Saturday, August 11, 2007


Location:Vigeland Sculpture Park

Sunday night I arrive in Oslo, a flight to Torp, and a bus from Torp to Oslo which takes longer than the flight itself. And I get a text from Aisha, "its going to be sunny tomorrow, rain the rest of the week - suggest you go to Vigeland". I look at my freshly bought map, Vigeland is about 10 minutes from my hotel i guess. Sounds like a plan.

I wander round, looking forward to the Sculpture Park, ignorant of what Vigeland is - an area of Oslo? That would be me guess. Instead, Vigeland was a Norwegian artist - born April 11, 1869 – died March 12, 1943. Oslo is full of his work, as you explore the city, there is a good chance of stumbling upon one of his many pieces. But it is no surprise that the Sculpture Park and Vigeland Museum are Oslo's top tourist attraction.

The sprawling park is full of sun bathers, this Monday lunch time, people just taking it easy. As I work my way to the centre of the park, I start to get my first impression of just what I am getting into. Through the park there is a river, over the river is a bridge, every couple of feet along the structure of the bridge is a statue by Vigeland - mostly a naked figure or two, men and women, serious and gleeful, angry children, laughing adults. Across the bridge the park opens up, flower beds, leading to a large fountain. Four giants hold the fountain's bowl on their backs, water flowing across their naked bodies. Again every couple of feet round the edge of the fountain we have statues by Vigeland. This time each is a tree, with naked figure amongst the branches, lovers, the dying, children playing.

Stairs lead upwards. Squares of grass, lined with benches, some more subtle fountains, and wrought iron gates depicting men and women. Once you get to the top, you come to the master piece. The colossal monolith. A finger that reaches for the sky, dozens of bodies, layered together, crawling, climbing, men, women, young and old. A strange and impressive piece, surrounded by circles of stairs, and in sets equidistant round the centre piece more of his statues, groups interacting. From the metal of the bridge statues to the stone of the monolith, we have the sum of Vigeland's work, the emotion and strength of his figures.

I loved it. I spend a good number of hours in the park. Taking pictures. Studying the sculptures. At times just sitting on a bench, reading, enjoying the sunshine, and the constant bustle of people. Before having a particularly late lunch in one of the handful of cafes within the park.

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