Sigurjón Ólafsson

  • Year : 1959-1963
  • Height : 330 cm
  • Width : 190 cm
  • Category : Skúlptúr
  • Sub-category : Málmskúlptúr

In Sogamýri from 1966, transferred to Hlemmur transport terminal 2005 On the occasion of his fiftieth birthday in 1958, the City of Reykjavík commissioned Sigurjón to make a bronze statue of a packhorse. A potent symbol of Iceland’s past, when the horse was the Icelanders’ only means of overland transport, the piece was to be placed at Hlemmur: formerly a stopping-place for trains of pack horses to and from Reykjavík, in later years it became a centre of public transport. There were also plans to place at Hlemmur a replica of the drinking trough where horses had been watered in olden times. The piece depicts a heavily laden mare with her foal. On the left side she is carrying planks of wood (always in short supply, as Iceland had no large trees), while on the right she had been loaded with a wooden chest and bundles. The foal follows along close behind her. Sigurjón included the foal to emphasise the conditions of impoverished farmers: some were so poor that even a mare with a foal had to be used as a beast of burden. During his childhood in Eyrarbakki – then an important trading port – Sigurjón had seen farmers travelling to and from the village with their laden horses: they would make the journey in spring and autumn, bringing their woollen goods, dried fish and meat to exchange for imported commodities such as tobacco, coffee, grain and sugar. A photograph of farmers with their laden horses, taken about 1890, is believed to have been the model for Sigurjón’s sculpture. He developed the idea in 1959–63, and in 1965 it was cast in bronze at the Lauritz Rasmussen foundry in Copenhagen. The foal was not cast until 1984, for reasons of cost.

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