Iceland Center Stage, But Not as Proud as Usual

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Iceland Center Stage, But Not as Proud as Usual

By Alëx Elliott
Near Ólafsvík

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Icelandic nature is the subject of a new photographic exhibition in France, but it is causing surprise and concern.

The new photography exhibition by Julien Joly began in Rennes, the capital of the Brittany region, on Good Friday.

Julien Joly traveled to Iceland last summer with the intention of capturing the beauty of the country’s nature and scenery on film. But when he went on a hiking trip to the Hornstrandir national nature reserve in the far north of the Westfjords region he saw so much plastic and other human detritus on the beaches that he decided to change the focus of his upcoming exhibition to draw attention to pollution of the sea.

The Hornstrandir peninsula has been uninhabited for over half a century. Since the settlement of Iceland it has been the landing point of thousands of tons of driftwood from Finland, Siberia and the Baltic – which was highly prized in this land of few trees. In recent decades the wood has been joined by masses of plastic from Iceland and further afield.

Joly told reporters that an uninhabited seashore covered in plastic waste was the last thing he expected to see when he embarked on his photography project. He says that Icelanders have reacted strongly to his images and that they have generally been shocked by the poor state of their country’s beaches. If anything tough, he says, the revelation has been even more surprising to French people, who generally imagine Iceland as completely pure and unpolluted, RÚV reported.

Plastic waste in the world’s oceans, especially in the mid Pacific, is considered by many environmentalists to be one of the most severe problems the global environment faces today. Plastic is regularly ingested by animals, birds and fish and can be fatal. It also does not decompose.

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