The genius of Høng

Høng, a small town on the western side of Zealand, here Pontus Kjerrman made a public work during the first half of 1996. This was before a parking lot, with no room for imagination. The new site is partially surrounded by an 85 cm. high wall with an opening bordered by a cat on one side and a horse on the other side. They are both made of bronze and remind a lot of the drinking fountains in the decoration that Pontus Kjerrman did in Køge.

Against one side of the wall stands a roughly hewn granite rock with a sitting bronze cat on it. In its arms, the cat holds a large fish that squirts water.

There is also an angel on a red granite pillar at the site, and it is this angel that appears to be the most prominent. Pontus Kjerrman has written a few lines about this under the heading “Why an angel to Høng?”:

When I saw the place for the first time, I wanted to look up at the sky, to activate a point a little above the square. (…) I could imagine making a protective spirit for Høng or a symbol for initiative.

He then refers, as the art history expert he is, to the Genius Loci of antiquity – the protective spirit that every ancient Roman city had.

There is also a low wall around the site, which separates the site from the surroundings, but which still allows access. There are also some benches so you can sit there and philosophize a little…

The inauguration took place on 29 June, when both the mayor and the landscape architect as well as Pontus Kjerrman spoke. A part of Pontus Kjerrman’s speech follows here:

“People who meet a work of art will always be able to form their own idea of what a work means. I want to talk about the thoughts I had before me during the work with this square.

As a sculptor, it is challenging to perform sculpture in a public environment, where many and especially many different people meet them, and it is even more challenging when you get the opportunity to help design a completely new space. It has also been very exciting to be able to design the square together with architect Kirsten Lund Andersen and her  studio. Here, there are no houses that frame the square, so it has been exciting to let a large part of the story take place in the wall that forms the frame around the square.

Around the opening in the wall, two mythical creatures form a gate, the horse, a boy, and the cat, a girl, watch over the gate, they also watch over each other and look longingly at each other.

A few years ago I was in Trankebar in South India, which was a Danish trade station from 1620-1830. I was there to take part in the restoration of a city gate from 1792 in a rich baroque style filled with symbols of power, wealth and prosperity which a trading station represents, i.a. cornucopia, which is a symbol of the goddess of fortune, Fortuna, who is also the city’s protector.

In the wall here in Høng, there is a boulder where there is also a cornucopia in the shape of a fish – a fish of abundance – which is held tightly by a lioness. When I started the assignment, I became interested in Høng’s town coat of arms, which I was told is not very old, but the lion has its origin in the town name Løve(danish: Lion). Now this is not a manly lion, but a lioness I have designed. She has caught the wealth in the form of the fish, it is an angry fish, the wealth does not allow itself to be caught voluntarily. The lioness looks questioningly up to the sky, because it is not enough to own the wealth, you also have to manage it so that it can bring joy to the owner as well as to others. Then the lioness sees the angel. In ancient mythology, they spoke of a genius – a guardian angel. Every man and every city had its own genius. I call Høng’s guardian angel the genius of Action, a symbol of inspiration. It is also a sign of wealth that people have taken the initiative for such a place here.

It is something of a puzzle to carry out a task of this kind, I see myself as a small piece in the game, which would not have become what it is without all the good craftsmen, including the stonemason Mogens Schannong and helpers, the bronze caster Leif Jensen and plumber John Lund Andersen.

I hope that the city will enjoy the space, I can feel for myself that the sculptures thrive where they are.”

Høng 29 June 1996

Pontus Kjerrman