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The glass stained window by artist Gerður Helgadóttir

Gerður Helgadóttir (1928-1975), an artist, designed the windows of Skálholt Cathedral, but she won first prize in a competition for stained glass windows in the new church, Gerður was just about thirty. The German glass art workshop Oidtmann worked on the 25 windows.


The windows are in an abstract style and all have a specific meaning based on a deeply thought-out system of church symbols and numbers, but Gerður relied on the church's symbolism, its content and purpose when designing the windows. The windows can be divided into two categories, ecclesiastical and religious, where the symbolism of numbers and form speaks for itself. The ecclesiastical windows are connected to various bishops of Skálholt, such as Ísleif Gissurarson (1056-1080), the first bishop in Skálholt, his son, Gissur Ísleifsson (1082-1118), Klæng Þorsteinsson (1152-1175), who built a church on the site, and Pál Jónsson (1195- 1211). Two windows are dedicated to Saint Þorlák, Bishop Þórhallsson (1178-1193).

In 2019, Skálholtsfélagið published a booklet about Gerðar Helgadottir's Picture Window with explanations by Karl Sigurbjörnsson. There you can read a little about the explanations of the visuals of the individual windows, which are based on the artist's own explanations. The booklet is for sale in Skálholtskirkja and the income from it goes to the protection of Skálholtskirkja.

Gerður Helgadóttir was born in Tröllanes in Norðfjörður, but moved to Reykjavík with her parents at the age of nine. Gerður began studying at Iceland's Art and Handicraft School where she learned the basics of drawing, but at the same time she started modeling in clay and later carving in stone in Laugarnes in Reykjavík. She settled in Paris, where she set up a studio in the city's artist district. She had a very successful career as an artist and left behind many works of art, all of which leave a strong impression on the buildings they adorn. In addition to the windows in Skálholt, we can mention the stained-glass windows of Hallgrímskirkja in Saurbær and Kópavogskirkja, a mosaic in the Tollstationhúsin at Tryggvagáta in Reykjavík, and bronze pictures in Landsbankin, Hafnarfjörður and in the Mentskólið at Hamrahlíð. Gerður took part in over 50 exhibitions in his only 30-year art career and held 15 solo exhibitions around the world. Gerður died in 1975 at only 47 years old.

Elín Pálmadóttir wrote Gerður's biography, which was published in 1985 under the title Gerður: The Sculptor's Biography. You can also read more about Gerði Helgadóttir in the publication "Women of the Spirit" published by the Árnesing Art Gallery in 2009.

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The repair of the glass stained windows of Gerður Helgadóttir in 2018

Repairs began on Gerðar Helgadóttir's windows in the fall of 2018, but then it was clear that the windows were in bad shape and were under damage.

The representatives of the Oidtmann company in Germany took care of the repairs, but all the windows of the church were repaired. Industrialists stayed in Skálholt for several weeks repairing the windows, which are considered priceless national treasures. In addition to repairing the art windows, protective glass was replaced and the window openings repaired. When the repair of the windows was finished, the cracks in Nína Tryggvadóttir's mosaic altarpiece were repaired.

The project was primarily financed by financial contributions from companies and individuals and with a grant from the House Improvement Fund. The sponsor of the project was the Conservation Fund of Skálholt Cathedral, which was established in 2016. The conservation fund has faithfully supported and supported various projects related to Skálholt Church, most recently new lighting in the church and a new church bell to replace the one that was broken in the summer of 2020. The next project of the Conservation Fund is to support a book barn that has been will be up in the basement of Skálholtstaðar's Guest House.

You can contribute to the fund by making a deposit. The protection fund has ID. 451016-1210, and account number 0152 -15- 380808.

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