Oslo: the celebration of peace
A 10 minute walk from the harbour and we were in the centre of Oslo, staring up at the Radhuset (City Hall). Its design is more in keeping with a power station than a local seat of government, but inside there is the richly adorned Ceremonial Hall where, each year on December 10th, the Nobel Peace Prize is presented (the only one to be presented outside Nobel’s native Sweden).
Across the road is the Nobel Peace Centre, where the work of past and present Peace Prize winners is on display, providing a meeting place where reflection, involvement and discussion can take place. By just two days, we had missed the visit of Aung San Suu Kyi (from Burma) who had come to give her Peace Prize lecture 21 years after her son had received the prize on her behalf. Characterised as ‘Mother Democracy‘, she has become an iconic figure-head of one country’s struggle for freedom.
Amongst the many museums in Oslo, the National Museum of Art had to take
priority, even if just to see Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream‘, the most iconic painting from the expressionist movement. What strikes me about the painting is that, if you take away the figure in the foreground, you are left with a visually attractive view of a fjord at sunset, with two people walking along, basking in the dying rays of sunshine. But this is what Munch himself had to say about the circumstances surrounding his painting:
“I was walking along the road with two friends. The sun was setting. I felt a breath of melancholy – Suddenly the sky turned blood-red. I stopped, and leaned against the railing, deathly tired – Looking out across the flaming clouds that hung like blood and a sword over the blue-black fjord and town. My friends walked on – I stood there, trembling with fear. And I sensed a great, infinite scream pass through nature.”