Knut Hamsun's 150. jubilee. Vågå and Lom 31. July - 8. August 2009.

"I remember everything. I remember that I was one and a half years old: I stood tottering on the bridge to the barn at Oppigard Garmo in Lom and sensed a particular smell. I still sense this smell!", Hamsun writes in "Growth of the Soil".

Finally came the long-expected day, the celebration of Knut Hamsun's 150. jubilee. Full of anticipation in our hearts we left the ferry in Larvik and set course for Lom. The weather was beautiful, some sun and some clouds. The programme looked exiting, like a string of pearls awaiting us. Here was something for any taste and any age.

First to greet us in Lom is Garmo, where we find the Hamsun house, a place full of history; I stand resting a hand on the wall, it is as though his voice speaks to me and touches something inside me.


Lom under the summer sun but with threatening clouds in the distance, a beautiful cultural centre with lots of happy tourists. Lom offers a lot, first of all mighty nature but also culture: There are many traces of well-known writers, not just Hamsun, and of famous lineages of folk-musicians. I stayed as usual with Torunn Kjøk, the nerve in Hamsun-related work in Lom. Olga from Georgia came also, her film will be shown in the course of the week's programme.

Hedvig and Olga at Fossheim hotel with Wilhelm Rasmussen's Hamsun-bust. Torunn with Bella.

This year the towns of Lom and Vågå had joined efforts to celebrate Hamsun, a beautiful initiative.

The Hamsun-days started with Kjell Bendiksen's exhibition in the beautiful mountain-museum, which also houses the tourist-information. Mayor Simen Bjørgen opened the exhibition. Whilst sipping a glass of Hamsun-wine we admired the paintings, which clearly showed, that Bendiksen is inspired by the divided mind of Hamsun. An incredibly exiting exhibition. My personal favourite was a painting based on "On overgrown Paths".

Kjell Bendiksen in the middle with his wife Gubjørg conversing an interested visitor

1 August. The sun was shining when we woke up, thank Goodness, we had been worried as it had rained a couple of days before and this was the day of the ceremony on the fells Sognefjellet. But first to two openings of art exhibitions. In the library Arne Sandervang's oil paintings to motives from Hamsun's novels. The exhibition was opened by mayor Simen Bjørgen. Sandervang had chosen to present his paintings in a special way: Dressed up as Knut Hamsun he commented on every painting.

Arne Sandervang

The we crossed the square and went over to the gallery Steinfjøset, where Karl Erik Harr showed 46 paintings inspired by Hamsun, 10 oil paintings were completely new. Harr bid us welcome and Ellen Horn opened the exhibition, Harr's wife sang, a pleasant atmosphere and completely full house. Outside we were treated to refreshments before we entered the busses, that brought us to the mountain Sognefjellet.

Karl Erik Harr Ellen Horn Aud Nyegaard

A fantastic tour in the beautiful weather, 5 busses in total. At the parking space in the fells with Fannaråken in the distance happy people and lots of cars were crowding, around 5 - 600 people enjoyed the nature and the performance of "Oh Isak", build over dialogues by 5 female writers: Herbjørg Wasmo, Gro Dahle, Maria Tryti Vennerød, Hanne Ørstavik and Vigdis Hjort. It was a grand and impressive experience to watch and listen to the three actresses Ane Dahl Torp, Liv Bernhoft Osa and Marit Østbye, directed by Kjersti Horn.The choir, directed by Kristbjørn Rossehaug and Hildegunn Hovde, both sang and delivered sound effects, all dressed in wide yellow dresses, flapping in the wind and with mountains, sky, sun and clouds as the set. Violinist Marie Forr Klåpbakken's music and other sounds and chords made it a unique experience. It was as though fairies and trolls popped up behind stones to participate. I was carried away in a beautiful mood, were I really here in the middle of Norway's grand nature, surrounded by happy people and with Hamsun in my heart.

"It is Isak. And his shoes trod a path over my skin. His shoes walk along my veins. His feet kiss my heart and continue under the children's trees.." From Gro Dahle's dialogue.

Back in Lom the Hamsun-days in Lom and Vågå were officially opened. We were welcomed by the two mayors Simen Bjørgen, Lom and Rune Øygard, Vågå and by Vigdis Moe Skarstein from the National Library. Bjarne Buset from the publishing house Gyldendal presented the new edition of Hamsun's collected works to the two towns, a fine and well-received gift.

Simen Bjørgen's speech. Rune Øygard (right).

Then we heard a lecture by Inge Eidsvåg in Nordalsberget: "Words and life. On Hamsun's duplicity in Growth of the Soil." Again with nature as the set and a thundering river behind we listened to Inge's wise words. Few people are able to understand and imply Hamsun like him. The evening ended with the film "Growth of the Soil" from 1921 in Lom cultural centre, but as I had already seen the film in Melbu, I ended the day with a glass of Hamsun wine and a talk with friends..

Again we rose to beautiful weather. We now travelled to Vågå to Skultbakken and Knut Hamsun's father's farm through three generations. Hamsun's great grandfather Ole Pedersen cultivated the farm Skultbakken from around 1790. There are no buildings left from Hamsun's fathers times.

The band Vandrerne. The owners of Skultbakken Else and Thor Brun conversing mayor Rune Øygard.

An enjoyable programme awaited us. From a tent music tempted, the fiddlers "Vandrerne" were in action, at a long table the famous chef Arne Brimi and his staff served delicacies, happy people strolled around enjoying the atmosphere and looked with curiosity at the tall veiled statue, which was to be unveiled today.

County governor Kirstin Hille Valle, the sculptor Skule Waksvik and the sponsors Unn and Birger Bostad.

The owners of Skultbakken, Else and Thor Brun, were extremely happy about the large number of people having shown up today. The owners plan to develop the place slowly by restoring the outhouse and returning an old store-house to it's original place at Skultbakken. The generous donors of the statue Unn and Birger Bostad rejoiced with us as county governor Kirstin Hille Valle, with some well-chosen words, removed the cover and we all saw Knut Hamsun towering over us! Yes, he IS wandering. The statue is made by Skule Waksvik and is 2,75 meters tall. The afternoon continued with a lecture by Ivar Teigum, more music and debates and talks, we really profited from the beautiful weather. For the walkers among us a guided hike was offered from Skultbakken down to the Hamsun-stugu in Garmo. Many took the opportunity, I took the opportunity to get a lift in a friend's car.

Olga from Georgia enjoyed the statue. Sergio Calabri's beautiful glass-paintings.

After a splendid dinner in Lom and a small break in Torunn' house, we were ready for the next event in Vågå, where Sergio Calabri's beautiful exhibition of paintings on glass was opened in the cultural centre. Mayor Rune Øygard bid us welcome, hereafter we enjoyed a concert with the gifted Hemsing-sisters and Håvard Gimse. It was a moving experience, they were just so skilled.

I just enjoyed the first three days of the festival, then I had to fly to Hamarøy, but do have a look in the programme and see the multitude of events taking place during these days, yes, Hamsun was really celebrated.

See the whole programme The Hamsun-Society in Lom or at The National Library

"These fairytales from the Gudbrandsdal valley, this very peasantly poetry, this imagination on foot, it belongs to us..." (Mysteries)

© Kirsten Hedvig Rasmussen