Street Artist Guido van Helten paints a ship in Akureyri, Iceland

In August 2015, film director Selina Miles travelled with artist Guido van Helten to Akureyri, a town on the north coast of Iceland, to produce a very unique piece of work.

Australian artist, Guido, known for his hyperealistic portraits, travelled to Akureyri to paint one of his portraits onto the side of a working boat, facilitated by the Akureyri Cultural Office.

Guido had wanted to paint a ship for a long time and the ship he paints ‘SÆFFARI’ travels to the small island of Grímsey. It is the only ship that goes there on a regular basis as it transports their produce back to the mainland. As a result, Guido only had two days to complete the painting and worked long hours, starting at 6am and finishing by 10pm with the help of flood lighting.

Guido painted a lady on the side of the ship, wrapped up in a traditional wool jumper, to protect her from the cold Icelandic air. He tried to find something that suited the mood of the sea and the surroundings. The person is unknown and not famous, but the photo touched him in some way that he felt was the right image for the boat.

“It’s speaks to me based on some feeling or based on the photograph or based on some emotion I see in that person …I learn to love it myself and it comes through the work”. Guido Van Helten

“I have been working with portrait for a couple of years. Always a thing .. Who and why this person … I am trying to create a sense of identify that relates to the people who live here . People always gravitate to well-known people… But I’m not trying to capture that. People can relate to it in their own way” Guido Van Helten

And the Icelandic locals have related to the painting in their own way. People make their own story up and that’s the beauty of the piece. As the boat owner says; “every boat tells a story”. One person sees an Icelandic Mother who has lost her son to the sea and is looking down searching for him, another sees a guiding Angel protecting the ship and the people as it travels through the heavy seas.

The 6-minute film, directed, shot and edited by Selina Miles, documents their journey, and offers insight into the unique personality of one of Australia’s most sought after street artists.


This project was a self-initiated collaboration between Selina Miles and Guido van Helten, who both sought to use their respective practices to delve deeper into the wonderful and unique culture of Iceland. Music by Julien Marchal



Calling all Street Art fans

If you are holding a street art festival please get in touch with us as Graffitistreet would love to cover your event and share it with our readers.

Street artists, please drop us a line to share your latest murals and the inspiration behind them; GraffitiStreet want to know about the thoughts and ideas that breathe life into your pieces!

Or, if you are a lover of all things street art and would like to write a guest Blog post for GraffitiStreet, get in contact too! We would love to hear from you and what you have got to say.

All words and photos used must be the author’s own or the author has gained permission from the source and clearly credits the source blog. Author takes full responsibility for copyright.

Share your comments