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History of art and culture in Odsherred


Photo: Geopark Odsherred

Odsherred has a strong cultural identity, with art, community and a creative urge pushing for Odsherreds development.

In 1841, building of the largest dyke during those times began when adventurous farmers created new farming land out of the Lammefjord. This artistic piece of engineering brought many pioneers to Odsherred where they settled on the new barren lands and where they shaped fruitful livelihoods, farms and vegetables out of what once was the bottom of the fjord.

In 1865, theologist Ernst Trier founded the Folk High School in Vallekilde, a symbol of free spirits and community in the area. Here, the first combined gymnastics- and community hall was established. This place was also the starting point of the Danish gymnastics movement that wanted to break with existing power norms and specifically shaped womens gymnastics in Denmark. Furthermore, the school had a focus on crafts and architecture that spread to the area and across Danmark.

The best example is Annebergaparken, the former psychiatric hospital, build in “Bedre byggeskik”, a special national-romantic architectural style. The hospital was home to the weakest and is a symbol of the dark side life, but also for care and tolerance and the experience that we can all meet each other and that everyone can contribute to community – also those without many resources.

The famous artist Lauritz Hartz who was part of the collective of Odsherred painters was also a patient in the hospital. The area is also home to other artistic collectives, for example Røde Mor [‘red mother’] with Dea Trier Mørk, Tommy Flugt, Ole Finding and Troels Trier. They wanted to make art for the common public. As an early avantgarde this collective moved Odsherred through art, culture and political statements.


Art and culture today

Also today places and art merge, for example when the tunes of the Jazz Festival in Rørvig mix in with the sounds of the waves from the Kattegat or when famous operasingers perform in the cliffs of Klint. In the largest glas exhibition in Northern Europe, the audience can experience delicate chamber music with world class artists every year. And in the annual Geopark Festival, the hidden places and the best views in Odsherreds landscape become locations for sound-poetic performances or small intimate encounters with the locals who open their doors and gardens for audiences and tourists.

And also, today, there is a pioneer spirit in Odsherred. They do it themselves, they just do it. When citizens lacked a gymnastic hall, they build it themselves. When Højby’s hall burned down, it was the citizens who lead the discussions on what the future should bring. The volunteers and active local communities have an enourmous creative urge and shape change in Odsherred.

Maybe one of the key factors is that we are close to each other, we look each other in the eye and meet on the streets, on our jobs, in schools and clubs and on the paths in our nature. We are forced to be ourselves, because we meet in many different settings and cannot hide or masquerade as many people do in the big cities. Therefore, community is easy, and we also have a lot of space. 

This also attracts artists and professionals today, such as the theatre of Odsherred, cultural centres in Vig, Asnæs and Nykøbing, Hempel Glass Museum, and the many small and large festivals in Odsherred. But what is unique about Odsherred is that many of the big events are startet by grass-root people. Hipsters, nerds and passionate people that moved to Odsherred and used their love and stories to set things in motion anew. A good example is the artist-collective 8B that met with the engaged community of Annebergparken and ignited the idea that now manifests with the project: 17 Goals in My Head.

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