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Art in the north - tourism and influences  
by Rósa Rut Þórisdóttir


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  When thinking of Iceland, many people have an image in their head of a cold and hostile place with total darkness, polar bears, Inuit and igloos.  Most people get flabbergasted when they find out the truth.  Icelandic nature seems to touch a cord in peoples mind, no matter where in the world they come from.  Everyone seems to be able to connect themselves to some aspect of nature; the calmness, the quietness, the cleanness, the feeling that no one has walked your way before you. 
  To remember their stay when they come back home, tourists like to take something with them, as proof for others that they have been places.  Tourists coming to Iceland find it important or appropriate to take a piece of nature with them.  Some take actual stones from the ground but most people buy their souvenirs.  As I mentioned in the beginning, authenticity plays a big part in the tourist's choice of souvenirs.  With works of art hanging around in so many places during their stay in Iceland, the tourist sees artworks as something special and authentic for the place.  Even though the subject of the paintings chosen by the tourist is different from the subject Icelanders themselves choose and hang on their walls, the authenticity of it is the same.         
  Willett’s theory is that to be able to enjoy art, you have to understand it.  The tourists find a connection to the nature and thus like in Willett’s theory are able to enjoy art as they understand Icelandic landscape paintings or art objects created out of Icelandic natural material.
  Icelandic artists say the tourists' choice of subject does not effect their creativity, though exceptions are made due to special wishes or circumstances.
  The influences run both ways.  Tourism influences art just as art influences the tourists.  With growing numbers of new artists, the demand of Icelandic buyers on the market will diminish.  Icelandic art in not exactly an export product on its own, so who knows, perhaps we might start seeing increasing numbers of landscape paintings in ten years time.
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Art in the north-tourism and influences, by Rósa Rut Þórisdóttir.
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