Culture is all the ways we remember, tell and celebrate our stories.

Culture is all the ways we remember, tell and celebrate our stories.

This photo is of a print that was on the wall at Lónkot in Skagafjörður, Iceland (a beautiful Guest House) near where vagabond artist and poet Sölvi Helgason (1820-1895) was born.

An interesting character, he called himself ‘Sólon Íslandus’ and believed that he was a brilliant genius in many areas including art, poetry, science, history, mathematics, philosophy and more. He was considered mentally ill by the community of the time. Now regarded predominantly as innovative, creative and courageous.

As a young teen Sölvi had become a homeless orphan. He dreamed of becoming the greatest man in Iceland. Despite his poverty and homelessness he was determined to make his dream come true. According to Danish colonial rule, vagrancy was a crime, and he was jailed in Denmark for 3 years. Still, when he returned, Sölvi walked Iceland in search of opportunities to share his creativity and philosophy, to learn and to experience great things. He was in love with life, art and beauty. He painted and drew and wrote poetry. He walked his own path, married a disabled woman whom he carried on his back, and raised a daughter who eventually moved to North America.

References to Sölvi are many in the cultural landscape of Iceland. The art can be seen in Reykjavik, and in prints in places around the country. There is a film about him, and products that honour him; like the Islandus Watch made by JS Watch Company Reykjavik and an award winning new drink product in Iceland from Íslandus inspired by Icelandic cultural heritage and traditional cuisine made from whey, berries and herbs.

Arden Jackson

Art: Sölvi Helgason 1820-1895
Photo: Arden Jackson