Personal Journeys

PERSONAL JOURNEYS

February 01, 2004|By Special to the Sun

A Memorable Place

Pondering life amid Oslo sculptures

By Marge Stickevers

SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Of all the sights I saw in Scandinavia, the Monolith at Gustav Vigeland's Sculpture Park in Oslo, Norway, most intrigued me.

From a single block of granite more than 46 feet high, human figures rise in a spiral. It took three stone carvers from 1929 to 1943, working daily, to finish the sculpture, just before Vigeland, the artist who designed it, died. The Monolith is the culmination of monuments that Vigeland created and dedicated to the life cycle of man.

Vigeland negotiated an agreement with Oslo to display his work, which he donated to the city. As a result, today Vigeland Park comprises 80 acres with 192 sculptures and a museum.

The park's main entrance consists of five large gates with exotic designs of human figures and lizards. From the entrance, paths lead to a bridge surrounded by granite groups of humans and reptiles. Figures in repose alternate with energetic figures. It is vitality that is depicted.

Throughout the park, the life cycle of man weaves its story. Beyond the bridge, the path continues through a rose garden to a fountain. In the center, six giants hold a vessel aloft. The giants, representing different ages, toil with the burden of life.

Themes of childhood, adolescence, adulthood, old age and death are repeated in the 60 bronze statues on the parapet beneath. The transition from death to new life is shown.

From the fountain, the path continues upward to the Monolith, reached by stairs. The figures on the column depict the quest, the trials and errors, the frailties and triumphs, and the final demise of mankind. Vigeland, the son of a carpenter, wanted the Monolith to raise questions. Did it represent man's yearning for spirituality, the transcendence of everyday living, or cyclic repetition?

Vigeland Park left its mark on me. The mortality of man is a universal theme, which makes the place a theme park of the highest order.

Marge Stickevers lives in Berlin, Md.

My Best Shot

Barbara J. Park, Joppa

The wonder of trains

My husband and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary in Bucks County, Pa., with a ride on the New Hope & Ivyland Rail Road. Steam engines evoke nostalgia in adults, but children, who have seen such trains only in books, come alive with wonder. The conductor on our excursion was busy getting passengers off and readying for the next trip, but he was not too busy to speak to an excited child whose question he answered by replying, "Sure you can, son!"

Readers Recommend

Kailua Beach, Hawaii

Annie Durose, Baltimore

My boyfriend, son and I took our annual vacation to Oahu and ventured over to Kailua Beach. We have been visiting Oahu yearly since 1994, but this was the first time we went swimming at Kailua. It was quiet and serene. The sand was like sifted flour, and we had the beach all to ourselves. Talk about paradise.

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Neil S. Gittings, Baltimore

On a recent autumn visit to Brooklyn Bridge Park, in Brooklyn, I noticed this view of the Manhattan Bridge through a window in an abandoned warehouse that is part of the park. The area also affords visitors spectacular views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline.

Let Us Hear From You

We want to know about your travels, your experiences, your pictures. Here's how to participate in this page:

* My Best Shot -- Send us a terrific travel photo with a description of when and where you took it. (Cash value: $50.)

* A Memorable Place -- In 500 words or less, tell us about a travel experience that changed you, about the nostalgia a certain place evokes, about the power of a favorite beach, the mountains, a city cafe. (Cash value: $150.)

* Readers Recommend -- Briefly tell us about places you've recently visited that you'd recommend to other readers. (50 words or less; photos are welcome.)

Because of the volume of responses, photos and manuscripts cannot be individually acknowledged or returned. Submissions from all categories may be used for Readers Recommend, and upon submission become the property of The Sun.

Send by fax to 410-783-2519, or write to: Travel Department, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278, or e-mail to Travel@baltsun.com. Be sure to include your name and phone number.

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