Monuments to Men

The sunny days really pull people outside. The sun is seductive, drawing people out with its warmth. The green in Oslo becomes bright and irresistible. Even the birds get more excited.

When people in Oslo flock outside they inevitably pool into a park. Families bring barbecues and footballs, and unpack a picnic in a cool corner. Others venture out alone, languidly splayed on colourful towels, soaking up the sun in their bikini’s.

I poured in Vigelandsparken along with bus loads of other tourists. I am proud to say that I did not get lost once when cycling the 2.7km this way (even though I was using GoogleMaps). New achievement unlocked!

Frolicking in Vigelandsparken

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The Two Towers

Vigelandsparken hosts the largest collection of sculptures by one artists in a single park. Gustav Vigeland, the master mind behind not only the artworks but also the parks design, created the park between 1939 – 1949. He managed to curate a unique experience.

Never before have I seen such a celebration of family, life and love in the world of art before. After entering the Main Gate you get to The Bridge which is lines with 58 bronze statues on the left and right hand side.

I was completely awestruck and elated by not just the technique, but by the subject matter of the work. All the statues centred around family life: dads playing with daughters, children playing together, man and woman in embrace. It was incredibly beautiful. I had no idea statues could express so much love.

Further along I found The Fountain, a water feature framed by smaller statues. I refer to them as ‘The Broccoli People’, but I suspect the correct term is “tree groups”. I was delighted by the style, and I will never eat broccoli without thinking of these people frolicking in the water and swinging in trees.

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Afterwards I moved to the Monolith, a 14.12m high tower carved out of granite. The theme of love and fun extends all the way to the top of this monument. There are many theories about the meaning of this tall column, but I was too busy appreciating the sun and the art than to ponder its existence.

I did get a rather spectacular view from on top of a hill. As I looked over Oslo, I saw what resembled the Two Towers between the monolith and a church in the distance. My nerd side was tickled.

Even further up there was another statue, perched up on the hill alone. The Wheel of Life symbolises eternity, and all the bodies that form it are female. I just stood and appreciated it in silence, alongside forty yapping tourists.

The Stone Playground

As I returned home from my fun in the sun I followed the familiar track through the cemetery, which borders Henrik’s place. I find myself enjoying the route that cuts through the cemetery. This cemetery is different to any other I’ve seen before. It is not grim, sad and unkept. Rather, it looks like a celebration of life!

Large headstones are planted firmly in the ground, and red and pink flowers sprout out at their feet. The yard is neatly kept. The headstones are also not old and cracked. It makes me wonder about a maintenance team. The cemetery also houses a few famous figures. I got the see the grave of one Edward Munch, a famous Norwegian painter.

Henrik mentioned this place gets quite eerie in winter. The ground is frozen and the fog sets in, playing games with the light. I can only imagine. Somehow, I can see this cemetery as inspiration for a novel. Tall willows droop at some ends of the graveyard, which has topographical features and is not just flat. It extends over a large area, and even includes a little forest (or clump of trees). Who knows what lingers at night…

I am really impressed by the celebration of life in Oslo. At times the city can get grey and grim, even in summer. There is a streak of loneliness and anxiety in the air too. It is rejuvenating to be able to access these places where life is celebrated and you can indulge in the art, like a breath of fresh air, which tells you you are never alone.

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