website: www.lso.is