Uppspretta – Reykjanesbær, Iceland - Atlas Obscura


Reykjanesbær, Iceland

This wild explosion of color on a disused water tower tells the whimsical tale of a curious puffin. 


A playful, whimsical tale graces the sides of this abandoned water tower. The vibrant visuals tell the story of Uppspretta, who was clearly the Curious George of puffins.

As the tale goes, Uppspretta studied everything he could about his native Iceland and discovered that his homeland was actually colonized by the Norsemen. Which meant he had to journey to Norway to find a wife, of course! As puffins are not really meant for lengthy flight it’s not surprising he didn’t reach his destination, but instead landed in the middle of the Netherlands. Highjinx ensued and, finally, upon returning to Iceland, he did eventually marry a Norwegian puffin and became Leader of the Puffins of Iceland.

Uppspretta’s tale is captured visually n vibrant, vivid color on a disused water tower hiding in plain sight in Keflavík, Iceland. How on Earth did it get there? Two words: The Toyists.

Birthed in the early ‘90s in Emmen, a northeastern berg of The Netherlands, The Toyists are an international collective of artists who espouse a clear-cut manifesto for the physical appearance of the artwork. This manifesto is secret (only Toyists can access it) but one thing is for sure: color and a sense of the playful appear to be important. Anonymity is also key: each artist on the Toyist team adopts a pseudonym and the works, which are mostly site specific, are done as a collective. The result is not only eye-catching street art but a refreshingly ego-free expression of creativity in the often narcissistic business of art

Uppspretta’s legend was authored and painted by 11 Toyists from five different countries during the summer of 2013. It took seven weeks to complete due to foul weather. Uppspretta is The Toyists’ first piece of art outside of The Netherlands. Other works include The Dot (a giant painted spherical gas container) and Dreams for Breakfast (on the Hotel Ten Cate), both in Emmen.

Know Before You Go

Uppspretta is hard to miss—Keflavik is pretty flat—and open to the public 24/7.

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