Florence Smells like Flowers

We need to talk about Florence. It is known as the city of flowers, but I never imagined that it would actually smell like them too. But, as I sat at the second floor of a hop on, hop off bus, I struggled to hide my heavy breathing, scared that someone would mistake my attempt to take in all the scents of having trouble with my lungs. It would really be too bad if they had shipped me to the hospital, although judging by the rest of the city, it might just have turned out to be the most beautiful hospital I’ve ever been to.

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Beauty

I like to believe that I’m somewhat interested in art. Somewhat. I did successfully spend hours at the national gallery in Oslo, Norway, and I do like to draw. However, when I was faced with Florence all I could do was to admit that art is fine for a little while, but eventually my mind will wander to places I have long forgotten by now. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a great painting just as much as the next person would, but visiting the galleries in  Florence, I got this feeling that most of the works went way over my head.

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The only one I recognized was The Birth of Venus…

In addition many of them were surprisingly, at least to me, violent and macabre, and it honestly doesn’t take much before I’ve had enough of that. Perhaps I’m just not sophisticated (or hipster) enough to really appreciate the Renaissance artists. I’m more into other types of art – dance, drama, and, if paintings are to be involved, I believe I prefer the Romanticism (think landscapes).

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I stumbled upon a rehersal for an opra, which made me realize that I really want to attend one.

Florence is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to. It’s preserved so well that, when looking at it, it seems from another time. As many of the settlements are indeed ancient, this makes sense. The sidewalks are made for one person (forever alone), and there are palaces, cathedrals and gardens popping up everywhere. When I say the latter I mean the kind of gardens that have been around since the 16th century and that you can get lost in if you’re not careful.

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The palace at the beginning of the gardens was once home to the Medicis- an insanely rich family from the 14th to the 17th century.

What makes all of this even more amazing is that the city still seems oddly up to date. It has somehow managed to incorporate new structures and modern opinions with its heritage-listed buildings and timeless art. Truly a city worth spending time in.

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Angry Boy

I seem to have a thing for people made of stone these days. First it was just a random interest I took in the statues of Trondheim, then I actively searched out the Women of Stone here in Oslo. And what do you know, next I decide to take it further – to Angry Boy.

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The Vigeland Park

The Vigeland Park is the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Norway (either people really like art, or they just like that it’s open all year round and has free entrance). The park has over 200 statues, but I’m there to see just one.

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Angry Boy, “Sinnataggen” in norwegian. The most famous statue in the park.

It’s amazing what this little boy has been through. He has been subjected to vandalism and stolen, yet he’s still standing. He’s still angry with the world for the place it has become. Or perhaps he just didn’t get that toy he wanted.

P.S. If you see a statue, it is worth taking a closer look at. It can tell you a lot about a city. For example it’s: history, art preference, and even a little bit about the inhabitants based on who they have chosen to remember. Happy People of Stone searching!

Art is for everyone

I don’t know much about art. I remember a little from school about different periods, artists and such, but give me a random painting and I’ve got nothing. I’ll tell you if it’s soothing, dramatic, if it’s cold or warm – but it will be based of my feelings. It is probably because of this I tend to prefere the national romantic period, where the paintings are more straight forward.

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This is probably a famous painting, but it has no significance to me. I’m glad art is as personal as it is, there’s something for everyone, and now that I’m not in school anymore, I can choose what art is for me.

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These I know for a fact are famous; I remember them from class. I have analyzed them and given them more thought then I wanted to. I wonder what my teacher would have said if she had seen me at the National Gallery, alone, of my own accord. I’m not sure if she, or a younger version of me, would have been most surprised.

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This one on the other hand reminds me of a place I know. It is incredibly detailed and looks like a photo from afar.

I stood looking at the painting above when one of the elderly, definitely upperclass, women from the group that was guided around at the same time that I visited, came over and asked me about it. She was facinated that I took such an interest in what seems to be such an ordinary painting, and that I, the youngest by far of everyone there, was still around after two hours.

Art is for everyone, and in my opinion one doesn’t have to know a lot about the technical specifications to want to enjoy it. Therefore, the next time you consider a gallery, but figure you aren’t really “the type”, do it anyway! Perhaps you’ll enjoy it more than you think, I know I did.

Women of Stone

It wasn’t until I passed a woman I realized, I passed the first woman. Since I photographed statues in Trondheim  last week, I’ve paid more attention to my stony friends. However, I never noticed I only saw male figures, not before I actually saw a female. How could that be? Surely there must be more than one statue of a woman. Determind to prove myself right I started my second wandering of Oslo city this week.

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Wenche foss – famous actress in the post war period, ww2

I came to a small park. It was filled with naked people. Of stone, I might add. They were all women, or women with children. It’s small parks like this that give cities their character, however, I wanted the female statues that were made because of achivement or significance – like the men of stone. I continued my search.

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There was no inscription on any of the statues in this park.

Next, along Akers Wharf I found two more women of stone, but both without inscription, both not because of a specific person. They were there to create an atmosphere, again not what I was looking for.

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I was beginning to wonder if the one I found first was the only one of a specific woman. Thankfully, just as I felt disappointed in earlier generations of norwegians, I found them. The Royals of Stone. Two specific women that have meant a lot to this country. In addition, not far from them I found Camilla Collette, the well-known norwegian feminist author.

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To the left is queen Maud (queen from 1905-1938), and to the right is crown princess Märtha (1929-1954), she was awarded several medals, one of them being for effort during ww2.

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At the back of Camilla Collette’s statue it’s written: “Reist af kvinder” which means “Raised by women”. 

P.S. I hope you all had a great International Women’s day yesterday!

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A stranger came up to me on the street yesterday and wished me “happy Women’s day!” He gave me this rose. I smiled and said it back to him. Slightly puzzled he walked away.
Later on my search for Women of Stone I saw members of the norwegian Red Cross handing out roses on the town square – to both men and women. Yesterday celebrated equality, so if you’re a man and were offered a rose, I hope you dared to accept it. 

Men of Stone

Good morning/evening/night everyone! Greetings from Trondheim, Norway. I’ve left Bergen, and am enjoying exploring a new city. I spent yesterday walking around. At first with no destination in mind, but then I noticed what I never really care about in my own city – the men of stone.

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In the middle of the market square there’s a man. He sees everything and everyone, and yet, most people just walk him by, never taking a second look. I wonder if they would have if they had known this man was once the King of Norway. That he, that man towering up there, helped build this country.

Down by the harbor I find another, “The last Viking”. Tall and proud he watches me approach. He is the symbol of all the men that went out to sea, women and children left behind. This man is not one man, but a thousand.

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Some of those men never made it back. Especially during the Second World War many left and few returned. “Many ships and sailors never arrived in port”.

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Another Man of Stone looks out to the sea. “He led the way”. It turns out it was a fairly long way too, all the way to America in the year 1000. His name is Leiv Eriksson, and he is an important symbol of ethinc pride for Americans of Nordic heritage.

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I walked down street after street, and the men of stone are many! In the end I figured I couldn’t photograph them all. However, I found this last man, one I know little about, but I just loved his attitude. Some of them obviously knew their own importance!

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