Norway or Bust Blog
August 9, 2012
I decided to visit museums all day, I took the tram, to the train first stop was Munch Museum. Munch Museum was another beautiful stop it was next to the museum of Natrual History, Oslo University Zoological Museum, and the Oslo University Geological/Archeological museum. So I visited all three. The Munch exhibit was so intriguing, they had a very interesting documentary film about his life that I watched before I went into the exhibit. The film shed so much light on his life, ideas, and beliefs. It was sad and the work seem to validate his experience all these years after his death. He struggled with major depression and mental health issues most of his life. He died alone, bitter, and wealthy in the end.
The “Death of Marat”, for me was the most emotionally charged piece in the “Red Room” exhibit. The story eludes to Munch painting the piece at a friends house in Germany. It is said that Munch used the couple as models but was really recreating or even reenacting a situation of domestic abuse and violence with his lover Tulia Larsen. The painting depicts a situation where Munch was shot accidentally during a violent argument with Tulia. Their relationship ended bitterly after the accident and Munch blamed her for the whole situation. (of course not that uncommon in domestic violence where the man always blames the woman for violence that occurs). I think Munch’s work is so powerful that I have thought of it days later, looking at the images as they invoke new ideas and understanding within the artist and the viewer.
August 8, 2012
On this day I found my self at Vigeland Park, and an amazing park it is. It happens to be the worlds largest sculpture park and all Sculptures are done by Gustov Vigeland. Imagine having 45 acres to put your sculptures on without having to share with any other artist. Edvard Munch imagined it and he hated Vigeland for it. Munch only got a museum and he was dead when he got it. This park was the most wonderful park I have ever visited. I will never forget it and if I lived in Norway I would go there every week. While the sculptures were truly magnificent I found my self attracted to tourist and their photographs what they photographed, how and whom. For example see the following.
Well, it was kinda entertaining to photograph the photographers, but finally I thought these truly are magnificent sculptures so I joined in photographing the work.
Vigeland’s work seemed quite Freudian to me however, according to the literature the work is speaking to all humanity, love family, cooperation and human development. And so it does, regardless it is truly a unforgettable experience.
August 7, 2012
I spent this day recuperating from August 6. Dan had to give me a pep-talk I just wanted to go home. But the day passed and the next day I was up and ready to go!
August 6, 2012
August 6, couldn’t help being a stressful day, but I think it ended up being the worst day I have had in Norway so far. It was the day I was to return to Oslo from Horten and find my next Hostel, which happened to be in a very out-of-the-way place. Finding my back on the busses has been the big challenge for me because I have trouble figuring out the schedule, remembering the stops, and reading the language. More than that, I have a general fear that I will end up some where that I don’t want to be. That being said, I think getting through this day in the end was like surviving a storm and coming out of it realizing my owner inner strength was something to be proud of . So, the first obstacle I was facing was my luggage issue way too much luggage to climb hills and get on a bus to the city center, and then to get on another bus for Oslo. During my stay at the campground I met Rodger very nice man who offered to take me to the city center in the car. What a relief! I thought that getting to the center was my biggest obstacle to over come. Wrong…………… Still, sweet Rodger took me although he did seem concerned that my bus would not be stopping at the center. Foolishly I insisted that it would. So I sat at the bus station waiting for my bus with my load of heavy luggage, one hour passed, then two hours passed. It started to rain. I asked a lady of she knew of my bus and she said no. I started to worry. So I asked another bus driver about my bus he said,” no it doesn’t come here its up the road turn left” on some foreign street that I was going to have to figure out; and so on up the hill in the rain, dragging ten million pounds of luggage. There I am in the rain walking in circles and starting to get a major anxiety attack, when this young man passes by me carrying luggage so I follow him in hopes of finding my station. Sure enough he gets us there and the bus comes shortly after, and he lifts my heavy suitcase into the luggage area yea! I thought my problems were over and they were for about an hour.
Once I landed at the central station in Oslo I started the journey to my Hostel Ronningen. I went to information and asked for the route with the least amount of walking. Another mistake on my part because the route was so complicated that I ended up walking up hill after hill in the pouring rain dragging all of my luggage, which by this time I was contemplating if I really needed my luggage, after all there would be a washing machine at the hostel. I finally made it to another stop off the prescribed route and the strangest thing happened. I ask two young adults if they could help me figure out my bus situation and it was crazy but the girl was friends with Anna my tour guide at the Akershaus Fortress and Anna told her about me and gave her the link to my blog. So she knew me and she also knew one of the women at Juss Buss that I spent time with. She and her friend got me on my way to Ronningen, I couldn’t believe it again a small small world. Side note my stop was on the other side of the city from the fortress or Juss Buss. Amazing divine intervention just at the right time!
By the way below an image of my Hostel, almost worth the stress! It really is in a beautiful location. The staff is friendly and it is a clean place to stay with free internet.
August 5, 2012
Ah, but for the kindness of strangers. Ingunn and Ida Elisabeth
The day after the party I realized my time in Horten was coming to a close so I decided to take a trail behind my cabin that would eventually lead to Munch’s house. I was told that the walk would take around an hour and was a beautiful walk. Indeed it was but it was a very long walk 10 km which is approximately 6.2 miles 12 miles both ways. I am glad I didn’t know this before the walk or I probably would have never done it and miss out on meeting Ingunn and Ida Elisabeth. First mistake I made was wearing Teva sandals, rocks, sticks and sand were always in my shoe. Even still the trail was so beautiful I kept stopping to make photographs.
So the walk wore on and I had to remember my goal was to see Munch’s house. I started contemplating and wondering if there would be a bus I could take from Agardstand back to Horten. My feet were not happy by this point. Finally I reached Agardstrand and continued up a hill to find the Munch house and there it was so quant and story book like. I went in to pay to go in to find they did not accept American debit cards. The lady said, ” go down the road look for the store and there will be a mini bank. Reluctantly I left to find the mini bank but I ran into a lovely coffee shop, (they did take debit cards) so I had a sandwich and an ice tea it was delicious. Then I decided I didn’t need to see the inside of the house so I started the journey home. Images below are outside of Agardstand and inside the little town.
So I started the journey back and decided that I should try not to stop for images and not think about my feet which were blistered. But the photographer in me insisted I stop to make images with my pin hole camera. While I was making one image a woman passed by me I noticed she was picking raspberries. But my exposure was a long one so it took a little while. When I started walking again, I saw her and said “hello”. We started a conversation, introduced ourselves, and walk together for a while. Her name was Ingunn, I thought a very lovely name. We had children of similar ages. Both owned our own businesses at one time, and she loved history. My daughter Maggie, a historian. We walked on and she ask me if I wanted a ride home as her house was much closer to our location. I did want a ride! We got to her house and she introduced me to her daughter, Ida Elisabeth. It was a lovely day and we sat in her yard (which was beautiful) drank lemonade and coffee, and visited the afternoon away. They invited me to see their home which was first Norwegian home I have been in. It was stunning. Ida Elisabeth is also an artist. Such a small world in so many ways. My only regret is no image of either Ingunn or Ida Elisabeth. But I think mostly I make work intuitively and somehow my intuition did not call me to make a photograph. Maybe photographs were not appropriate on this day. I know I will be friends with Ingunn and Ida Elisabeth for the rest of my time on this earth, so I feel an image will come at the right time. I will not forget this day and I will not forget the prayer I made earlier in the day, for God to send me a friend someone who I could relate too on many levels. What a rich life I live.
August 4, 2012
There have been days on this journey I consider to be dark days. They can be lonely, frustrating, wet, or scary. On these days I have very few if any photographs to share. I feel like on these days I plunge into darkness and things just don’t go right. August 4, was such a day. After the wonderful day with Christine, I felt like the next day would be a perfect day for blogging and resting contemplating my experience thus far. Well um things didn’t work our that way, the campground campers excluding my self and I mean only myself had a major party that lasted 24 hours. The parents planted their teenage kids in the cabin next to mine. Need I say more it was the day and the night from hell. Music blared for 24 hours straight. Complaining was a waste of time so my little serene cabin turned into a hell hole in which there was no escape! ahhh I had to suppress a constant urge to take my tripod and use it to smash their stereo in to tiny bits and pieces. It was so aggravating and I was stuck! I am still thinking about ways of getting back at those people, not really.
- Ok, I’ll give her a break she was very sweet and helped me look for my keys, and she left before the party..
- August 3, 2012
- So, the story of Christin, really quite amazing I think. While visiting Petter, the security guard forgot to pick me up and take me to the ferry. So the visit continued for another 45 min which was interesting in its self but my thoughts about that situation belong to the story about Petter. Any way finally the guard came and took me to the guard station, there I was to wait for the next ferry which would leave around 3:10 pm. So I was there for an hour and half or so. This is where I met Christin, she works as a security guard at the prison. We had this great conversation just about all kinds of different things it made my wait so interesting and really fun. Christin invited me to sight see with her the next day. She picked me up from my campground at 10:30 am. We started our sight-seeing trip at the Viking park in Horten. The park was filled with little hills that had the treasures of wealthy Viking families buried underneath. It was really interesting I wondered if the treasures were really there…..
- Below a couple of images.
Next stop the Preus Photography Museum
When Christin and I arrived at the museum we saw it would be open at noon which gave us 20 minutes to kill. So we visited the Royal Norwegian Navel Museum. This museum documents the history of the Royal Navy. The models are beautiful and the museum was really interesting. I don’t have much more to add other than some images. What can I say I am photographer I kept waiting for the Preus Museum to hurry up and open.
The Preus Photography Museum is located near the main Harbor in Horten. It is considered the “National” photography museum in Norway. The museum is a remarkable place, it has its own extensive archive and an elaborate library as well as an amazing camera collection, with some cameras I never knew existed. I am hoping to get back to the museum for another visit and hopefully a look at the archives but public travel can be difficult and frustrating for a lovely older lady with a learning difference. Along with the exhibit on cameras was also an exhibit by the Norwegian photo club and images from the Preus archive. Both exhibits wear really nice. Christin and I were so fortunate that we given a personal tour by Hanne Holm-Johnson the curator. She was wonderful especially with the camera exhibit. She gave us a selection of Edward Steichen post cards, images the museum owns. I never knew Steichen was a painter as well. Steichen burned most of his paintings in 1923 because he felt that photography not painting would be his lasting contribution to the world and art. Well Preus Museum owns 25% of the Stiechen paintings left in this world and even better they own his 8X10 camera that looks amazingly like my good ole Big Red (Big Red is my 8X10 for anyone that doesn’t know)!
Here are just a few images from the camera exhibit .
Christin and I spend several hours in the Preus museum, I was very grateful to her for indulging my obsession for the world of photography. When we first arrived Hanne shared a book with me called, 80 Millioner Bilder it is a retrospective of the images belonging to Preus Museum dating from 1855-2005. It was a beautiful book I loved the book but the price was out of my budget. As we left the in the store told me, “Oh your book”, and I told her, “I am sorry I want it but I will have to think about it.” Well it turned out Christin had purchased the book for me as gift and memory of our day in Horten. I will always cherish this book it is stunning! It brought to mind that this is the third time this year someone has given me a book I truly loved. Below some images from the book and thank you from the bottom of my heart Christin!
Christin ended our day with a delicious lunch and a stop by the grocery store. I had these blue shell things recommended by Christin. They were fabulous, they could have been oysters but I am trying not to think about that. I am just thinking of them as delicious blue shell things.
What a wonderful day.
- My blue shell things.
- August 2, 2012
- Petter is an inmate that invited me back to the prison for a visit, I don’t have any images but I have an experience that I am still processing so I will not write about it yet as I want to gather my thoughts before I dive into the visit with Petter. After I visited Petter however I met a lovely security guard Christin. She is a native of Horten and offered to take me sight-seeing the next day! I AM SO EXCITED and of course I accepted her invitation.August 1, 2012Bastoy PrisonBastoy prison, at first it seems like a lovely summer camp, and in some ways it appears so. Still it is a prison, but it is the most liberal prison I could have ever imagined. Visits to Bastoy are very competitive and I can see why, it has to be the most unusual prison in the world. The prison houses around 150 men and is on an island off the coast of Horten, Norway. I was granted a visit on August 1st that would last two hours. I caught the 10 am ferry from the harbor in Horten that would travel to the island where I would be met by my guide. The ferry is run by prisoners and one guard. The first thing I noticed is that I could not tell the difference between a prison guard and an inmate. Mostly inmates wear “normal” clothes or clothes worn by any normal citizen. The staff and guards are very respectful to the inmates they speak to them as though they are colleagues or neighbors. It was very refreshing and I couldn’t help wondering what would happen if American prison guards were sent to Norway to learn a new way of dealing with inmates in the United States.
The island can be viewed in the back ground of the image above this is the harbor view of the prison. I was met by Elian, a counselor and social worker at the prison. She offered me tea and asked what I would like to see during my time on the island.
This little story is just in the beginning stages more to come…
I wanted to see the green houses because I believe proper nutrition is crucial to mental and physical health, I wanted to see an inmates living quarters and I wanted to see the farms. Elian as permission for us to visit each site, at first I thought she was making arrangements with the guards but instead she was arranging the visits with the inmates. The prison has its own grocery store that is stocked with healthy foods instead of ramen noodles and sodium based food products. Each inmate is responsible for their breakfast and their lunch. They are paid monthly for their individual jobs. All inmates have a job a requirement to live at Bastoy prison. They shop at the grocery store with the idea that they learn to manage money learn to eat nutritious meals.
Living quarters are shared by three to four men. In most of the houses there is seniority by the man who has been in the house the longest, so he becomes the supervisor in a way, and is in charge of seeing that the house chores are done regularly. The houses are quite nice and are well-kept by the inmates.
After we visited the living quarters Elian invited me to stay for lunch. The inmates cook lunch for the staff there is hot food and a salad bar. The salad bar is stocked with the vegetables in the above images. The lunch was delicious! I was starving and filled my plate with wonderful salad tuna and toss. I wish I could have taken a doggie bag , because I was eating so slow compared to everyone else of course I was talking my usual amount so….
After lunch there was time for a visit to the fields, to see the larger farming it was absolutely beautiful! Below some more pictures. There are a couple of buildings in the field areas one of which is a music area that inmates use to play. They call it the ”House of Blues”. I am also including an image of the prison chapel, the inside of the administration building and the house where new inmates live and inmates with substance abuse problems. Additionally a spectacular view of Horten from Bastoy Prison.
Monday July 31, 2012
Yesterday I did my second plan for my trip, which was to visit a student law clinic called Juss Buss. I was another truly amazing experience! I had a long visit with four female law students, all in their last year or internship years in school. They were so knowledgeable about the prisons and other social issues concerning law in Norway. While they don’t practice law per se they do help prisoners with legal issues after they are convicted and sentenced. They spent so much time with me and we exchanged experiences with the “legal world” . After our conversation they were willing to be photographed while I was photographing them the police found a suspicious object under a car parked in front of the American Embassy. The Juss Buss office was about 250 meters from the Embassy. Needless to say we were evacuated. Pretty interesting a bomb scare on my journey to Norway. We walked to the Harbor and while we were waiting for the ok to return I was able to go to an amazing exhibit at the Nobel Peace Prize Center. Artist and photographers, Lynsey Addario (Veiled Rebellion) and Tim Hethrington (Infidel). The images were stunning and so powerful. I was thankful in a strange way that we were evacuated because I probably would not have seen the exhibition otherwise. Up Stairs in the Center is a room with an exhibit with images from Nobel Peace Winners. What a great experience !
- Bulletin board at Juss Buss, these are publish articles by the students as well as news paper article relating to their work and beliefs.
- July 30, 2012
- Today, I got to visit the first place I proposed to visit. I was so lucky because I got a personal tour of the prison and I met Anna my tour guide she was so knowledgeable about the history of Norwegian prisons. She gave me some links to look into the history more. I left her a bottle cap it is third one I have given away I brought 10 and I plan to leave them all in special places. A couple of more formal images below. Tomorrow I visit Juss Buss a University and student run law clinic.
- Very excited!
July 29, 2012
Today I have just taken it easy, my mouth has been hurting quite a bit. I went to the museum of contemporary art which, I don’t know was ok but I thought the best part was the architecture and the cafe. Well another nice thing about it was that it was free!. Also walked along the harbor amazing boats. On Sunday all the stores are closed same in west Texas. Below one of the high light of my day.
July 28, 2012
Today is my first day out and about. I woke up to rain and it is still raining but it is not cold so I borrowed an umbrella from the hotel. I have had wonderful day so far. I decided to go thrifting and I had the most surprising experience. Going to thrift stores was a wonderful idea, mainly because I wondered into a store and met a lovely woman Eileen. She invited me to dinner at her home and I had a lovely time and learned so much about her culture, her beliefs and her commitment to helping people. In turn I shared my experiences with her as well. We had a long conversation about the killings last year and how they effected everyone in the country terribly. She explained that Norway was a small country and that everyone lost some one they knew in the shootings. We discussed Norwegian laws concerning prison time for people who commit these kind of crimes. It is hard for the country right now in dealing with this man they have never had this kind of violence happen, so they really do not have laws that address terrorism.
Eileen volunteers in an agency that helps women who are victims of human trafficking. The store she was working in helps to support these women. I feel so blessed to have run into Eilene. I plan to meet up with her in Bergen on the 8th of August where I meet I will her family and spend the night at their cabin I am really looking forward to it. She will show me Bergen some of the islands around the area!.
I also met another person in my thrifting experience, Eric. Eric said he taught theater to women in a women’s prison. He said it was difficult because the women were not in tuned with their feelings and emotions but he was really glad he had the experience. He told me all about the country’s wealth and their oil industry we had a great conversation as well. It was a really terrific day I learned so much it was amazing.
- Eileen and I
- July 27, 2012Traveling by plane took almost 24 hours I was beat yesterday when I got to my hotel, I did make some pictures but I accidentally deleted them, hopefully I will find them stranded somewhere on my computer. One thing I noticed right off the bat is things in Oslo are expensive! A bottle of water is 5 bucks. But I bought one bottle and will refill it with tap water because their water is clean and tasty!
This blog is a personal journal about my trip to Norway. The writing is informal and casual, most of the pictures at this point will be simple snap shots. As the trip progresses the images may become more formal but the writings and thoughts will be continued in the same format.
Traveling to Norway seemed like a far away dream, but here I am! My goal is to visit prisons and inform my work on human rights. More than that I want to learn as much as I can about the country and people who live here. So I have decided to start at the beginning on the 24th of July during dinner, I found that there was a bone in my hamburger patty. It became obvious when I took my first bite and bit down on the bone. I knew immediately I needed a dentist and fast!
So, Happily I found a dentist that would see me the next day, one day before departure. Oh man pain!
The Dentist had to pull the tooth because it was cracked past my jaw bone! Ouch!
After all the work I have done to get to Norway, I wasn’t going to let a little oral surgery stop me so I packed my pain pills and my film and got up at 3 am and called the Bastoy prison. I was really afraid to call the prison, because I worried that they would not allow a visit to the prison. Bastoy receives many requests to visit the prison from foreigners, so the visits are competitive and must be approved. But some how the tooth ordeal made the call much easier I don’t know why but it did. I was told to be there at 10 am on August 1, 2012! Yea!