The Stone Carvings of Páll Guðmundsson – Iceland - Atlas Obscura

The Stone Carvings of Páll Guðmundsson

A modern artist's primitive stone faces and unique rock instrument join Iceland's terrain with its history. 


Artist and rock carver Páll Guðmundsson uses the stones of his native Iceland to create a legacy of neo-primitive works including a stone xylophone that has actually been used in concert with some major Icelandic musicians.

Working out of his hometown (which he has never moved away from) of Húsafell, Guðmundsson works mainly in sculpture chiseled out of native rock. The artist has two major installations around his home, one at a site called the “Ghost Fold,” and another collection of carvings in the valley of Bæjargil. The work in the Ghost Fold is based on the local story of a priest who was able to put 18 ghosts to rest at the site. Guðmundsson installed 18 stone ghost heads being forced back into the ground to reference the legend.

His stone faces carved into the rocks in the valley of Bæjargil are more broadly representative of the primitive sculpture style. Consisting of a handful of stony visages of varying size, this collection harkens back to Iceland’s Nordic art tradition.

Guðmundsson also famously created a working stone xylophone (technically an idiophone) that was featured in collaboration with Icelandic band, Sigur Ros. While the instrument is not on public display, videos of it playing can be found online.

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