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Vigelandsparken - The Vigeland Park
By Trish Smith
12 October 2010

I love parks within big cities – sprawling, lush, green parks with enormous shade trees, duck-filled ponds and sloping lawns the size of football fields. They are perfectly designed outdoor spaces for the residents who live in high-rise apartments with tiny balconies and hardly room for a potted plant. When the sun comes out these parks fill up with children and bicycles and dogs and families with picnic blankets. It’s the same the world round. Bangkok has Lumpini Park, Sydney has Hyde Park, New York has Central Park. And Oslo has Frognerparken.

Within Frognerparken is Vigelandsparken, 70-acres of gardens containing 212 sculptures by the sculptor, Gustav Vigeland. He carved all the sculptures from clay and they were then created in bronze and stone by craftsmen. Altogether there are 600 life-size human figures in these 212 sculptures, depicting humans at every stage of life. They are beautiful and thought-provoking and some are a little confronting.

When you enter the gates of Vigelandsparken you can see that you are at the start of a very long pathway that extends right into the park for as far as you can see (in fact, for 850 metres). The first statues are situated along The Bridge:

Then you come to The Fountain, with a huge bowl being held up by several strong men as water overflowed around them:

Next is The Monolith, with statues surrounding it, extending up the stairs. These were amazing sculptures. I couldn’t help but reach out and touch the smooth, cool stone, but feel a little as though I was invading on a very private, quiet moment between the figures. The Monolith itself was mesmerising, I could look at it for hours, discovering new things about it all the time.

Further along the central axis of the Park was The Sundial:

And finally, The Wheel of Life:

The sculptures and the area of parkland they occupy were all designed by Gustav Vigeland, and there is no other park in the world that has received the attention and creations of a single artist. The residents of Oslo use the park year round for exercise – even when the grass is covered in several feet of snow, they come here to cross-country ski, to ice-skate on the pond and enjoy a superb view of their city all blanketed in white. It really is quite magnificent.

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