Bodø Cultural Quarter

The artworks in Bodø’s new Cultural Quarter are inspired by Norwegian folktales about the Ash Lad, who finds creative solutions to all the strange situations he encounters on his journeys. Bodø’s new flagship building also has magical qualities: visitors can enjoy cultural experiences; listen to voices from the town’s recent past; and be serenaded by a large rock.

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  • eventyrsteinen, A K Dolven. Photographer: Thierry Bal
  • Stormen, Kulturkvartalet i Bodø.
  • change my way of seeing seeing is about thinking, av Anne Kathrine Dolven.
  • skrapa komager, av Anne Kathrine Dolven.
  • Bodøstemmer 2014, av Anne Kathrine Dolven.
  • Bodøstemmer 2014, av Anne Kathrine Dolven.
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About the project

About the project

Bodø Cultural Quarter

About the project

At the centre of Bodø’s new Cultural Quarter is a two-building complex known as Stormen. The complex, which had its official opening in November 2014, occupies a former car park in the centre of the town, close to the harbour. Three years of intense construction activity have transformed what was previously a kind of no-man’s-land into an ambitious cultural hub. One building accommodates three theatre/concert venues, while the other houses a modern library, cafés and exhibition spaces. The surrounding streets have been renovated, and there is a new fish market. The construction project has contributed to streamlining and improving the town centre as a whole.

Stormen is one of the largest regional construction projects to be completed in Norway’s cultural sector in recent years. Like Kristiansand’s Kilden centre in southern Norway, Stormen is likely to become a flagship building for northern Norway.

The art committee saw the building of a new cultural centre as an opportunity to commission thought-provoking, daring and innovative art. The committee was also keen for the art to have links with the surrounding area. After an international call-out and prequalification round, followed by an international competition, the committee chose Anne Katrine Dolven’s proposal Jeg fant, jeg fant! – alt er ikke slik du tror det er, ser du [Eureka! – not everything is as you think it is, you see].

The work is in four parts. Firstly, down by the harbour at the end of Storgata, the main shopping street, there is an 18-metre-high sculpture inspired by the lamp-posts found on so many quaysides in northern Norway. Passers-by can illuminate the lamp by treading on a pedal at ground level. This also  causes a sound collage of recordings of people living in Bodø during 2014 to be broadcast from a loudspeaker mounted at the top of the work.

Secondly, in a big open hall inside  Stormen, 272 paintings of identical format  evoke both the landscape of northern Norway and modernist traditions. With only a few exceptions, the paintings are composed from a subdued colour palette, giving the impression that light is coming from within. A 19-ton rock, found by Dolven on the foreshore, sits on the floor underneath the paintings. This staging of the work reminds one of a silent landscape under an open sky.

Thirdly, the atrium of the children’s library houses a granite rock transported from the mountains outside the town. Voices emanating from the rock repeat Sámi sayings and folktales from northern Norway, interspersed by an ancient Sámi joik (a style of Sámi singing).

The fourth and final work, Skrapa komager [Erased Sami boots], hangs in the main library. The work comprises a 100-year-old found photograph that has been enlarged to a size of over 20 square metres, transferred to canvas and installed inside a lightbox. The photograph depicts an elderly couple from Nordland Country. The photograph is remarkable because the area around the man’s feet has been scratched out – presumably because one of the couple’s descendants was trying to erase evidence of Sami ancestry.

All four parts of Dolven’s project involve found elements: found voices, a found lamp-post, found rocks, a found photograph and found stories. These found elements have strong links to the local area and provide Dolven with the means to undertake a poetic investigation of our attitudes to the past, ancestry, culture, light and nature. Just as the Ash Lad constantly redefines the familiar and apparently obvious, viewers are challenged to reconsider received ideas when encountering Dolven’s art.




Storgt. 1b, 8006 Bodø

Date completed


Project manager

Dag Wiersholm, KORO

Art consultant/Art Committee

Arne Rygg
Ellen Sæthre-McGuirk


DRDH Architects Ltd, London

Project manager

Mari Aarre

Building owner/developer


Host representative

Bodø kommune




Accessible by the public


Art scheme for new government-owned buildings





  • 11.10.2010

  • 14.03.2012
    Godkjent kunstplan

  • 05.06.2012
    Invitasjon lukket konkurranse

  • 28.02.2013
    Kontrakt kunstner

  • 14.11.2014

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