Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Aarhus - Art and Architecture

Regular readers of this blog will know that I love the early morning and especially enjoy exploring new places at this clean, fresh, quiet time of day as a city slowly stirs itself from slumber and there are few people around. In Aarhus I was up early to do art walks of the city picking out  sculptures and buildings my mother had referred to in her book "It Was Better In Winter". Armed with a list, and keeping to my theme of travel with a purpose, I loved my solitary exploration of this pretty city.

The Pig, Ceres Fountain
Just around the corner from our hotel, in the park adjoining the City Hall, I found the first sculpture on my list, The Pig fountain. The mother pig with several piglets, is a humorous take on motherhood and much beloved by the locals.

Aarhus Clock Tower, City Hall

The adjacent City Hall, boasts the clock tower,  now used as the symbol of Aarhus.  Designed by Arne Jacobsen and Erik Moller in 1941, and with the clock unusually positioned at the bottom half of the tower,  it is internationally recognised as an outstanding example of Danish Modernism.  It is listed as an important structure in the Danish cultural canon.

There are numerous sculptures in the surrounding gardens, some classical and others quirky, such as the boy contemplating a swim in the reflecting pool and the strange monster cum helicopter (below)

With a population of just 260,000 Aarhus is spoilt for choice when it comes to the arts.  The city has its own symphony orchestra and is the home of Danish National Opera.  The modern concert hall, (1982) built since my parents time, boasts annual ticket sales of 700,000.

ARoS on the right and the Concert hall on the left

Later in the day I visited AroS, the spectacular modern art museum (1997),  crowned
by a stunning circular walkway called Your Rainbow. At 150 metres long, and with graduated, coloured glass panels, Your Rainbow  provides 360 degree views of Aarhus through, literally, rose coloured, and blue and orange and gold coloured glass.

Left and below: Views of Aarhus from Your Rainbow atop ARoS Art Museum, Aarhus

Right:  The spire in the distance is the Cathedral.  My parents lived very close by.

The interior of the museum is stark, white, bright and interesting.  A wide, gently curving, ramp leads from one floor to the next over 10 stories. The art museum contains 7000 works of art including many by Danish artists. I enjoyed discovering artists I had never heard of before and was completely intrigued by Boy the 4.5 metre high, 500kg sculpture by Australian artist, Ron Muecks.  Boy certainly draws the crowds and is so realistic it is hard to believe it is not a living, breathing boy.  I stood beside Boy for some time watching people's reactions on seeing it and enjoying the wonder in children's eyes.  It was a surreal experience. 

So far so delighted with Aarhus' art and architecture but I had one more thing to do this day and that was to visit the University of Aarhus where my father held a post as visiting professor for several months.  It was a long walk across town to the campus but thoroughly enjoyable, passing regular shops, cafes, art galleries, glass blowing galleries and a very quaint, uniquely Danish fire station.

Aarhus is a university city the university's 42,000 students amounting to 16% of the

Aarhus University
population.  The campus is lovely.  Built in the 1930s of golden brick it's many separate buildings are spaced out across rolling parkland.  It is a fine example of modern Danish design and is listed as one of the 12 most important architectural icons of Denmark.  It was a quiet Sunday afternoon when I visited with nobody around and all the buildings closed but I strolled for some time looking at the different faculties and wondering where my father worked. 

What a thoroughly satisfying day it had been!  Not only had I traced many of the places my parents visited, and my mother mentioned in her book, but I had discovered several new ones and, best of all, I had enjoyed every moment. 

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