Icelandic artist and student Ýrúrarí loves knitting, and that’s what she does to cope with quarantine while also pursuing her Master’s degree. Mouths! Need more mouths!
“All of a sudden, my Master’s classes became remote. It was hard to stay focused to begin with, and I also had been working on a show for Design March in Reykjavík but it got delayed,” Ýrúrarí told.
However, while searching for her zen, the artist watched more TV, trying new knitting projects. Thus, the decorative masks were born. “I guess this new wearable necessity inspired me. But now Iceland is recovering very well and it looks like everyday life might get a bit more normal in the summer, just without all the tourists, so all the Icelanders are stuck on the island together.”
Each mask takes Ýrúrarí hours of hard work, and even though the artist got some help from her knitting machine, she made most of the elements by hand. “There’s more sculpturing you can do with your hands.” It was also a way for her to transform her former sweater designs.
“I was definitely not expecting the masks to become such a hit or that I would connect so well with the facemask form,” Ýrúrarí said. “But it makes sense, I do work with knitting pieces that dismantle or change the body. I don’t know why I never thought of knitting something for the face before!”
A few internet commenters pointed out that these masks won’t protect anyone from COVID-19, however, that wasn’t the artist’s intention in the first place. Ýrúrarí said the masks are decorative rather than practical. She was simply trying to spread some joy while coping with the pandemic on a personal level.
Her work is meant to be humorous. The humble artist said she’s a bit too shy to be on stage so she tells jokes through her knitting, adding that she doesn’t think she could ever say anything “super wise”, but she might knit something that makes people smile.
And her unusual masks are already making a name for themselves. There’s a group of people in London who are trying to influence others to wear masks and they’ve been using images of Ýrúrarí’s work to get everyone’s attention. Also, several of her pieces have been showcased by Artists4Masks, a British initiative raising funds for personal protective equipment for medical staff and normalization of the use of face masks.
Ýrúrarí isn’t knitting just face masks, she’s creating everything from sweaters to abstract and complex mathematical textiles