|Saturday, 8 March 2003|
Gustav Viegeland Park - : A journey through life
by Ravindra Seneviratne
You have to squeeze through a narrow entrance to enter Oslo's most interesting Park. The sculptor Gustav Viegeland dedicated this park to life, and he deliberately made the entrance narrow.
"You come into the world through a narrow opening," he used to say.
For thirty-two years Viegeland and an army of sculptors chiselled these fantastic works out of granite from the nearby mountains.
From the crying child to the burdened man. To the caring woman and the nuclear family, Viegeland dealt with different aspects of life.
A walk through the park takes you through the various stages of life. From birth to death. From one generation to another.
The centre of the park is dominated by a 46 foot high monolith carved from a single block of Granite and has 121 upward striving figures.
Surrounding the monolith are groups, men and women together in different stages of their life. Almost all are nudes with the elderly in particular lovingly and chastely depicted.
He was ahead of his time in depicting men as caring individuals bucking even the traditional Norwegian mythical figures of men who are often seen as divine warriors or Vikings plundering neighbouring lands. He had men carrying children or cradling them along with women.
Today modern Norwegian men do care for their offspring and are entitled to take 3 months paternity leave after a baby is born. Institutionalized parenting that has emphasized the role that both mother and father have to play in the upbringing of a child.
Viegeland was a skilled carver himself, but did not actually chisel any of these figures. He modeled them in clay in full size and had artisans and other sculptors carve the figures.
In all there are 212 sculptures. Some are drawn from the struggle of life. The entrance is dominated by a female figure struggling with a dragon that rests deep in the lakes. This symbolizes the constant struggle that life is and pays tribute to womankind.
There is also a difference between some of the early carvings and the later ones.
At first the figures have heavier outlines and preserve the shape of the granite blocks. As you progress down the park the figures become softer and there is more space between the figures.
These pictures taken in the winter create a different feel for the sculptures. The layers of snow soften some of the hard lines and sets off the Grey granite against the white of the Snow.
Laid out in a 850 meter long axis, the park can be done at a slow pace, taking time to ponder on the various stages of human life and reflect how, as time goes, we take on different roles in society and how our perspective on life itself changes.
Produced by Lake House