When Your Ship Doesn't Come In....
....and you find yourself in Drammen, Norway, the prospect of several days inactivity is less than inspiring - or so I thought until I and my fellow magneteer walked across the bridge to investigate the commotion audible from our hotel.
It was festival weekend and the streets were awash with stalls selling everything you could comfortably live without and more, plus, there were power boats racing up and down the river - something that warranted a closer look.
There were a few vintage boats of which this was the prettiest. We wandered up and down the river bank whilst more modern racers, some with fully enclosed cockpits and daft amounts of horsepower, flew past at full chat.
The festival went on for the whole weekend but I elected to slip off to Oslo on the train on Sunday and visit a couple of galleries before our ship arrived and the magnetising work began on Monday morning.
I caught a glimpse of part of Oslo as we sped through on the train from the airport on our way to Drammen on Friday evening - it looked promising. Norway's tiny population - 2.5 million less than London's - has produced its fair share of world-class artists though many are not particularly well-known outside Scandinavia. Look out for Harriet Backer for instance.
There's clearly much ado about Munch, Norway's most famous artist, because this was part of the hour-long wait to get in to the National Gallery. A queue, though inconvenient, is usually a good sign.
Munch's 'The Scream' was rather muffled in real life, but his other work was more vibrant.
'Girls on a Bridge', had the intensity that I had expected of 'The Scream' and for me was the better painting but, given the choice, Munch's ....
.....'The Day After', was the most fun. My ticket for the National Gallery allowed me entry to the Museum of Contemporary Art and, after a quick look-in on the Museum of Architecture - lots of very nice models and also part of the ticket offer - I made my way into a building that I imagined could once have been an asylum and, the contents on the ground floor did nothing to dispel this notion.
These exhibits were the offerings of various up and coming artists exploring relationships between this and that; creating tensions with both constructed and discovered dialogues; demonstrating essential insights into the unreality of meaning; dialectic temptations - blah blah fishcakes, Top Banana!
A documentary photography gallery on the first floor which welcomed you with work by Dorothea Lange immediately made more sense. The theme of the exhibition was 'Street Photography', essentially documenting life on the street in various counties and times. It seems morbidly fascinating to look at black and white photos of people we sometimes mistakenly consider to be less well-off or more ridiculous than ourselves but, there's no mistaking the skill of the photographers.
And such is the efficiency of the Norwegian railway system, I didn't have long to wait before my train came in.