While in Oslo, outside of the meetings we are having, I’m spending some time going on guided walks….guided by my 21 month old Son.
I have come here with my Partner, Robin, and our Son, Yves. We will be working together as a family unit guided by Yves.
This is not too dissimilar to our everyday life, myself and Robin are both freelancers and take equal share of looking after Yves. I have so far brought Yves with me through most of my projects, wherever possible.
Childcare is expensive (unaffordable) and I want to spend time with my Son so this is how we work.
I also believe strongly that the way we live impacts the generations that succeed us far more than our own and we should treat them as the most important people. When we make decisions, we impact them. So I’m letting Yves make our decisions by guiding our way round the city for a while each day, and seeing what his points of interest are.
I am mapping our guided walks and marking Yves’ points of interest to make into some kind of visual art piece on return to Birmingham.
In a meeting today with Katya at OCA, I commented on how child friendly I had found Oslo so far in comparison to Birmingham. So many parks in walking distance for one. She informed us that it is not expected for people here to have meetings after 3pm as that is when they pick up their children from Kindergarten, then they finish their work from home! She also told us that if the Kindergarten never sees the Father picking up the children they question why as it is more expected that both parents will be involved in childcare here. Amazing.
Today it snowed! This was the first time Yves has ever seen snow and he found it pretty exciting. The journey to this mornings meeting with Madeleine Park, Curator and Manager of RAM Gallery, was pretty tricky. Yves wanted to play in the snow NOT move in any particular direction we wanted to go in. This fight between working life and his wants/needs can get pretty stressful. He screamed pretty much the whole way to the meeting and me and Robin took turns holding him as he scrambled for freedom, refusing the pushchair. By the time I got to the meeting I was far from ‘together’ and Robin stayed outside with him so he could play in the snow. I felt pretty jealous to not be spending that time with him on the first morning he has ever seen snow. This is pretty representative of the constant pull between work and Yves we experience all the time.
One of the things that has pulled me to wanting to do a project where we allow Yves to direct the way, is a desire to give in, to stop fighting, to just say yes to him. Yesterday’s walk took us to places we never would have gone to if he hadn’t been leading the way, he is showing us new things. This isn’t just for him by any means.
After the meeting Yves fell asleep so we took the opportunity to visit The International Museum of Children’s Art. I wanted to see what they had in their collection, how do children draw the world? There were two sections that particularly interested me ‘Future City and the Green Shift’ and ‘Children and Nature’. It was very revealing to see how children perceive and conceive of how cities can develop in really creative and positive ways, their love of nature, of animals, their deep connection and total awareness of their (and our) dependence on it was very powerful.
There was no photography allowed in there in order to protect the children’s copyright which is excellent but also means I can’t blog any of the wonderful images. If you’re in Oslo check it out.
Then it was time for Yves to lead the way. Today was tricky because the snow meant that pavement and road became indistinguishable so to stay safe we went to the nearby park Vigelandsparken. This was an amazing park, massive, beautiful, full of sculptures and art and today, snow. Yves, however, was having a pretty grumpy day. Maybe it was the fact that he wouldn’t wear his mittens and his hands were red and cold, maybe it was that we had left it too late, but today his walk didn’t go further than 20 meters before he just sat and cried. So we went back to the house on the tram.
I suppose this is also a good reflection of our day to day life. We all have bad days.
Today we went to the Nobel Peace Centre, currently exhibiting ‘Shifting Boundaries’ and ‘Hope Over Fear’.
‘Shifting Boundaries’ is an exhibition about the boundaries we face in our contemporary European society both physically and mentally. The exhibition presents photos from twelve European photographers, who have been assigned to work on the same theme, with wildly different results.
‘Hope Over Fear’ is the Nobel Peace Prize Exhibition 2016, a unique and intimate portrait of President Juan Manuel Santos and the Columbia people in the middle of a difficult peace process. The Colombian president dedicated the Peace Prize to the victims of the country’s civil war that has lasted for more than 50 years.
I found both exhibitions to be profound, emotive and strong. Very relevant to conversations we have been having about how everything is connected. You can’t save the planet through Green strategies if there is still war for example.
Everything and everyone counts.
I was immediately struck by Marie Hald, a Danish photo journalist whose work ‘The Girls From Malawa’ was on show. This featured intimate portraits of young eating disorder patients. It is a reminder that whilst we are at war with each other, there are many (in this case young) people struggling to survive the wars they have with themselves. I myself have battled eating disorders from a very young age so to see this work moved me intensely.
The images by Mads Nissen in ‘Hope Over Fear’ were taken on an assignment with journalist Dorris Salez in Columbia in October 2016. A family mourning there dead child, a little girl sleeping on a bed with a rifle slung on the bed post, the decoration painted on a child’s arm that has been amputated from the elbow down.
There is a sentence in the pamphlet to go with the work that I want to share;
‘Many years of work lie ahead to build peace – because true peace is not created by signing a piece of paper. It is created by people working hard together, living together and resolving their disagreements without resorting to violence. Peace is created when hope overcomes fear.’
So, my question is, no matter how small or large a conflict may be, from a disagreement between colleagues to a full blown war, what is it that makes us so quick to fight, how can we maybe become a species smart enough to maybe just talk about it instead.
There were three Yves led walks today. We are finding many things we might not have taken the time to appreciate or might not have noticed without him, including these butterflies in the ground;
This shadow of a tree;
And this group of snow covered bollards;
Today we went to the Munch Museum. There was an exhibition of two artists work, Lena Cronqvist and Per Inge Bjørlo, and a selection of works by Munch that had inspired them.
Mental health, the unspeakable, life, death and sickness featured prominently in themes, but joining them all together were relationships. The Mother figure and children were at the forefront. The relationships we have, the uncertainties in those relationships, and the importance of them in our lives, especially in regards to our own family.
We did another walk led by Yves. They often end abruptly when he finds something he doesn’t want to leave (today this was a particular tree) or he just doesn’t want to walk. Common themes of interest points for him are, unsurprisingly, playgrounds, puddles and anywhere he can see other children. It’s interesting how tactile he is with everything. He shuffles his feet through the snow and slush, scrapes them on the ice, rubs his face in bushes, smells things, bites twigs. He often gives us presents, tiny pine cones, handfuls of grass, leaves, conkers and, over the past couple of days, lumps of snow. He can stay for long periods of time enjoying these things where we would just keep walking. His relationship with nature, at such a young age, is of discovery and exploration. Everything fascinates, everything is interesting. Everything is to be looked at, studied, and felt.