Amundsen Og Jeg - Part 3

24.04.2015

The Fram
The Fram

From Uranienborg we all went on to the Fram museum, again Lars kindly driving me across the city to go, and in fact coming with me to look at the ship.
An amazing thing about this museum is that you are actually allowed on the ship. You can walk where Amundsen and his men walked. You can see their tiny sleeping quarters, or stand on the deck and imagine being on there in a storm on the freezing, wild seas of the Southern Ocean.
My work on the libretto for the opera is all but done. You see, opera takes such a long time to create I needed to have the libretto finished almost eighteen months before the opera went on, so Mirek has the time to write the music... The bit that really counts. Because of this, I didn't really go to the Fram museum to learn anything. I didn't do much reading of information or taking of notes, because I had done all this from books many, many months before. But while Christian ran around the boat looking at this and that, and Lars and Kjetil laughed at the supply log (one entry for 'a pile of wood' and another for 'another pile of wood... for emergencies'), I walked around trying to imagine Amundsen and Hanssen and Bjaaland and all the other members of his team being on that boat. What kind of thoughts went through their head? What excited them and what scared them?

Amundsen's crew infront of the Fram museum
Amundsen's crew infront of the Fram museum

Lars, Kjetil and Christian said goodbye to me in the museum, leaving me to spend more time there. They had been so warm and so welcoming all through the day and said goodbye with hugs and lines about 'hoping to see me again next time'. I had gone from being nervous walking to Lars' house that morning, to being sad to see them all leave in the afternoon. And yet it was appropriate to be left alone and to find my own way back to the city, because for all the warmth and beauty of Norway, its darkness is definitely tied to a sense of loneliness and isolation. Perhaps even alienation. And for me, this is the lasting impression of who Amundsen was; a lonely man, perhaps so alienated from human society, he pushed himself to spend years at a time away from it.
As I got the ferry back across the fjord, the silver clouds had been replaced by dark blue skies and bright sun. Families were on the ferry, having a nice time. Little kids made lots of noise. And I sat on my own, looking out over the water, feeling... Ready to get home to Australia and back to my new, pregnant and loving partner.

Tom Holloway and Amundsen
Tom Holloway and Amundsen

This was my experience of Amundsen and Oslo. The trip also included going with Brede and Torunn and some friends of theirs back to the Munch museum, where there was an incredible exhibition connecting Munch's work to the contemporary, controversial Norwegian artist, Bjarne Melgaard. The new sat against the old, showing the vibrancy and darkness of Norway, all over again. I loved it, and this juxtaposition perfectly captured my experience being back in the City Of The Tiger, thinking about a man who spent his life as a lone wolf.

But a few weeks before I went back to Norway, I'd been in Tasmania, following Amundsen's tracks around my hometown of Hobart. That experience, and how these places at far ends of the Earth are so linked, is still to come...

Holloway, Tom

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