Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Klitgården/Easter Weekend

It's remarkable how behind I am on posts for our blog! Sorry for the long absence; we were really busy with work throughout June, then we were out of town for two weeks (which will be another blog post, hopefully soon!). We spent one week of holiday just hanging out in Copenhagen, which was a lot more fun than I expected it to be! But now we are back at work and normal life, so it's time to get back to blogging.

Waaaay back in April, we spent the long Easter weekend at an artists' retreat in northern Jutland ('continental' Denmark, which connects to Germany in the south). On the northern most tip of Denmark, where the North Sea meets the Baltic Sea, is the town of Skagen. Skagen has been inhabited since the Middle Ages, and is now Denmark's primary fishing port. Many Copenhageners holiday in Skagen, and this includes the royalty! In the 1910s, King Christian X and his wife Queen Alexandrine liked Skagen so much that they built a summer house there, called Klitgården (pictured here). Klitgården translates to The Dune House. The house is right on the beach and is surrounded by sand dunes.
Here you can see photos of King Christian X and Queen Alexandrine, who spent many holidays (especially Easter, like us!) at Klitgården. The home was completed in 1914. It was kept in the royal family until 1995, when it was sold and turned into an artists' and scientists' retreat. Our university supports some of its employees to stay there, and we were fortunate enough to be approved to stay over the Easter holiday.
All of the furniture inside Klitgården is original, dating back to 1914. Here you can see a reading nook, complete with arts-and-crafts style chairs, bench, table, and book shelf. My Dad loves arts-and-crafts furniture and builds his own, so I was excited to take a lot of photos to send to him!
In the dining room you can find the 55 ornamental plates that were commissioned by the King and created by Harald Slott-Møller. Each plate is unique and has a design based around a zodiac sign, Danish coats of arms, traditional Danish costumes, or Danish market towns.
This room was the King and Queen's bedroom, which has been converted to a conference room. You can still find the original closet. The small table/stool in the middle was the bed-side table that held the chamber pot. It is now used for holding the projector!
There was some beautiful glass work in the stairwell, which created lovely colors inside at sunset.
I loved the doorframes in the house.
This is an example of a bed-side table that would have held a chamber pot. The tables are still in all of the rooms, but the chamber pots have since been removed. Thankfully, there is in-door plumbing throughout the house.

The scenery around the house is really beautiful. The sand dunes go on for miles and miles. We were able to take a nice walk around, though we were sure to watch out for sand snakes!
About 1.5 km/1 mile through the dunes from Klitgården is Den Tilsandede Kirke  (The Buried Church in English, or The Sand-Covered Church).
This 14th century church was gradually buried by the moving sand dunes, so that by the 18th century, the entrance had to be dug out before every service. In 1795 the church was abandoned and demolished except for this lone bell tower.
Bob was inspired by the Buried Church and painted a picture of it in our atelier (he used some brick dust to create the red color of the roof of the church's tower). So, the atelier... this is actually where we stayed and slept! Just outside of the building of Klitgården are three ateliers built into a sand dune. When Bob applied to stay there, he stated that he wanted to compose and paint during his visit. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to use the piano (the piano was in the living room of the house, and Bob was told that he couldn't play it as it might disturb the writers that were staying in the house). So Bob spent his time drawing, sketching, and painting with water colors. Bob has been keeping this up all summer and he's produced some really cool works! It was a bit odd at first to sleep on the cots in the atelier, but we soon got used to it.
The town of Skagen is really lovely. The town has attracted artists for hundreds of years due to the stormy waters, soft rolling sand dunes, and beautiful light that is unique to Skagen. Many famous Danish painters spent time in Skagen. The town hosts an impressive museum, many small artists' studios, and lots of public art. This sculpture was created to honor the long fishing history of Skagen. The sculptor used a fisherman from another town as the model, and this nearly created riots in Skagen! When the sculpture finally went it, it required a police escort to keep it from being vandalized. Ah, to live in a time when art aroused such emotions in people...
This is the point where the North Sea meets the Baltic Sea. On some days when the tides are strong, you can see a distinct line where the two seas come crashing into each other.
There were also a lot of WW2 German bunkers around the point. You might remember from our 2012 trip to Jutland that there are bunkers all along the entire western coast of Denmark. They can be a bit dangerous: collapsing structures, and even some unexploded mines and grenades! But this particular bunker acted as a hospital to the German soldiers. It's now open as a museum.