A Distant View of Vikings

It might have been a Viking longboat.  If I screwed up my eyes sufficiently, and ignored the fact that it was made of granite and had a lot of cylindrical holes bored into it.

Of course, it is the association of place, which initiates the analogy.  If the sculpture had been in Venice instead of Bodø, I might have thought it resembled a gondola.  Or, if I had come across it in a branch of Greggs, I might have been put in mind of a furled-edged cheese-and-onion pasty.

In fact, it is the first in a series of seven sculptures by British artist Tony Cragg, which line the top of the concrete pier off Moloveien in Bodø in northern Norway.

name plate 1 P1000975

name plate 2 P1000976

Cragg––Sir Anthony Douglas––is known for his installations of ‘found’ objects and for his sculptures, which often juxtapose the natural and the manmade.

The second stone doesn’t look like a Viking longboat no matter how much I screw up my eyes; nor does the third, fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh.  In fact, if there is a progression in the series, it is in their increasing dissimilarity to a Viking longboat.

2 P1000973

3 P1000972

4 P1000971

5 P1000970

6 P1000969

7 P1000968

However, the stones hold a fascination, chiefly linked to their setting.  The holes through them are clearly of human manufacture, but they resemble natural forms of igneous, basalt rocks, which I have seen in other parts of the world––China; Ireland.  Stones with sharp-edges, which make you mindful of cuts and grazes; holes, which invite, like telescopes, for you to gaze through them, only to find that without the artificial lens of magnification, the view beyond appears more distant and remote.

through hole P1000977

© E. C. Glendenny


Travel writer E. C. Glendenny ponders the aesthetic.

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