Tartarugas e o cheiro do plástico
9 de Março de 2020.
Chove ferro num planeta longínquo
11 de Março de 2020.
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A monument to Iceland’s working women

Vatnsberinn [‘The Water Carrier’] is a modernist statue located in downtown Reykjavík. It is the work of Ásmundur Sveinsson, completed during winter 1936-1937 while the artist was a resident in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Ásmundur (1893-1982) was a pioneering sculptor from Kolsstaðir, in the west of Iceland. His workshop and house form part of the Reykjavík Art Museum today.

The monument is an ode to Ásmundur’s childhood in rural Iceland, where he witnessed the women there carrying large pales of water to their homes day in, day out.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Iceland was an almost entirely rural country, only just witnessing the beginnings of urban and industrial development.

In the first half of the twentieth century, these changes accelerated, with technology transforming Icelanders’ relationship to the land around them. Ásmundur succeeded in capturing a way of life that had all but disappeared by the end of his life. 

The density of metal used in the statue evokes the arduous and back-breaking work which past generations of women carried out in order to provide basic amenities, such as water, to their families.

While the Vatnsberinn monument is ostensibly dedicated to the Icelandic people, it was also intended to represent Iceland’s mountainous landscape. The weight of the two water pales and the two legs of the carrier are equally balanced, giving the form a sense of symmetry and gravity.

Its pyramidic shape projects the same feeling of stability and immovability provided by the Icelandic mountains, ever-present in the landscape.

An unusual and poignant work of art, Vatnsberinn stands as a tribute to past generations and the labour which was required to co-exist with the natural environment. Its location in the urban heart of Reykjavík makes the changes of the past century all the more starkly apparent.

The text was written in December 2019.
Short bio of the volunteer:

My name is Hrafnkatla, usually known as Katla. I’m originally from Iceland but have also lived in Scotland. 



Erasmus+ is a program of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth, and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the program acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.

Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.

In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3 (KA3) which is for the support of reformation policies.

European Voluntary Service

Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.

We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.

Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.