I was lucky enough to be treated to a Baltic Cruise this Summer, and I thought you might enjoy a selection of the more artistic, quirky, and crafty things I encountered. So settle down with a drink and enjoy the ride.
I was surprised how “lucky” statues are a “thing”; statues that you rub, sit on, or throw money at to gain “luck”, on the same lines as wishing wells or throwing coins into fountains.
This is the Old Town cat in Klaipeda, Lithuania, who apparently has a lucky tail!
The whole mouse sculpture, also in Klaipeda appears to be lucky:
The mouse is quite shiny with all the rubbing he gets, maybe this “lucky statue” trend in the Baltic is the origin of why poor old Greyfriars Bobby in Edinburgh is losing his nose.
In St Petersburg they have a lucky camel!
And a lucky cat in St Petersburg, you have to throw coins onto his ledge to be lucky. It’s quite tricky he’s about 12 feet off the ground:
I don’t know if it’s lucky to sit on Hans Christian Anderson’s lap in Copenhagen, but he’s getting a very shiny knee:
The Iron Boy in Stockholm is also getting some attention. He’s Stockholm’s smallest public sculpture:
I saw some famous statues. The Little Mermaid mobbed by tourists, a view you don’t usually see of her:
Also in Copenhagen, by the Radhuset, Lurblæserne (The Lure Players):
The Freedom Monument in Riga:
Macabre sculptures: ghostly monks in the Danish King’s Gardens in Tallinn:
The black ghost, emerging from the harbour in Klaipeda:
A skull on the Dragon fountain by the Radhuset in Copenhagen:
Art and other statues in Copenhagen:
Another detail from a fountain, the Stork fountain:
This pretty Tivoli fountain:
Glass sculptures in the trees in Tivoli:
This amazing piece of contemporary art, Soleil Levant, by Ai Weiwei in Nyhavn in Copenhagen, looks great from a distance:
and is really poignant close up:
Over 3500 life jackets from refugees, the sculpture was officially “opened” on World Refugee day 2017.
I’m not sure if this is art or a cycle path in Stroget, Copenhagen:
Does anyone know? It made me think of an underground stream under the street, I like how it catches the light.
Lovely Polar bear and cubs sculpture, has bulletholes in it from WWII:
In Stockholm, I liked the Sea God in the harbour area, greeting us as we alighted from our tender:
And this sweet lamb in Storkyrkan:
A frog outside a shop:
Tallinn has a strange boot sculpture:
Actually it’s a leg, and refers to one of two steep streets to Toompea hill: the Long Leg and the Short leg.
There were some lovely old painted panels in the Old Apothecary shop:
It still operates as a Chemist shop, but has a little museum room too, and all the old shop counters and fittings.
There was a giant astronaut monkey in a park in Riga:
He’s 12 metres tall, his names Sam and he was created by a Russian artist.
There were cats on top of the buildings – this is the Cat House:
And funky stencil graffiti in the streets:
At the harbour in Klaipeda, there was a statue of a boy, waving his hat at matching girl statue on the other harbour arm:
He had his dog with him:
Most of the statues were naked in Oslo:
In a distinctive naturalistic Scandinavian style.
Of course the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen was clothed:
And the trolls:
They were outside many of the souvenir shops.
There was a scary medieval carving embedded in the walls of Olso Cathedral:
And just over the road from the cathedral, randomly, some chickens:
Since I was in Olso, and the iconic painting, The Scream, by Edvard Munch, was in the National Art gallery, I popped in to see it, and found it lived up to expectation, and I enjoyed seeing his other works there. Outside the Munch room was a small sculpture by Vigeland, you can see the crowds in the room behind me drawn to The Scream:
There is a large park of his Gustav Vigeland’s sculptures in Oslo, and the statue of the man carrying a women in the selection above is also by him.
There were more paintings by Munch and other artists, in the Radhuset; the main hall is covered with murals:
The bench seats had gorgeous wool tapestry cushions on them, and were very comfortable. The whole building has amazing art incorporated into it:
I have a friend who lives in Olso, and he took me to any amazing place off the beaten track: Hausmania is a squat with a bar, nightclub, artist’s studios and is crazily and creatively decorated:
I loved this piece of graffiti, I saw too:
Olso’s Opera House is very impressive, photos don’t do it justice, it needs to be walked around and on, to appreciate its style and beauty:
It’s iceberg appearance is mirrored by the sculpture, She Lies, in the harbour, just off the Opera house. The first ship behind it is the Balmoral, the ship I sailed on.
The most revolting art I found on the trip was made from amber; there’s a lot of amber in the Baltic, and really I think they should have resisted the temptation to create these pictures:
These amber bunnies are a bit of an acquired taste too:
I loved this art jewellery amber necklace though from the Amber Museum outside Klaipeda:
I succumbed to the amber madness, and now have a more modest necklace and bracelet.
Onto the crafts! I hadn’t particularly looked out for knitting and craft shops on the trip, bu I’m naturally drawn to them. I also couldn’t spend too much time in them, as I had company. These are what I found:
Knit by Marie Victoria in Gamla Stan, Stockholm
Sweden was a bit pricey for me, so I had a brief scan around, and managed not to be tempted to buy. There were a few Scandinavian brands I recognised, and I came away with an impression of an overall soft dusty pale heathered palette, it felt very refined, calm and tasteful in there:
Cute craft shop in Gamla Stan with quirky handmade dolls, toys, ceramics etc, out of my price range, but lovely:
It also has a Viking gravestone embedded in the wall, and an old cannon:
Riga has a fantastic yarn shop, Hobbywool:
A series of little rooms in an old beamed building, with all sorts of nooks and crannies to discover yarny delights and crafts, there was plenty of local breed wools, and a large range of kits to make the local Latvian mittens. There were nice little gifts decorated with stitch patterns, and a whole section of handmade crafts by local makers. I saw a gorgeous simple cobweb weight natural dark wool shawl there with a slight halo; exquisite work.
Tallinn brought the motherload of crafts! After I’d enjoyed a morning exploring the cobbled streets and defensive walls of the old town, I walked into the Town square and discovered a huge craft market taking place:
These guys were in traditional dress, selling products made from honey:
I was keeping my eye out for fine lace shawls, as Estonia is particularly known for this, from Haapsalu in Estonia, but I didn’t see any. However, there were these beautiful hand knitted traditional gloves and mittens:
They were pure wool, (I asked the knitter):
We had a little bit of a stilted sign language knitting chat, with lots of smiles.
There were women demonstrating their embroidery prowess:
Lovely work, but I was a bit too shy to talk to them, they looked quite formidable.
There were quite a few stalls with embroidery on them. Despite everything being set up to make the most of the tourist industry, I thought the crafts were authentic and good quality, and quite reasonable/cheap prices.
I was keeping an eye out for quirky items, as I had experienced some quirky illustrations in computer games from Eastern Europe, and in Polish theatre posters, and hoped I might see some of this sensibility in art/crafts etc.
I bought a cute White Rabbit wooden badge from a local illustrator, Lucky Laika:
There was a crazy knitted window display:
Then I discovered the Art Doll shop and museum:
I didn’t go into the museum, but the shop was magical, and slightly creepy
I fell in love with a quirky grey plaid bear holding a bell, who has joined my slightly scary doll/toy collection:
I’ve named him Eugene, after Eugene Onegin.
The Art Dolls shop was at the end of St Catherine’s Passage, which is another great place for handmade items:
The right hand building has small makers workshops and shops: quite a lot of fashion, and some ceramics. The passageway itself has a lovely atmosphere, despite the tourists:
You come out of the passage to what is referred to as the Sweater Wall, this initially sounds promising, but seemed like manufactured mainstream jumpers, with some traditional styles thrown in. I wasn’t even tempted to look:
At that point I stumbled across Domus Linum:
Which I initially thought was just a fabric shop, but I spied the wool through the door and went in, and came away with 100g of Lithuanian Lace weight teal coloured wool, at only €5, to make my own Estonian style shawl with. There was actually quite a lot of yarn in there, but I didn’t have much time to stop and look, as my friend was waiting outside. I definitely want to return to Tallinn again!
So I’ll just round this post off with a selection of architecture shots, a lot of doors, and decorative manhole covers:
Gamla Stan, Stockholm:
Tallinn Old Town:
Art Nouveau in Riga:
I’ll be back with a post about what I discovered in St Petersburg soon.