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Iceland Mag


Iceland Airwaves teams up bands and street artists to transform Reykjavík walls into giant artwork

By Magnús Sveinn Helgason

  • Painting the music A mural by Deih, inspired by XLF on Vesturgata street. Photo/Jón Kaldal 

This year‘s Iceland Airwaves will not only feature musical acts but visual art as well. The festival has teamed up with a number of international street artists to transform city walls into giant works of art.

Painting the music
Over the past two weeks, visitors and Reykjavík residents alike have observed street artists paint ten large-scale murals stretching the entire sides of downtown buildings. These murals are part of an Iceland Airwaves event called Wallpoetry and are the result of a collaboration between some of the headlining acts at this year‘s Airwaves and street artists picked by Urban Nation Berlin‘s Yasha Young.

Read more: Full line-up of Iceland Airwaves announced

The results are pretty cool, judging by these photos! 


Collaboration of Caratoes and Ylja The corner of Klapparstígur and laugavegur streets. Photo/Jón Kaldal.

The idea, according to the website of Iceland Airwaves, is to connect creative minds from all over the world with one another and bring the creative experience of music and visual art to the city, making it "even more beautiful." Yasha Young, who curated the group of artists, hoped to capture and showcase on city walls the "invisible creative process when a painter listens to a record while painting," or when a musician experiences a piece of visual art.

Each mural inspired by an artist
To achieve this Yasha Young chose a group of international street artists and with the help of Iceland Airwaves these were carefully teamed up with musicians who are headlining this year‘s Iceland Airwaves. The musicians provided the street artists with a song, lyrics or poetry especially chosen or written for this project, who then proceeded to create giant murals on city walls inspired by this music or poetry.

The only other stipulation was that the works of art had to be finished over 14 days, come rain or shine. 

Telmo Miel inspired by Mercury Rev Warehouse on Hólmaslóð street by the old harbour. Photo/Jón Kaldal.

Telmo Miel is the name used by Dutch street artists Telmo Pieper and Miel Krutzmann who illustrated the song „Moth Light“ by Mercury Rev. 


Tankpetrol inspired by gusgus Grandagarður street by the old harbour. Photo/Jón Kaldal.

Polish street artist Tankpetrol illustrated the music of Icelandic electronica band gusgus. 

Wall poetry, Iceland Airwaves, Ingólfstorg, NASA
Still a work in progress The only mural which has not yet been completed is this work by Ugly Brothers, inspired by Icelandic rapper Gísli Pálmi. Photo/Jón Kaldal.

Ugly Brothers created this mural inspired by Icelandic rapper Gísli Pálmi, who is best known internationally for having swung a punch at the Jackass star Bam Margera at the music festival Secret Solstice in Reykjavík earlier this summer.


Evoca 1 inspired by Shaun & Starr On the side of the Ministry of Fisheries on Skúlagata street. Photo/Jón Kaldal.

Dominican born Evoca 1 illustrated the music of Brooklin based R&B/Soul group Shaun & Starr, but with a clear reference to the building where the mural was painted. A classic/retro fisherman is also a fitting decoration for the Ministry of Fisheries!


Li-Hill inspired by John Grant An alley on Hverfisgata street behind the office of the Prime minister, on the back of concert venue Gamla Bíó. Photo/Jón Kaldal

Toronto based Li-Hill illustrated iceland based John Grant's song "Pale Green Ghosts".


Ernest Zacharevic inspired by Dikta Hverfisgata street. Photo/Jón Kaldal.

Ernest Zacharevic is a Lithuanian artist currently residing in South East Asia who illustrated the song "We’ll Meet Again" by Icelandic band Dikta.


Elle inspired by ÚlfurÚlfur On the side of an old building on Laugavegur street no 35. Photo/Jón Kaldal

Brooklyn based Elle, who has made frequent use of wolves in her previous work was the obvious candidate to illustrate the music of Icelandic band ÚlfurÚlfur - úlfur being the Icelandic word for wolf.


D*Face inspired by Laxdæla Saga Wall of house no 66 on the main shopping street Laugavegur. Photo/Jón Kaldal.

But these photographs don‘t do the murals justice. With this map you can go and check them out yourself!


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