Iceland: Part I. (Huldufólk & the Landvættir)

Huldufólk is the Icelandic name for their native ‘hidden people’ or ‘elves’ there is a second name for them which is: Álfar, but this is considered more derogative. The elves are usually invisible but if they want you to see them then you will, they will treat you with favours if you are kind to them, but they will act maliciously if any harm is done to them.

Huldu: pertaining to secrecy.

Fólk: people.

“Icelanders are few in number, so in the old times we doubled our population with tales of elves and fairies.” -President, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson.

I’m looking into this because I am visiting Iceland at the end of March and I want to take advantage of this different land and culture. I’ve seen some photographers who paint over their work to add/hide things. I want to draw on the photographs, make the work more interactive, perhaps get someone like my young sister (9) to draw on her idea of the elves. Just to be able to show my range and ability in my portfolio.

Their are also four Landvættir (Guardians) of Iceland: a Dragon, a Great Bird, a Huge Bull and a Mountain Giant, they Guard the East, North, West and South (respectively). The description of the Great Bird is one the got me hooked on the idea of the Landvættir, as the magicians spirit (in the guise of a whale looked up the valley he saw the great bird, so large that its wings touched the mountains on either side.

I will do a part two after my visit, I will hopefully have some photographs and have tried drawing by then.

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