Artist: Tony Cragg. Title: ‘The Group’ 2013.
After spending 60 million kroner on art commissions and acquisitions, St. Olavs Hospital in many ways topped it off in 2013 with the 3.5 metres tall bronze sculpture ‘The Group’ by British sculptor Tony Cragg, who is internationally renowned. The artwork has a central place on the hospital grounds, in the large square outside the main entrance of the Knowledge Centre, Olav Kyrres plass. Surrounded by a water feature and light stone and tiles on the ground, the shiny golden sculpture makes a stunning centrepiece.
‘The Group’ consists of 50 elements, “discs” that sit slightly askew from one another, but still make up a solid and balanced whole. Cragg himself has described the elements as elliptic columns grasping into each other, and the work is a variation of a shape he has worked with for several years before he made this sculpture in Trondheim.
Tony Cragg was first noticed for his sculptures made from scrap iron and simple materials. Following his international breakthrough in 1979, he soon became a sought-after artist and was commissioned to produce works for a number of public buildings and outdoor spaces in an abstract aesthetic, with stone or metal as materials. Early on, he collaborated with other noted British sculptors, such as Richard Deacon and Richard Long, but became part of a different art scene in the late 1970s, when he settled down in Germany and soon after became Professor at Düsseldorf Art Academy. In Norway, he participated in the large art project Skulpturlandskap Nordland in the 1990s, with his stone sculptures on the pier at Bodø harbour.
Like the other hospital centres, the Knowledge Centre is amply furnished with artworks, by more than 20 artists spread across six floors, a large video work by Jeremy Welsh, former professor at the Trondheim Academy of Fine Art, being a central piece. (Separate volumes have been written about the art at each of the centres at St. Olavs Hospital).
In addition to Tony Cragg’s sculpture, the Knowledge Centre is home to two outdoor – thus easily accessible for the public – artworks. In an original fashion, Anne Aanerud has made a very visible mark on the building itself with an integrated system of black points, which in combination make up a “knitting pattern”, on all the exterior walls. When viewed from a distance, the traditional ‘Marius’ pattern emerges, making it a symbol of innovation and knowledge.
The third outdoor artwork is a sculpture by sculptor Aase Texmon Rygh, a Nestor of Norwegian art. The work is a spiral shaped black stone sculpture titled ‘Møbius rund’, a Möbius strip, placed in an outdoor space on the north side of the building.
Other outdoor artworks from 2010–15 are placed in various locations across the hospital grounds. Outside the Accident and Emergency/Heart and Lung Centre, Petter Hepsø’s large bronze bear sculpture stands leaning against the wall. In the green area between the Mobility Centre and 1930-bygget there are several sculptures; a bronze chair by Mari Røysamb among the trees by the softly shaped water feature (the same shape as the one in the southern hospital park), and a stone sculpture by Jon Gundersen resembling the perfect forms found in nature. Next to the main entrance of the hospital’s oldest building, 1902-bygget, is a bronze sculpture made by Håkon Anton Fagerås, the naturalistic girl figure ‘Madeleine’. A marble copy of the sculpture can be found inside the Mobility Centre.
The Knowledge Centre was the last centre to be built as a part of the new hospital complex, and thus marked the conclusion of the hospital’s art commissions. In total, more than 2,000 artworks have been integrated into the new hospital centres during the 15 years of development at St. Olavs Hospital.