WE – ME by Julia Vance

DSCN1829 VanceI was so pleased to attend the unveiling of artist Julia Vance’s sculptural installation WE – ME in front of the Oslo Sentralstasjon/Central train station the other day. The journey of the sculpture which was made and exhibited in Italy, has been much slower than anticipated since it was stuck in Customs because it did not match their official description of a sculpture. To my astonishment, I read in the Norwegian National newspaper Aftenposten, how art – especially sculpture – is defined by Customs. Their description is both antique and extremely vague; A sculpture must be made by the artist, and not by any other craftsman nor assistants. It must be carved, cast or molded hence not welded. If the sculpture does not comply the artist will need to pay a full VAT to import it into Norway. The outrage and numerous comments have been entertaining to read, and packed with suggestions, plus full listings of famous sculptures that do not fill their definition, see: Public Commission stuck in customs/Offentlig-bestillingsverk-star-fast-i-tollen. The amount of press coverage probably made it unavoidable for Customs not to release the sculpture to Julia Vance just in time for her scheduled unveiling, without paying VAT and an import fee, but for unneccesary storage while it was “evaluated”. An expense that really should be refundable, in my opinion.

DSCN1831 VanceJulia Vance was one of fourteen artists that applied to take part in an art project run by Oslo Council to temporarily show art in prominent places scattered around the city. The square outside the central train station is where the sculpture WE – ME will be until Christmas. At the unveiling she talked about the concept behind the sculpture, how easy it is to turn the word “me” upside down to make “we”, just as easily as one individual can join a group and become part of a “we”. There is a big wheel on the side of the sculpture, making it into an installation, that can be turned so that the word and the meaning is changed. The wheels will only open for use every Thursday from 16.00 to 17.00 until Christmas, otherwise closed, since they are heavy to turn, and ever so tempting for children and adults alike to test out.

DSCN1031I found this captivating description of Julia Vance in the introduction to her catalogue by John B. Hightower, Former Executive Director, New York State Council on the Arts, Former Director, Museum of Modern Art, New York City: “The skill and touch of the sculptor can transform any number of materials into awakening shapes and forms that lure light and shadow across varied surfaces. JuliaVance’s sculpture adds another distinctive flair by transforming traditional calligraphy, normally considered a two dimensional presentation of letter shapes, into blocks and forms more familiar to Isamu Noguchi and Jean Arp. Her sculptural fascination with calligraphy is the result of a decade and more of perfecting this exquisite ancient art form on surfaces of paper, wood and glass.” Read the continuation and see more of her work on her website: Julia Vance.

DSCN1039The bottom two photos are taken by my husband. Here is another informative and enjoyable article from Aftenposten, on Customs’ definition of art with the headline: “Customs: This is not Art”; Aftenposten.


Munch 150

The most comprehensive presentation of Edvard Munch’s art ever displayed is currently on at the National Gallery in Oslo, covering the years 1882-1903, and at the Munch Museum, covering the years 1904-1944. Edvard Munch was artistically active for more than 60 years from his debut in the early 1880s until his death in 1944 and this exhibition illustrates the scope of it. “In his day he elicited anger and admiration for his unorthodox style of painting. His continual experimentation arouses interest even today. The enormous scope of the exhibition has been made possible through cooperation between the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design and the Munch Museum. The works on display have been selected from the museums’ own collections and supplemented by generous loans from public and private institutions in Norway and abroad.” In addition Edvard Munch’s monumental paintings can be experienced in the University of Oslo Aula – including The Sun (see below) and in the Dining Hall (read: employee cafeteria) at Freia Chocolate Factory and his studio at Ekely. They are open at weekends during the exhibition period: 2. June – 13. October. The exhibition is inspiring and haunting at the same time. Munch depicts the creative and destructive powers of love to an astonishing depth of raw emotion. An exhibition not to be missed if you are in Oslo. Enjoy his paintings (see press) at: munch150


Inside The Thief

We have a surprise for you, Siri of the Thief wrote as a comment on my blogpost – the-thief-in-oslo – on the fabulous hotel and indeed, it was! I went along, with husband in tow, to receive what I believed to be a goodie bag with their carefully selected toiletries. You can imagine my surprise, when I was invited to stay for a night and asked to select a suitable date. Well, how about our 10th wedding anniversary? So here I am, inside The Thief – thethief – and this is my report!

One of the hotel’s most popular art pieces is the world’s first knitting clock by Siren Elise Wilhelmsen. The Grandfather Clock usually stands in the Library and knits a mesh in half an hour, creating a long scarf, before the ball of wool is changed after several months. The clock is not interactive in any way, but a lot of guests seem to think so, hence it is away for repairs at the moment. How could I have missed it, I thought to myself after reading about it on The Thief’s website? The answer is I did not, and need to come back to see it. Read more about it and the artist at: thethief.

The rooms have a luxurious feeling, with oak floors, leather covered wardrobes that light up when you open them, a drawer stuffed with in-room shopping, Norwegian wool rugs, art books on artists represented at the hotel, large television with installation art, a balcony with views of the fjord and a bathroom to die for. Its rainforest shower is the closest I have ever come to a rainforest (read: yes, I want one at home). For the computer addict is has a desk with a B&B leather office chair as well as free wireless internet access, and for the knitting addict equally fundamental; two comfortable armchairs designed by Antonio Citterio as well as a generous divine bed with proper reading lights. The bed had a total of 9 cushions but still offered another in the wardrobe incase “you are feeling extravagant”. I can also confirm that I have tested the toiletries from Ila, Beyond Organic and wholeheartedly approve of their choice, see: ila-spa! The Thief has designed their own gorgeous wool blankets from Røros Tweed – acknowledged for their design – as well as robe and wool slippers. All found to be extremely comfortable!

Breakfast at the restaurant Fru K/Mrs K, named after the Kitchen Chef, was a proper treat with homemade juices, crisp bread, selections of yoghurts and fruits as well as the more filling egg and bacon dishes, cold cuts just to mention a small selection of the food on offer. Sitting in divine armchairs, having my breakfast and then reading the newspaper, was an excellent start for the day! See: fru-k.

The Roof Terrace is the place to be to sip cocktails, chat and knit – obviously – except on our selected date the weather did not permit it. But with a view of the Astrup Fearnley Museum (see above), the fjord and the wharf I would need to come back on a sunny and warm day to enjoy it fully. The Spa is under construction, and I am more than happy to review it when it is finished! Thank you, The Thief!