Vanessa Baird, "The Ocean"

Vanessa Baird has decorated The Gallery, the hall outside The Gymnasium on the third floor. 

Vanessa Baird (born 1963) studied at the Norwegian National Academy of Craft and Art Industry from 1982 to 1985, and has an MA from the Royal College of Art in London. She works primarily with drawing and painting on paper, both in small and large formats. Her work is often executed in bright, harmonious tones and nuances, but with a dark and disturbing undertone in highly detailed, surrealistic fairy-tale worlds. Baird won Klassekampens Kulturpris or Nesehornet (Rhino Horn) prize in 2013 and was awarded the Lorck Schive Art Prize in 2015.

At Sentralen, Baird has chosen to paint a mural in the foyer outside the gymnasium. The image has been painted directly on to the wall between the windows and is approximately 10 metres long.

Baird has depicted the sea with the horizon just above the windows and a sandy beach down at floor level. People and life belts can be seen floating in the water. Various personal belongings have been washed up on the beach: suitcases, shoes, jewellery and mobile phones. A few people are warming themselves around a camp fire and a girl is looking out to sea at some swimmers moving towards the beach –  as well as us, the spectators, as we view the work. The mural creates strong associations with the enormous tragedy being played out in the Mediterranean, again and again, with people risking their lives as they flee from the war in Syria.

In the middle of the work are some lines from a poem by Auden:

The stars are not wanted

put out every one,

Pack up the moon and,

dismantle the sun,

pour away the ocean and

sweep up the wood

For nothing now can ever come to

any good.

W.H. Auden 1936