Enjoy all things artistic in Denmark
3 September 2009
From the wildlife paintings of Johannes Larsen to the modern design classic that are Kristian Vedel’s carved wooden birds, Denmark has produced a great many acclaimed artists over the centuries.
Art still plays an important role in everyday Danish life – and visitors are invited to discover Denmark’s fascinating artistic heritage by exploring the many ’art routes’ that can be found all over the country.
Nowhere in Denmark is more closely associated with art than in the North Jutland region, which is known locally as the ‘Land of Light’ on account of the peculiarly pure quality of the daylight that’s said to lift the spirits and awaken the senses. The area’s unique light has attracted many artists over the years, especially to the artists’ colony in Skagen at the far north-eastern tip of the country.
One of the town’s main attractions is the Skagens Museum (skagensmuseum.dk), which houses more than 1,800 works of art by Skagen’s artists in the very surroundings in which they were painted. The colony of artists became established during the decades before and after 1900 and this year the museum pay homage to Anna Anchers, one of the leading female painters of this time as it commemorates the 150th anniversary of her birth. Through the exhibition – ‘I am Anna. A homage to Anna Anchers’ - the museum attempts to provide a broader understanding of this bold and revolutionary artist who was born and brought up in Skagen.
The museum also includes a children’s workshop where creative kids can follow in the footsteps of Skagen’s painters and create mini-masterpieces of their own.
In addition to galleries and artists’ studios, visitors to North Jutland can also get up close and personal with other local artisans as they ply their various trades. From ceramic potters and amber polishers to glass-blowers and candle-makers, the region is home to a great many craftspeople who relish the opportunity of welcoming visitors to watch them at work – or even get involved and try their own hand at the creative process!
Finding these artists is made especially easy in the Mariagerfjord area of North-East Jutland, where details of nearly 60 galleries, art studios and individual craftspeople in the area have been compiled into a dedicated art guide. Called the Mariagerfjord Kunstrute, the guide comes with a large map and all necessary contact details to allow visitors to plan their very own ‘art route’.
Anyone visiting the region over the weekend of 26th & 27th September will be able to participate in a special ‘open day’, when all the artists in the guide will be throwing open their doors and inviting visitors into their workshops and studios. More information (in Danish) can be found at mariagerfjord-kunstrute.dk.
A similar ‘open day’ will be taking place in East Jutland on the 6th & 7th October, with galleries, art museums and individual artists all working together to enthuse visitors about their creations and the beautiful scenery of the region in which they were made. Details of the artists involved (and how to find them) can be found at kunstruten.dk.
There’s also plenty to discover down in South West Jutland, where one of Denmark’s most beautiful art routes can be found between the towns of Sædding and Hjerting (close to the ferry port of Esbjerg). This route links eight local artists who invite visitors into their galleries on three occasions each year (the next two being 15-16 August and 7-8 November). More information can be found (in Danish) at strandvejenskunstrute.dk.
But art is not confined to the Jutland region. Elsewhere in Denmark, the island of Funen is also closely associated with the art world and even spawned the ‘Funen Movement’ in the late 1800s, when artists inspired by the work of famous painter Johannes Larsen flocked to the area to develop their own artists’ colony.
Today, the painters of Funen can be followed along the art route that runs between Faaborg and Kerteminde, with the added appeal of visiting larger-scale attractions such as Denmark’s Ceramics Museum at Grimmerhus and the contemporary art and photography collection housed at Brandts, an arts complex of exhibition spaces in the centre of Odense, along the way.
Odsherred, another artists’ colony on the island of Sealand, is also home to a great many modern-day artists – as is the island of Bornholm, which operates a special Craft Bus during the summer months to help visitors more easily visit the many ceramicists, silversmiths, sculptors, glass-blowers and other craftspeople at work.
To complement these routes, visitors planning to discover Denmark’s varied arts and crafts could perhaps plan their routes around accommodation in a ‘kro’, one of the uniquely charming and charismatic inns that can be found all over the country. There are nearly 90 of these individually-owned properties scattered across the country, each offering traditional Danish hospitality, alongside home comforts and gourmet restaurants featuring typical Danish cuisine.
Particularly worthy of mention is the 400-year-old, four-star St. Binderup Kro in North Jutland, an ancient thatched building furnished with antiques where a one-night stay (including a five-course gourmet menu and breakfast) costs £106 (DKK 895) per person binderupkro.dk).
Alternatively, the fairytale island of Funen is home to its own castle hotel, Hindsgavl Slot, which is set within acres of parkland. A weekend stay including cocktails, four-course dinner with wine menu, accommodation and breakfast costs £222 (DKK 1,875) per person hindsgavl.dk.
DFDS Seaways (dfds.co.uk) offers a regular service of overnight departures between Harwich and Esbjerg, with prices starting from £222, based on two people and one car travelling one way with a sea view cabin. Alternatively, fly Norwegian airlines (norwegian.com), Ryanair (ryanair.com), bmi (flybmi.com) or SAS Scandinavian Airlines (flysas.co.uk) to various Danish gateways from several UK airports.
For a more “general” introduction to Danish Art & Culture go to visitdenmark.com.