(A Walk with the Hawk… with Haukur G from Reykjavík)

I met Haukur G at Úlfarsfell café in the western edge of Reykjavík. It’s a cute place – part coffeehouse, part bookshop, and it’s enough off the beaten tourist track that you might run into Björk here picking up magazines. I was surprised to see this little place selling copies of Elska (maybe Björk herself browsed one) and was even told that one cheeky customer was recently seen taking photos with her phone of some of the pages inside Elska. How very dare she?!

As I thought Haukur was in a hurry, I’d planned to just shoot him in the neighbourhood near the café… but he wasn’t in that much of a hurry, so instead we went to the edge of Seltjarnarnes, a suburb on the westernmost edges of the island, not far from the café. There we started our shoot near a hut used to hang fish for drying. The odour was horrendous, especially when we were on the wrong side of the wind. On the other side, however, was a little bubbling pot of water coming up from a geothermal ground-kettle. The sulphuric odour rising out of it was just as strong as the fish smell. I wasn’t keen on either stench, so we moved on.

A bit to the west is a little bit of land with a lighthouse. During high tide, it’s an unreachable island, but in low tide, it’s part of a peninsula. As it was low tide, we walked across, and soon Haukur began to show a side of him that’s so common amongst Icelanders. That attribute is his biophilia. 

As we walked he’d stop to look at birds, which he knew the names of, and remarked at how they’re not usually here at this time of year. Then we’d stumble across some plant, that he also knew the name of. Being so connected with nature is such a common Icelandic experience, and although at first it seems rather nerdy, it’s actually refreshing when you consider that other cultures put their spirituality straight into churches whereas Icelanders put it into nature. Just my opinion.

As we finished up shooting, he paused to notice another bird in the distance, and for some reason it occurred to me to ask if his name, ‘Haukur’, had a meaning in Icelandic. “It means ‘hawk’”, he said. How appropriate.

See more of Haukur G and read his story in Elska Magazine issue (03) Reykjavík


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