Bjørn Nørgaard, 1999
About the work
Next to Vejle Railway Station’s entrance is the sculpture Himmelstigen - Jacobs drøm (Ladder to Heaven - Jacob’s Dream).
The sculpture was erected in 1998/99 on the inauguration of the new railway station building and was financed by DSB Bygningstjeneste. It is created by Bjørn Nørgaard, in collaboration with Poul Hansen Stenhuggeri ApS., Bronzestøberiet Leif Jensen ApS., And H. Christiansen Kobbersmedie.
The sculpture consists of a monumental granite stele which is 9 metres high and 2 metres wide. The stone is in the middle of a very flat basin, where water usually trickles around the sculpture.
The shape of the stone itself refers to ancient steles in Egypt – there are Egyptian signs or hieroglyph-like signs in and on the sculpture. A figure in one of the lower corners is inspired by the sculptor Michelangelo’s (1475 -1564) sculpture Atlas Slave. Elsewhere, the imagery is more modern, and you can find i.a. a suitcase, as a reference to travel by train.
The location in front of the train station relates the sculpture to the concept of travel. The number twelve is repeated on the Ladder to Heaven, as a reference to the twelve zodiac signs and the twelve disciples. One side tells the story of Jesus’ 12 disciples sitting at the sacrament table. On the other side, the same disciples are seen travelling the world to spread the Christian message.
In the gate of the stone is a poem which reads:
It’s called the Ladder to Heaven,
Our dream of paradise
And a better prettier
Life on earth
The inspiration for the Ladder to Heaven is a story in the Old Testament, where Jacob, during a journey in the desert, in a dream saw a ladder or stairway that stretched up to Heaven. God’s angels could travel up and down. The sculpture contains many other types of stairs or ladders that may be a symbol of spiritual or religious pursuit.
About the artist
Bjørn Nørgaard was born in 1947 in Copenhagen, and grew up in a socialist workers’ home, where music, literature and visual arts were considered core values in society. In 1964 he followed the Experimental Art School (Eks-skolen), which at this time was run by the art historian Troels Andersen and the artists Poul Gernes and Per Kirkeby, among others. In 1966, Bjørn Nørgaard met the German artist and professor Joseph Beuys (1921-86), who inspired Bjørn Nørgaard to continue working with unconventional materials such as plaster, cardboard, steel wire and everyday objects. Bjørn Nørgaard performed group actions, happenings and generally worked across all common art traditions. He is also known for his work with the Queen’s tapestries.
The sculpture guide provides you with an overview on some of the sculptures there is to be found in Vejle. Go for a walk downtown and experience the art.See more