President Gudni Th. Jóhannesson encountered a familiar face on his latest visit to East Iceland: his own. RÚV reports that during a tour of the arboretum in the Hallormsstaður National Forest, the president and First Lady Eliza Reid were not only shown some of the forest’s oldest and most majestic tree specimens, but also a partially completed bust of the president himself.
The bust was carved from a tree stump by the Norwegian chainsaw artist Arna Askeland. The story goes that Arna was at the arboretum on the day the president was elected—June 25, 2016—and decided to create a bust of Guðni when it appeared certain that he would be Iceland’s next president. Unfortunately, he ran out of time before completing the bust and told the forest rangers that he’d need two additional hours to finish it.
Two years later, the bust has still not been finished and mushrooms have sprouted on it, but it has remained in the care of the Hallormsstaður forest rangers. And for his part, the president seemed quite pleased with the bust, finished or not. “Time passes and the years progress and so will be the fate of they who hold the presidency,” he remarked. “There are busts of former presidents at Bassastaðir [the presidential residency]. As it stands, there’s no need to rush into anything: here’s mine done.”