Encounters with Elfes and Trolls in Iceland

Mineral landscape and stones have always fascinated me.
While watching nature, I see a body, full of life, movements, feelings and emotions.
The earth is in constant evolution as a human being, living its life and going through rough times with accidents as well as flat and quiet times.
In my work as a sculptor I try to express the inherent relationship between body and landscape.
For me Iceland was the best country concerning mobility and fragility of earth’s crust.
With my friend Denis, who is also a sculptor, we’ve spent a wonderful time visiting Reykjavik. Then we drove down for six days in South Iceland with our Camper van rental. This was the perfect way to feed our need of freedom and exploration!
We were both looking for shapes, and we have seen beautiful landscapes, mountains, glaciers, waterfall…
But when I looked at the rocks, I found out that it was very different pattern from what I had expected or figured out. Stones seemed to be inhabited by strange beings! Of course I had read tons of texts and legends about elfes and trolls, these “invisible” beings that live in Iceland. It seems to me they are the personification of nature, its soul in a way.
I’m obviously not an expert of those stories, but I really like this idea of invisible presences and I enjoyed those encounters due to the diversity of stone’s shapes during our trip. Rather than thinking about it’s inert matter, I enjoy imaging it, and day dream about it, inventing and making up “other” stories out of them.
Hereby are the pictures of ten of these “encounters” crossed in different places during this great week in Iceland. I let my fantasy write their “true” story.

Waiting for night

During our first day in the south Iceland, having left behind us the noise and fury of Seljalandfoss, this huge cascade behind which you can walk, I saw this rock with a figure, like a meditating monk. He seemed to look at the horizon and wait quietly for the night to fall. The painting by Caspar David Friedrich, “The monk at the seaside” came to my mind. A Peace’s symbol in an earthly paradise.
Camper van vacation in Iceland


The next day, we have walked along a river to reach Seljavallalaug’s hot source. Our wal was dominated by this scary face, that looked like a death’s head. It had hollow cheeks and big teeth. It was as if it was eating the rocks and lichens. Quite scary ! It was as if the mountain was eating itself !
Hiking around Seljalandsfoss

Fish mouth

Walking a little further, a mountain stood in front of us, with a big mouth like a dolphin, a face crushed that looked like a very old man’s one looking at us while we were walking. He seemed horrified not to be able to move anymore. The mountain had caught him!
Trolls in the Icelandic mountains

Elf stones in IcelandSmiley

Still walking a little further, among the little rocks rolled by the river, that is now a dry river, I discovered a tiny smiling face. Looking so small in the landscape, did it lose its way like Tom Thumb? Will the bunch of grass around it gather on his head and become his hair?

Icelandic rocksPrincess

Dominating Thingvellir’s fault I saw a princess standing calm and peaceful in that stone’s chaos. Was she dreaming of justice and equality? What can a princess do in the place where democracy was created, where the parliament, voice of the people, was gathering ? Or is she the last remaining piece of a gigantic chess game that has disappeared between the tectonic plates? Everything seems fragile in these surroundings, and this silhouette testifies it.

Sleeping and snoring

At the bottom of Hekla volcano, along road 26, laying among the stones, sleeping in the rocks’ desert, I found a black man, looking like an Inca. He was maybe whirring but the whistle of the wind prevented me from hearing anything.
Camper vanning in Iceland


Walking further in that great and desert lava field, we came up to a black and griming face that was staring at me with bulging eyes. It was the volcano’s face, somber, tormented, suffering and yet fascinating. I would like him to tell me the earth’s interior, the magma, the viscous basalt and the violence of the explosion when he flied out of the volcano.
A face written in stone

GeysirSteam body

As we arrived in Geysir, I saw a steam body’shape rising all of a sudden from the earth, then disappearing quickly and coming back with the same strength ten minutes later. It was a water powerful spirit, spouting out of a transparent and wonderful water bubble. He was light and elegant but we had to be careful because its beauty can burn!

Round eyes

Icelandic trollsI found a small stone on Reynifsjara’s beach. His eyes were as round as small balls. He seemed so lost on the vast black sand. He looked so small near this huge basaltic organ. His face expressed a total amazement at all these tourists making so many pictures of themselves and making selfies!

Walking on the sea

In Reynisfjara, far away in the sea, I saw these two giants. The big one was sitting on his throne, as the thin one was leaving him, departing towards the horizon, walking on the sea. A desire of independence and solitude, as the child leaving his mother.
Reynisdrangar outside the black sand beach Reynisfjara
After these eight days spent in Iceland, we also left this amazing, beautiful and wonderful country. We couldn’t walk on the sea, but we flew back to Paris, France, with plenty of images in our eyes and in our minds. I had to leave behind me these strange inhabitants we crossed all along our trip… But this is not so sure ! I’ve already pinned some of my photographs on my workshop’s walls. I have already sketched the first drawings and made some room for the work to come.
I’ll be back as soon as possible to meet again my invisible friends.
Happy Camping!  #CamperStories

 Iceland Travel Guides

South Iceland Travel Guide Black sand beaches Travel Guide

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