Water spirit in the deep
Velkommen ned i dypet – til Nøkkens hjem. Nøkken er lumsk. Han jager etter menneskeliv. I dypet av et tjern bor han ensom, og stundom hender det at nøkken skaper seg om til en hvit hest for å lokke oss opp på ryggen sin – så setter han lukt på vannet.
Theodor Kittelsen’s ‘Nøkken’ (Water Spirit) will be in the spotlight when the Kittelsen Museum at Blaafarveværket’s Cobalt Mines celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2018. The Museum will get a new entrance, and the public will be invited to go down into the cellar, down into the deep, to experience the sinister and malevolent Nøkken water spirit, depicted in several illustrations. The creepy tales of water spirits were designed to prevent drowning accidents and explain any accidents which had already occurred.
Kittelsen drew and painted the ‘vasstroll’ (water troll) version of the water spirit as early as 1881, but in 1882 he painted the same figure as a ‘fossegrim’. He created the water spirit just visible above the surface of the water for the first time in 1887, for use in his poetical work ‘Troldskab’, and later depicted new versions in this style. Soon he was depicting the water spirit as fishing, shrieking, transformed into a horse, or as a mere suggestion in an otherwise peaceful landscape. Kittelsen’s water sprite can be understood by all of us, and has given the unknown a form.
The story of the Kittelsen Museum began in 1987 when Nanna and Helge Theodor Kittelsen contacted Blaafarveværket, hoping that we would build a permanent museum for their father. In return, they would donate a number of artefacts which had remained in the family’s possession, such as original carved wooden log chairs, a cabinet, writing table, wastepaper bin and friezes.
King Harald V officially opened the Kittelsen Museum at the Cobalt Mines six years later, on 21 May 1993. Ever since the museum was established, Blaafarveværket has worked to expand the collection with oil paintings, watercolours and drawings. Today the museum houses many of Kittelsen’s main works and masterpieces, such as Bergtrold, Når aspen blør, Trollene på vei til Soria Moria Slot and Dompap.