Extreme Adventure

Until mid 2013 the water tower of Keflavik was a disconsolate building that had completely lost its function and former energetic profile. The nearby people that had to see it every day became more and more depressed by this grey colossus and they wanted the building to be torn down. When Toyist Dejo visited his fellow Icelandic artists UUlUU and Qooimee, he noticed, directly after landing at the nearby airport, the gloomy tower that had not been used for more than two decades and was therefore falling into disrepair. The projects he had realized before with other Toyists came instantly to mind. A possible transformation of this water tower to another Toyistic bastion seemed to him to be an ideal and logical continuation of the already realised projects like the artistic upgrade of the gas container in Emmen.

The idea was quickly born and the plan was dealt with and worked out speedily. Even before he went back to Holland, Dejo had the necessary pledges and commitments in his pocket. Thanks to the cooperation of the community and local politicians, among them the enthusiastic mayor Arni Sigfusson, it was possible to speed up the realisation of the plans. But, as has happened before during mega-projects that the Toyists are famous for, the sting again was in the tail. The Gods of Weather proved unpredictable and unrelenting. They challenged and harassed the Toyists and put them to the ultimate test. The fact that the neglected water tower was transformed into a colourful eye-catcher in less than six weeks time can be seen as a small miracle. Thanks to the unrelenting effort of eleven Toyists this dull colossus, once covered with ugly graffiti, gained the flair and appeal that can be seen as ‘Uppspretta raised exponentially’.

The summer of 2013 was one never to be forgotten. Even the oldest inhabitants of Keflavik, who are used to it, had to dig deep in their memory to recall such a bad summer. Studying statistics and climate diagrams leads to the conclusion that the summer of 2013 was the worst and most bleak since 1923. The extreme weather conditions in which eleven Toyists had to accomplish their mega-job began with excessively low temperatures and a relentless storm force wind which tore the tarpaulin apart and shoved the scaffolding against the wall of the water tower. The Toyists drew courage from the presence of their lucky number 13 in the year number 2013. Besides that numerologists among us must conclude that 1923 contains both the year of foundation of Toyism and their lucky number. It had to turn out well eventually! A lot of work was done by Qooimee who followed her own unprecedented method to give substance to the phenomenon ‘crowdfunding’. She mobilised practically everyone in Keflavik and its suburbs who could help with the process of completing the project within the set time frame and limited financial scope. The transformation of the once abused and discarded water tower to a genuine piece of art propelled Keflavik’s solidarity to unprecedented heights. Defying the elements grew to be an exhilarating feat of strength: a battle between man and nature.

Iceland will never run out of energy. Knowing this the artists worked with every means at their disposal to master this ferocious wind. The destroyed tarpaulins were replaced by two hundred hessian coffee bags that were first torn apart and then sown together again by the Toyists. This new covering had to hide the painting from sight until the day of revealing on the 6th of September 2013. In this manner the artists could continue undisturbed with work on the mural, consisting of six to eight layers of paint. During the preparation period the image on the water tank, nine meters in height and thirtysix meters in circumference, was put together according to a proven Toyism scenario. The participating Toyists supplied input in the form of sketches, which were included in the overall design based on the legend of puffin Uppspretta. Then the design was transferred to the prepared wall of the water tank by drawing lines of chalk. This was done in separate areas of fifty square centimetres. Despite the awful weather conditions, the Toyists firmly persevered. People living in the area treated them with apple turnovers and chocolate cake almost every day encouraging them to persist, no matter what happened.

When the wind finally abated, it started to rain. And it did not stop raining. Water came through everywhere and threatened to literally wash away the paintwork. Due to the leaking top cover and broken roof construction, eight days of valuable working time was ruined. The Toyists almost became desperate, but again the mayor of Keflavik and his fellow city managers, resolved the issues. They guaranteed renewal of the roof, and took care of a special water resistant finishing layer of varnish as well as a lighting construction that was necessary to change the water tower into a beacon of light on their island. Together with the commitment of the inhabitants and city managers the extra time spent by the Toyists resulted in completing the work even on the wet side of the water tower in time. Iceland will never run out of energy. Uppspretta Forever.

Author: Wim van der Beek (Uppspretta)

Coffee Tower

Keflavik in the Summer of 2013