Anna Kornelia Holm


This is the story of a working-class woman who has been given a memorial. This sculpture has jokingly been called "The most popular woman in Trondheim"! But this came about long after Anna was dead.
Anna Holm was born on Skjervøy in Nord-Troms, as a so-called illegitimate child. Her father was a shopkeeper's assistant, and Anna kept his surname all her life. Her mother married a widower not long after, and she gave Anna several small siblings. After a while, Anna was taken into care by foster parents. Back then this was not an uncommon fate for children (illegitimate or not) when there were many siblings in a family. Her foster home was not far from where her mother and family lived so contact may have remained good and normal. Anna was confirmed in the church on Skjervøy in 1902, and the vicar talked warmly of her.

In the census for 1910 we find Anna in Harstad, as a "waitress" in a hotel/boarding house in the town. At some point in time or other she moved on to Trondheim, but it is impossible to determine exactly when. But she left clear tracks from the middle of the 1920s. In Trondheim she made a living doing laundry and cooking for various families. Her days must have been hard and long, and often cold. Laundering was generally done in basements and yards. Anna was not very talkative, but she would laugh at jokes. She never hid the fact that she was lonely. Around 1937 she moved to a small and cold flat on the Danielsveita alley, and it appears she lived there the rest of her life.

At the end of the war Anna became a "pensioner". It is doubtful whether she received any generous piece of the welfare cake; sober-mindedness and thrift dominated her life. Up to then she had been one of the many. But now she had unlimited time at her disposal. She would spend many hours in downtown Trondheim, eventually becoming quite a familiar sight for many. Her appearance was stocky and perhaps old-fashioned, but she agreed when Tone Thiis Schjetne in 1957 asked to make a model for a sculpture of her. In the 1980s the artist resumed this thread, giving us the well-loved market square sculpture "Go’dagen" [Good mornin'] − Anna's standard greeting to passers-by. Stavanger also has a copy of the same sculpture (there called Kånå [the woman]). In both locations the general and everyday feel of the sculpture appeal to the public.

Anna Holm never got to experience this popularity. On her death, all formalities were arranged by the public authorities. There is no evidence of next of kin, so "attended by friends", she was laid to rest.
Recommended reading: Billedhuggeren Tone Thiis Schjetne [The sculptor Tone Thiis Schjetne]. Tapir, 2003.

Author: Einar Rædergård