A Walk in Oslo 2008


My time here has been a blur of walking, exploring and absorbing: I find I am inspired to understand the Norway Gustav Frederik Moller and Emma Lorentzen knew...the one they left. And so, I have gone looking for things they might have seen in Old Oslo (Christiana), that is, the area of the city, near the Akershus Fortress, just east of the main harbour.


Overlooking the harbour is a row of very old trees that I found very touching. They seemed to be sentinels of a sort, perched over the harbour so as to bear witness to all the partings, separations, leavings. I couldn't resist talking to them, laying my hand on their trunks.


My first adventure was to Bygd√ły Peninsula to visit the University of Oslo's Viking Ship Museum. Though I could have gone by bus, I opted for the ferry and as we were pulling away from the dock, I was stuck by the sense that this may be the same view my migrating ancestors' had of their homeland - minus the skyscrapers and waterfront shopping centres. Still, the surrounding landscape has probably not changed all that much - certainly, the distant mountains and lay of the land are the same. Imagining their pulling away from Christiana harbour - with a long, arduous journey and brand new land ahead made my heart pound. I tried to imagine: were they filled with excitement, sadness, anticipation, sorrow, hope?


In the Historisk Museum, I discovered and was inspired by the extraordinary artistry of my Norwegian ancestors. Among the works was an amazing collection of medieval church doors - more animist than Christian it would seem. They feature highly stylised Norse/Celtic carvings - some in high relief that are amongst the most beautiful (and fanciful) I've ever seen. It made me proud to think that such highly evolved design skills and sensibilities are part of my heritage (whether or not I ever live up to the standard set by these ancient artisans).


At the threshold between rooms, I walked across a mosaic and stepped into my Norse-Viking heritage.