On the north side: photos from a morning walk

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I’m still experimenting with the camera in my new FairPhone. I took all the photos here with the phone during a walk this morning along the north side of the Göta Älv as it runs through Gothenburg. The camera’s not perfect, but pretty good. Good enough for the web certainly.

On the north side

This area was once the shipbuilding and import/export heart of the city. Now trade has moved out to the deeper waters of the container port. Ship building died here, as elsewhere, in the last quarter of the 20th century. The empty space it left behind is slowly filling up with other things. New residential districts, light industry and high-tech, schools and offices. An open air public baths with a strange beast in scrap metal that houses a public sauna.

The public sauna on the north side
Public sauna
Viking moored at the Free Harbour for refurbishment
Refitting Viking

Viking in the Free Harbour

The old Free Harbour is a convenient wharf for Viking, undergoing refurbishment. Viking is a four masted steel barque, built in Copenhagen in 1906. Under non-Covid circumstances she is a floating hotel in Gothenburg harbour. Originally built as a training ship for the Danish merchant marine, she took part in the great grain races that ran in the first half of the 20th century. Tall ships racing to bring the wheat harvest back to Europe from Australia as fast as they could.

Sailing under the Finnish flag in 1938-39, Viking is mentioned by Eric Newby in The Last Grain Race, his account of sailing as a crewman on another four masted steel barque, the Moshulu. Although the 38-39 race was the last before the Second World War, two grain races took place after the war and Viking won the first in 1946. She completed the voyage from Port Victoria in South Australia to London in 93 days.

Viking came to Gothenburg in 1950.

Political commentary: Baby Trump - graffiti on a skate ramp on the north side
Political commentary – graffiti on a skate ramp
The morning sun catches the building cranes clustered about the core of Serneke's Karlatornet
Serneke’s Karlatornet

Karlatornet building in Karlstaden

Building work is continuous all along the north bank of the river. Under construction by Serneke, Karlatornet – The Charles Tower – is destined to be the tallest building in Sweden. Serneke were planning to have it finished by next year, but during Corona-time last year nothing much seemed to be happening. (In February, the founder, Ola Serneke got caught publishing dubious social media posts under a pseudonym and had to step back from managing the company.) This spring, though, the tower has had a growth spurt and started to put on floors again.

Karlatornet is planned to be the tallest and most dominant structure of nine on the Karlastaden (Charles City) complex. I can’t say I’m enthusiastic. Apart from anything else, when completed it will loom over the top of Ramberget and spoil our view of the sky from the other side. I’m contemplating setting up a telescopic camera on the mountain and live-streaming the view of life behind rich people’s windows. A real reality show perhaps. But probably most of the space will end up unsold and the whole thing will become another erection to the memory of capitalism, before it sinks below the waters of the rising sea.

Across the road from the tower, waste ground is being prepared for more building. I came across this pile of grubbed up tree stumps.

A pile of grubbed up tree stumps echo in shape the slopes of Ramberget seen behind
Pile of grubbed up tree stumps echo the slopes of Ramberget
On the north side: a detail photo of a tree stump in the pile of grubbed up tree stumps
Tree stump detail

North side birds and demon sculptures

Nearly home, there’s a footbridge over a main road and the rail spur out to Gothenburg harbour. I cross this bridge every so often. On either side of the rail tracks there’s a stretch of waste land. The other day, looking down from the bridge as I crossed, I saw a man wearing an industrial visor and wielding a power-tool. It looked like he was grinding something, or maybe cutting with a small chainsaw. I assumed it was maintenance related to the bridge.

When I crossed the bridge again a few days later, though, I saw what seemed to be sculptures in process of creation. This morning I thought I could visit them, if they were still there, and see what they really were.

What they really were turned out to be wings, birds, and the savagely sculpted heads of angels or demons.

Sculpture of a bird with an orange beak, maybe a toucan.
Maybe a toucan?
The bust of a man, chopped savagely from wood and apparently burned. Could this be Lucifer?
Lucifer perhaps, chopped about and burned.
Sculpture of a purple raven, or a crow perhaps
A purple raven, or a crow perhaps.
A white head with a big nose and pendulous lower lip. If this is an angel, it may be one that has fallen.
This white head seems disembodied.
The white head and its wings, not yet attached.
Perhaps the Archangel Michael in process of assembly.
On the north side: The collection of sculptures below the footbridge.
The sculptures below the footbridge.

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