Public warms up to contested park

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PHOTO FEATURE: “Fantastic,” “monumental” and “bordello” are among phrases tossed about in Norwegian media lately to describe the new Ekeberg Park opening this week in Oslo. See some of it yourself in this series of photos taken before all the official ceremonies began. Click on the photos here and over your mouse over them to read caption information.

  1. The new "Ekebergparken" sprawls over 63 acres on the Ekeberg hilltop just southeast of downtown Oslo, offering panoramic views over the city and the Oslo Fjord. Here, Norwegian artist Per Ung's "Mor og barn" ("Mother and child") gazes over the islands between Ekeberg and the Nesodden peninsula.
  2. Per Ung's "Mor og barn" ("Mother and child") is among several sculptures in Ekebergparken that are placed at scenic viewpoints.
  3. Here's another sculpture placed at a viewpoint, Aase Texmon-Rygh's "Möbius Trippel."
  4. Other pieces of art scattered around the new park are tucked into the forest, like this tribute to Marilyn Monroe by Richard Hudson.
  5. Knut Steen's ""Drømmersken" ("Dreaming woman") is located just behind the popular Ekeberg Restaurant, owned by the real estate investor and art lover Christian Ringnes who has privately funded the entire park project.
  6. Sean Henry's "Walking Woman" caught the attention of these women walking up the trail from the restaurant, which leads on to some of the open spaces on the Ekeberg plateau.
  7. Hilde Mæhlum's "Konkavt ansikt" ("Concave Face") is mounted close to the campground at Ekeberg, with a gaze that seems to follow visitors as they stroll by.
  8. British sculptor Lynn Chadwick's "Ace of Diamonds" is made of stainless steel, offering a sharp contrast to the dense forest around it. The city can be glimpsed through the trees behind it.
  9. Ekebergparken features works by such famed sculptors as Rodin, Renoir and Dali, with this modern work hanging from the trees by Louise Bourgeois. It's called "The Couple," a twisted bundle united for life, for better or worse.
  10. Much of the art reflects the nature around it, and it's spread out around the park so plenty of open space remains.
  11. Work was continuing on the park right up to its opening on Thursday afternoon. Here, the lawn hadn't been rolled out yet around the artwork of American installation and performance artist Tony Oursler.
  12. Grass was also being laid out around this sculpture by English artist Tony Cragg, called "Cast Glances."
  13. Members of a local sports club were actively engaged in work around the park, with their club set to receive a handsome donation in return.
  14. Signs of the protests over the park, which critics claimed would damage the nature, can literally still be seen. This one reads "Don't bully my forest," but public skepticism was turning to support as the park took form.
  15. Other signs of protest included small, often knitted, bands placed around trees in the Ekeberg forest, like this one that demands this tree be left alone.
  16. Critics and proponents of the park can carry on their debate back at the Ekeberg Restaurant over a cold beer from the Ringnes Brewery, which was founded by the family of park benefactor Christian Ringnes. Others can simply admire the view over Oslo, its hills and fjord after a walk in the park.

With just over 30 sculptures mounted at scenic viewpoints, tucked into the trees or even hung in them, the park also offers open space, lots of new benches and improved, lighted trails for strolling or contemplation, all perched on an easily accessible hilltop minutes from downtown.

Ekebergparken (The Ekeberg Park) has been hotly debated for years, with critics claiming it would damage the historic forests at Ekeberg and commercialize an area that’s been been preserved as a “green lung” for Oslo since the late 1800s. Now that it’s open, however, public sentiment seems to be shifting in favour of the park.

ALL PHOTOS: newsinenglish.no

For more on the development of the park, click here.

For more photos and practical information on the park, visit its own website here (external link).