Michelangelo once said: “The sculpture already exists within the marble block, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.”

I have had the pleasure to follow the Norwegian sculptor and author Barbro Raen Thomassen’s visual work of art for many years, although from a distance. The artist creates sculptures that turn the attention to the overlooked, insignificant and the invisible. Nature is her inspiration, and her work reflects the shapes found in seeds, butterfly eggs, peppercorn and much more. Through the microscope she studies forms and curves, and out of stone she makes sculptures strong and visible. She never copies nature, but lets the art follow its own demand.

Thomassen’s sculpture PEPPER – THE RISE AND FALL OF VENICE which was exhibited in La Biennale di Venezia in 2019, is now placed outside Bomuldsfabriken Kunsthall in Arendal which is the largest gallery of contemporary art in the southern part of Norway.
The title of the sculpture refers to the fact that pepper made Venice great in the 14th century – and led to its fall in 1497 when Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route to India, and Portugal took over the trade.
It is chiseled out in Norwegian Emerald Pearl, and the following text is carved into the stone:
Photos: Kristin Bae Mysen

The ballast seed object (Euphorbia peplus) is placed in the new City Garden in Grimstad, Norway, between the library and the sea, inaugurated in 2019.

Photos: Kristin Bae Mysen

Out of something hardly visible as a seed, sophisticated, surrealistic and at times erotic shapes emerge great and mighty.

Photos: Kristin Bae Mysen

The sculpture is placed in front of the Vennesla Council House
in Norway in 2018
According to Thomessen’s book “Jord og himmel om du vil” the apple is a symbol of all the possibilities there are for each and every one of us. We all have the potential to taste, to examine, to discover and to imagine. Sometimes we are forced to change our way of thinking, like cutting the apple crosswise, to reveal a beautiful star, a guiding star that is showing the way towards goals and meaning.

Photos: Kristin Bae Mysen

Look into more of her artwork from her website and you may order her books from this site

A Travel Blog Post


Photos / Edited by Kristin Bae Mysen

We have finally reached the absolute Northern part of Norway where the sun is up 24 hours a day – the Midnight Sun. Also it is possible to spot reindeer along the roads, and we have already seen a few. Today we visited the great silversmith Juhls, and I fell in love with this Sámi symbol of the sun. The sun has a special meaning for the Sámi people.
Photos / Edited by Kristin Bae Mysen

What a day! Biking along Alta river, one of the best salmon rivers in the world. Watching salmon fishing and the beautiful wooden Alta riverboats. Passing the Northern Lights Cathedral on our way to the stunning 7000 years old rock carvings at
Alta Museum World Heritage Rock Art Centre
Photos / Edited by Kristin Bae Mysen

Traveling to pretty Honningsvåg, the northernmost city in the world. We saw herds of reindeer, and I learned that they are grazing in coastal areas during summertime.
While we were there, the Hurtigruten Finnmarken arrived. Since 1893, the Hurtigruten ships have been a hallmark of the Norwegian coast.
Photos / Edited by Kristin Bae Mysen

Another great day up north. In Karasjok we had a guided tour in the Sámi Parliament, viewed Sámi art, learned about the local mineral Masikvartsitt and passed lavvos (temporary dwellings) out in the nature. In addition we had a coffee in a local cafe where everyone spoke Sámi. The cafe was crowded, a mixture of trendy youngsters, families with children and people who wore the traditional Sámi clothing Kofte. Fun to find wooden toys made for Sámi children as well.
Photos / Edited by Kristin Bae Mysen

These past days we have been spending some eventful days with our friends here in Vadsø. We have been king crab and cod fishing in the Varangerfjord, in addition to salmon fishing in the rivers. Great fun 🙂
There are many Sámis and Kvens living in Vadsø (Samís are the indigenous people and Kvens are a Finnish ethnic minority), therefore the street signs are in three languages. From the top; Norwegian, Sámi and Kven.
Upper photo: Nina Berglund, editor and publisher in NEWS in Article
Lower photos: Taken and edited by Kristin Bae Mysen

We have visited stunning Vardø, the easternmost town in Norway, which faces the Barents Sea. It is the only city on the Norwegian mainland deemed to have an Arctic climate, and is located even farther east than Istanbul. In 2012 a group of 12 street artists transformed “crumbling facades and abandoned factories” into art. I just love it.
Photos taken from their website

It was interesting to visit the Steilneset Memorial in Vardø, a monument focusing on the trial and execution (often burning) in the seventeenth century of 91 people accused for witchcraft. The district of Finnmark experienced the highest rate of accusations of witchcraft in Norway. Lower left is an installation by Louise Bourgeous which was her last major work. The monument itself is in my opinion an architectural gem.
Photos / Edited by Kristin Bae Mysen

After three weeks of travel, it was time to say goodbye to this beautiful part of the world.


Edited by Kristin Bae Mysen

Indigenous peoples such as the Native Americans, the Aborigines from Australia, the Māori  from New Zealand and the Sami people from Sápmi (Sameland) have expressed their culture through art since the beginning of time. Traditional art show animals, hunters, mythical creatures or ceremonies.
They are deeply connected with nature, and the idea is reflected in the Māori word ‘kaitiakitanga’, which means guarding and protecting the environment in order to respect their ancestors and secure the future.

I am teaching my high school students about the Indigenous peoples at the moment, and every year I reach these chapters, I find myself fascinated time and time again, by their bond to nature that the civilized world has left behind.

*Upper left: Raewyn Harris/Māori art * Upper right: Nils Aslak Valkeapää/Sami art
*Lower left: Rosie Tasman/Aboriginal art * Lower right: American Indian Fine Art



Edited by Kristin Bae Mysen

My dad, who passed away two weeks ago at the age of 86, loved the jazz standards. These relaxing and enjoyable evergreens sung by Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra will forever remind me of him.

Frank Sinatra: You Make Me Feel So Young    Nat King Cole: Unforgettable Louis Armstrong: What A Wonderful World  Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong Dream A Little Dream Of Me

I have made a Spotify list “Pappa”  in loving memory of my dad.

Photo: Gunnar Fjellengen

Ole Laurits Bae Mysen is walking the streets of Mysen, here 70 years old.


Photo: Kristin Bae Mysen

As a language teacher, languages do interest me a lot. Nowadays I have fun reading three different versions of the Bible;  a Norwegian, English and Spanish one. I see the Bible as one book, but the fact is that the word Bible actually means Books. The Old Testament alone has 39 books originally written in Hebrew whereas the New Testament has 27 books originally written in Greek. Because I am very fond of poetry, I specially enjoy the Psalms with its literary devices. To me Psalm 23 is an example of how beautifully these world famous verses go in all three languages:

Psalm 23:1-3  The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.

Salmo 23:1-3  El Señor es mi pastor: nada me falta. Sobre los frescos pastos me lleva a descansar, y a las aguas tranquilas me conduce. Él restaura mi aliento.

Salme 23,1-3  Herren er min hyrde, jeg mangler ikke noe. Han lar meg ligge i grønne enger, han leder meg til vann der jeg finner hvile. Han gir meg nytt liv.

Photo: Kristin Bae Mysen

I like to have Bible indexing tabs attached to the pages in order to easily navigate through the books. You may purchase similar tabs from here: Norwegian  Spanish  English



The other day I stumbled over this great artist via another blogger. I simply love his fine lines, and at the moment the upper picture makes the background on my iPhone.

Frédéric Forest grew up in Annecy, in the French Alps, and later came to Paris to study industrial design at ENSCI/Les Ateliers. Frédéric is dedicated to his passion, drawing, in his Parisian studio.

Visit his website here, and you may purchase his art here.


Photo: Kristin Bae Mysen

The red heart above is hanging on the door leading into our bathroom/toilet. In Norway I would think that every second family has a red heart on this door. Also you will find a heart as a standard sign for bathroom/toilet on hiking maps, info boards and in public places. This is a typical Scandinavian tradition, which actually is a bit strange.

In the olden days there were wooden toilets outside, and all of them had a carved heart on the door which probably served for lightening and ventilation. But why a heart?

– It is some sort of euphemism, explains the author Arngeir Berg who has written about the phenomenon. In other words an attempt to make something pretty out of something rather unpleasant.

Well, the heart is what is beating inside our chest, keeping us alive, and the heart is maybe one of the most popular symbols we have concerning love and relationships. So no wonder that the heart serves as a pretty decoration to make the place look more inviting. Another funny explanation though is that the heart is an upside-down rear end <3

However if if you ever visit a Scandinavian home, it is always easy to locate the right door!


Photo: Kristin Bae Mysen

Finally here it is, the latest issue of Juleroser 2017; a beautiful, literary and artistic Christmas magazine edited by Herborg Kråkevik. Juleroser is the Norwegian word for Christmas roses or more exactly Hellebore, latin for the evergreen plant which easily blooms in minus degrees.

Herborg Kråkevik is famous for her ability to preserve Norwegian/Scandinavian culture, and with this magazine she has renewed a long forgotten tradition. Juleroser has not been published since 1944. The magazine contains a brilliant mix; from traditional fairy tales, the Christmas gospel to newly written contemporary short stories and Christmas carols contributed by some of the most well-known authors and composers. In addition several artists have included their art work in the magazine. Aud Gloppen/ Blæst is responsible for the graphic design and Bit Vejle has made the cover (2017).  This is how Herbert Kråkevik presented the first issue of Juleroser in 2015, and this is how she did it this year.

Herborg Kråkevik is something of a story herself, a beloved multi-talented artist with a warm heart; she sings, she acts, she performs comedies and parodies. She is also known for preserving Norwegian folksongs, besides having thrown numerous shows such as Me and Edith (Piaf). Watch a good example of her work here and a favorite of mine from here where she plays against another great Norwegian comedian Robert Stoltenberg.

Juleroser can be purchased in any bookstores in Norway, or ordered from here.

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Graphic design: Cathleen Røddig Rønning

I love this poster that shows Norwegian design from the modern era of 1940–1975. Quite easily I spot my Ingmar Relling chair Siesta to the right, and to the left my childrens’s beloved Tripp Trapp chair from their childhood. It was designed by Peter Opsvik in 1972 and has the most intelligent design because it grows with the child, providing a comfortable, ergonomic seat at any age.

This exibition “Norway Icons” from 2013 -14 was shown in Oslo, Tokyo and New York. It was created to raise awareness of Norwegian Design History both nationally and internationally. It was Norwegian’s Icons contribution to mid-century Scandinavian design with its fine and rare decorative arts and furniture. You can look at the design from the catalog here.

It was curated by Fuglen; Coffee-Coctails-Vintage design located in Oslo and Tokyo, and Blomqvist;  Norway’s oldest, largest and most renowned distributor of art and antiques.


Photo: Jann Bernhard Nilsen

It all began this summer. My husband and I were hiking in the Norwegian mountains Rondane  and I decided that mountain flowers should be my holiday project. I wanted to learn all the names of the tiny, beautiful flowers that surrounded our feet. I made this little bouquet and back at the cabin I started to google and to memorize. Great fun!

Photo: Kristin Bae Mysen

While googling around I came across Fjellflora, a beautiful set of china produced by Porsgrunds Porselænsfabrik in Norway. It is designed by Tias Eckhoff (1926 – 2016), a famous Norwegian, industrial designer, for which he won The Norwegian Design Centre’s Award for Good Design in 1965. Today he is represented in various museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Read about him (Norwegian only) and look at his design from here.

But what caught my eye were the beautiful floral decorations. This set consists of twelve flowers, all found in the mountains of Norway. The artist, Dagny Tande Lid, (1903 -1998) is internationally known, and up to this day she is ranked as being one of the best floral illustrators in the world. She had a lifelong love of flowers, and these were among her favorites.

Photo: Kristin Bae Mysen

At the cabin I reached a decision, this china set should be mine! I spent all summer searching websites to find this particular set, and by the end of August I finally had a complete set. I was delighted to discover that each flower was described on the back of its tea plate, both in English and Norwegian with the signature of Dagny Tande Lid.

Photo: Kristin Bae Mysen

However this is like a never-ending story because I found another treasure as well. Dagny Tande Lid had also decorated liqueur glasses with the same mountain flowers for Hadeland Glassverk in Norway. Even more to purchase, and luckily I managed to get hold of all twelve. Done, I thought, until I realized that she had been married to the famous botanist Johannes Lid who served as a curator at the Botanical Museumin Botanical Garden in Oslo from 1919 to 1956, and that the two of them spent all their life together writing about and illustrating plants and flowers. Their most famous book Norsk flora was first published in 1944 and is still used at the universities approximately 60 years after. My son, who is studying landscape architecture, has this book as part of his curriculum. I was lucky enough to come across a copy, second edition, from 1952.

The couple also studied in depth the flora of the Canary Island, the Arctic, Svalbard and Jan Mayen which led to numerous books. Two places on Jan Mayen are even named after them. And so is one of the buildings at Botanical Garden in Oslo;  In 2011 they were honored for their contributions by having the Botanical Museum named after them:  Lids Hus – Lid’s House.

Photo: Kristin Bae Mysen

Dagny Tande Lid is best known for her illustrations for the Mountain flower of Scandinavia (Fjellflora), which has been issued in 325 000 copies since the first printing in 1952, and which is still available. As a matter of fact, I bought this book above, in a bookstore the other day. The text is written by the Norwegian botanist Olav Gjærevoll. The book has been translated into several languages, including English, German, Swedish and Finnish. She also became internationally recognized by the illustrations in Rocky Mountains Wild flower; a popular, beautifully illustrated guide to 430 species of Rocky Mountain alpine and sub-alpine plants. It is still used at universities “over there”. The drawings of Dagny Tande Lid can be exhibited here

Photo: Kristin Bae Mysen

Dagny Tande Lid can be compared to an onion which can be peeled a layer at a time. The sweetest layer and the highlight for me was actually when I discovered her work at the local library; her poetry and essays in her production of sixteen books. She outlived her husband by 27 years, and spent all these years writing. She has such a way with words, and her poetry is beautiful, humorous and wisely written, all with her flower illustrations, of course. I spent the whole summer reading, and wow what a lady!!