Right before my flight off to Canada and to the Ukulele Festival of Québec, I decided to pop by, unannounced, at the Myndlistaskólinn í Reykjavík, the Reykyavik School of Visual Arts, or as I now refer to it, "that nice really arty place with the amazing view over the sea".

 

The idea was to get a few students to decorate my Ukuleles with winter-y art-y motives before I embarked on this Northern Road Trip. And the plan went really well, surprisingly.

This is mainly due, I'm guessing, to the great Icelandic open-mindedness. I said hello a few times and then was in the privileged company of the full-time drawing students' class. This is a pretty fantastic proof of Icelandic willingness, which shall be discussed in the Podcasts no doubt, when I make it back to the Island.

Class Teacher Bjarne with students, with a view on the sea

Class Teacher Bjarne with students, with a view on the sea

 

A few of the students quite liked the idea of decorating my ukuleles, and before they started doing so, the teacher asked me if I could play them a song. Unluckily for them. It probably interfered with their concentration more than anything, but they were too kind and polite to actually mention it. Which is very nice of them.

 

Both Ukuleles got graced with a little snowflake, the smaller uke, getting a bonus (I think) Rjúpa, which is a cute local sea bird they sometimes eat at Christmas.

And that same soprano, lucky thing, also got a wonderful Icelandic-Hawaian inspired woodcarving motif. Icelandic art-student Bergrun carved all the way around it, with an attention and a natural ease that were mesmerising to watch.

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And as to make my first stay in Iceland stand out even more in my memory, a young artist drew the very scene of my first video filmed a 30 minute walk away from the school, on the top half of my little ukulele. (You know, the "Going North" video/song)

Ukulele tattoos. The soprano is here about to receive the drawing you can see in the banner at the top of the page.

Ukulele tattoos. The soprano is here about to receive the drawing you can see in the banner at the top of the page.

A Icelandic figure carved into the back of my Cloud Music Tenor Ukulele by Ragnar Blaer Art. Hopefully it's a friendly Icelandic spirit. It's travelling with me anyhow.

A Icelandic figure carved into the back of my Cloud Music Tenor Ukulele by Ragnar Blaer Art. Hopefully it's a friendly Icelandic spirit. It's travelling with me anyhow.

I was able to ask a few questions to the head of the drawing department as well as to one of the main teachers, Bjarne. Extracts of both conversations will be in the upcoming Reykjavik podcasts, but while you wait here's the second one, with Bjarne, to quench your curiosity about this school and its students:

And just as Bergrun scratched the last carving into my ukulele's woody flesh, I had to rush off to the airport.

So it's with great gratitude to Bjarne's students, and with beautiful & inspiring artistic additions to my lot, that I head onward to Canada and to the Ukulele Festival of the (different) North: the Québec City Uke Fest du Nord.

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