Have you ever dreamed of walking around in a park full of beautiful and lightly dressed women? From September 2013, you can explore over 80 delightful sculptures inside the ‘Female Park’ in Oslo. You may thank real-estate investor and art collector Christian Ringnes for realizing the project.
The highly debated idea was launched in 2006. The park is a tribute to every woman, as well as creating a cultural arena inside the woods surrounding Ringnes’ restored gem – the Ekeberg Restaurant. With its amazing view, it has become one of Oslo’s most prestigious restaurants and attractions. Not before it was voted ‘restaurant of the year’ Ringnes is back in the spotlight – this time by art critics.
To Norwegians the Ringnes family is known for their 140 years of brewery, but today’s manager Christian Ringnes (photo on the left) is best known for his commitment to cultural development in the city of Oslo. In 2005, he reopened the Ekeberg Restaurant, and later he funded the restoration of Folketeateret (the Folk Theatre) in Oslo – best known for its immense Kate Moss sculpture. Last year, he bought (and therefore secured) the premises of the Ibsen Museum (Henrik Ibsen’s last residence). Now, he has donated 300 million Norwegian kroner (approx. 50 million dollars) to Oslo municipality for the realization of the so-called Female Park.
Ringnes has received massive criticism for the controversial sculpture park – including male chauvinism, critical intervention in forest areas, a park for fornication etc. In an article for the Norwegian newspaper VG on April 13 this year, he writes:
The Ekeberg Park opens on September 26th. Nearly 10 years of planning has made the project even better than I imagined.
The original Ekeberg Forest Park was built for the population of Oslo around 1900, with pebbled paths, viewpoints, benches, stairs and a dance pavilion. The park was well-kept, even by sheep grazing, up to 1960, but has since decayed. This will now be put in order. In addition to 80 sculptures, a 4305.6 sq. ft. (400 sq. m) artificial pond, lighting along the main trail and marks where Edvard Munch painted the Scream and other historical relics will be added. (…)
Following the recommendation of the artistic committee consisting of six people, the Oslo municipality determines which sculptures will be placed in the park and where they shall stand. (…)
I come from a family that has a tradition of being generous. My ancestors funded several of the Arctic expeditions in the early 1900s. Although I have been making values through business in Oslo, I think it is reasonable to give something back. I want to contribute to beautify my home town, and after all – I am already involved in the Ekeberg Restaurant, the Holmenkollen Restaurant, Ibsen Museum and Folk Theater and several art donations in Oslo including the Peacock Fountain, Glove Fountain, Tiger sculpture and the Kepler Star at Gardermoen Airport. (…)
All democratic processes and appeal rights are safeguarded. That someone does not agree with a decision does not make it undemocratic, questionable or erroneous. (…)
Fortunately, the vast majority leads a factual debate, and I look forward to the opening of the Ekeberg Park.
(article continues below image)Some of the criticism comes from environmentalists. Ringnes points out that 90 percent of the forest area will not be affected, but some trees will be trimmed to improve the view. The biodiversity is identified and safeguarded, he assures.
The purpose of the Ekeberg Park is to create a unique and diverse sculpture and heritage park for the enjoyment and enrichment for the city’s population, and an attraction for visitors. The park will be developed into a unique sculptural landscape where art, history and nature constitute a great device that is ideal for an unforgettable experience.
Among the artists, it is worth mentioning Auguste Renoir, Auguste Rodin, Louise Bourgeois, Aase Texmon Rygh, Tony Gragg, Jenny Holzer, Per Ung, Salvador Dali, Fernando Botero, Knut Steen and Richard Hudson. Read more about them here.
Please visit Skulpturparken for more information.
Text and photos by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews