Saturday, 31 October 2015

200+ statues

Before going into Italy, there is something I’ve been meaning to post about since the September weekend I spent with my children in Oslo (more about that here). I’m afraid I can’t help myself but must ‘air’ a little story on the extraordinary sight we walked to see in the vast Frogner Park northwest of the city centre.

This is the Vigeland Sculpture Arrangement, also called the Vigeland park, the largest sculpture park in the world with works designed by a single artist, that is the Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943). The arrangement depicting different aspects of human life from childhood to old age stretches 850m.

When you enter the park through the main gates a boulevard will open up...

taking you across a sculpture-decorated bridge...

to a square with a fountain surrounded by a rose garden...

and further up to the so-called Monolith plateau with an obelisk-like sculpture in the middle. 

The installation includes a total of 212 works in stone, bronze and cast iron. Vigeland devoted the last two decades of his life to this project. He personally modelled each sculpture in full size in clay supervising the carving and casting done by professional craftsmen.

He also designed the architectural layout of the whole Frogner Park. His studio and home were in the southern corner of the park in a building the city of Oslo provided for him in exchange of his leaving his sculptures to the state. The building now houses the Vigeland Museum.

It is a puzzling experience to walk in the middle of the sculpture arrangement: past the cheerful bronze figures on the bridge, around the fanciful fountain up to the intriguing Monolith platform. I must admit I couldn’t quite figure out the symbolism behind the piles of babies nor that of the Monolith portraying 121 human figures reaching towards the sky.

The Monolith is said to portray the human yearning for the spiritual and divine. I found it rather saddening, however, as my vision of the journey towards the possible afterlife is more bright. It is carved out of a single block of granite and measures more than 14 meters with an additional three meters of base. It took three professionals 13 years to carve the Monolith according to a plaster design cast from Vigeland’s model in clay.

Most of the sculpture arrangement was completed between 1939 and 1949. This fascinating place remains one of the most popular sights in Norway. Definitely worth a visit and amazing to look at any time of the year.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Looking good

Once again, I’ve been silent longer than I expected but I have a great excuse. We are having the kitchen completely redone. For several weeks now, we’ve been busy making all kinds of decisions and taking care of many a small issue not to mention that the kitchen was stripped to the bones already in mid-September.

What’s more, now that the removal and refurbishing project is nearing its end we finally terminated the travel ban hubby issued almost two years ago. While waiting for the paint on the hardwood flooring of the new kitchen to dry and harden we flew – unsurprisingly – to Italy.

Posts on this most memorable trip will hopefully follow soon but now I am showing you our neighbourhood. This is where we returned to last weekend. Even after Lombardia and Piemonte, not bad. The colourful riverfront is looking brilliant. On a sunny day like this, it is impossible not to love autumn that is visible everywhere.

The little Vähätori square feels empty. The restaurants and cafés have carried their outdoor tables and chairs away for the winter. For the next few months, the Main Library will be dominating the scene that is bristling with life during the summer season. The only bustle to be found will be inside the stately building.