14 September 2011

Inspiration in Norway

I have just got back from spending a weeks holiday with my family in Norway. Whilst we were there, we made a point of doing some touristy sightseeing in the Telemark region of Norway. Here are some of my pictures of things and places I saw that inspired me.

Pictures taken at the Norwegian Industrial Workers Museum, Rjukan.

The Norwegian Industrial Workers Museum
The first day of our holiday, we took a trip to the nearby town of Rjukan and visited one of its museums. The Norwegian Industrial Workers Museum at Vemork is best known for its presentation of Rjukan's exciting wartime history. Vemork was the centre of one of the most important acts of sabotage committed during World War II, when Norwegian saboteurs prevented the Germans from developing a nuclear bomb from the heavy water that was produced there.

The building itself had loads of little architectural details and decoration, such as a design with initials carved and repeated on the wall in the large hall. Even the iron railings had flourishes and swirls which is surprising to see in such a practical and industrial building.

Norwegian style crafted furniture and objects.

Stylised rose painted wooden bowls.

Norwegian Crafts
Whilst staying in the family cottage, I noticed that there were loads of hand painted and traditional pieces of furniture and bowls. They featured beautiful stylised floral motifs with similar shapes recurring.

Rose painting is a uniquely Norwegian decorative painting technique which uses roses of various shapes and sizes as the main pattern. In the rural areas the traditions of wood carving and rose painting continued well into the 19th century. Rose painting is now regarded as a classic Norwegian folk art.

An unusual pattern found on this wooden bowl. I don't know if this is from Norway
or picked up on someone's travels in the Middle East.

Porcelain objects on the left were in the cottage. The crockery set on the right was in the window
of an antique store. It features traditional patterns but the set looked like a fairly new reproduction.

Some embroidered and cross stitched cushions that caught my eye.
They were probably made by my grandmother or great grandmother.

Heddal Stave Church in Telemark, Norway
We visited the largest stave church in Norway called Heddal. It is still a living church for today's congregation in Notodden in Telemark. On the wall in the exterior passage, there are runes inscribed, telling that the church was dedicated to the holy Virgin Mary. Inside the church is a beautifully carved wooden chair from around 1200. The wall-painting is dated 1668. Underneath, on the west wall, there are remains of the original painting from about 1300.

Heddal Stave Church.

I have passed by this church many times over the years and I never get tired of looking at it. This was the first time that I got the chance to look inside.

Between 1100 and 1300 some 1,000 wooden stave churches were built in Norway. Today fewer than 30 remain. While archaeologists have found proof that stave churches were built all over northern Europe, they have only been preserved in southern Norway. It is the only country in Northern Europe with wooden churches from the Middle Ages still intact.

A reproduction stone carving and sketches that were in the nearby visitors centre.

The decoration of stave churches feature an intriguing combination of Christian designs intermixed with what is often assumed to be pre-Christian Viking motifs, such as the interwoven dragon motifs. The wooden doors and finials are beautifully carved.

Some pictures taken near the family cottage.
The fluffy plants grew near the lake's edge and remind me of cotton balls. 

What inspires you when you are out and about? Do you have any pictures that you would like to share with me on this blog? If so, I would love to hear from you.

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