Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Wooden Wonderland of Nimis (Arild, Sweden)

Like a rustic treasure-hunt or a tale from Middle Earth, enthusiasts track the bright yellow “N” markers painted on trees from the tiny pastel-coloured fishing of Arild. With no official signs and a bit of a scramble down rough rocky stone stairs, this short trek in Sweden’s south-west has a real feeling of adventure. But the prize at the end makes the rough path worthwhile – a chance to explore Sweden’s most infamous sculpture.

Eccentric arts professor, Lars Vilks, constructed a grand driftwood and dry branch structure of towers, pathways and tunnels called Nimis.

Scrambling around this giant wooden playground, people enjoy a bizarre sculpture on a wonderfully peaceful peninsula of verdant green forests, chilly water and natural reserve - in sharp contrast to the decade long court battles and arguments with the Swedish authorities to have the construction torn down. Whatever the official position, crawling and walking around and over the remarkable construction site is entertaining and eye-opening with several groups enjoying picnics on the dark, sandy shores.

The highlight is a climb up the fifteen metre Tower of the Winds (one of several climbable towers), an impressive freestanding tower on the water’s edge. While feeling a little rickety, many make there way up this main tower while others look nervously below.

Some years alter, Vilks added a second sculpture. This time Vilks built a concrete and rock based artwork called Arx, which is supposedly a stone book (each page being part of the overall monument) but it doesn’t share the same fascination as Nimis. Page numbers litter the dissolving sandcastle-like structure with the tome weighing in at a hefty 352 pages but the reader needs to move to access each “page”.

Going to absurd levels to protect his artwork and to fight for the sculptures’ very existence, Vilks created and declared the micronation of Ladonia with a flag, motto and a shopping list of strange ministries (including the Ministries of Deeper Mysteries, Procrastination, Folktales and Postcards). Anyone keen on “citizenship” (there are around 15,000 such folks) can apply for free at the micronation of Ladonia’s website, though obtaining a ministry is chargeable.

Three thousand excited Pakistanis keen to leave their country applied for citizenship of Ladonia and sought its nearest embassy, to find a disappointing result that no-one actually lives in Ladonia.

Returning to Arild, lunch can be a truly Swedish affair with a range of the freshest seafood and seasonal berry drinks from the local fishing co-operative. Try the bright purple, richly flavoured elderberry juice.

There has always been a thought that some of the most eccentric and most tortured souls have produced some of the world’s finest artworks and music. While Vilks and Nimis hardly rate in that category, it is an extraordinary travel wonder that melds into the natural beauty of this tiny Swedish peninsula.

Other Swedish Posts
The Viking Stonehenge (Kåseberga, Sweden)
The Seventeenth Century Titanic (Stockholm, Sweden)

Travel Tips on raveable


sewa mobil said...

Amazing place. I will be there next year for vacation. Thanks for the information

Donna Hull said...

What an other worldly wooden sculpture. The artistic mind is amazing, especially this one in Sweden.

Kirsty Wilson said...

I've never heard of this 'travel wonder' before! What an unusual place. Thanks for the post which has introduced me to something new our wonderful world has hidden away in Sweden - I love learning about new places! :-)

Heather on her travels said...

That really sounds an amazing play - I love these quirqy expressions of the artist that form part of the landscape and a reason for people to go there

Barbara Weibel said...

How interesting. I wonder how sturdy it is. Couldn't imagine having something like this in the U.S. because everyone would be freaked out about liability.

nomadic matt said...

i would play on this in a heart beat.

David Jr said...

Oh wow... Amazing! It looks like it can crumble anytime, then again a real wonder!

David @ Malaysia Asia

Sherry Ott said...

it looks other worldly! did you climb up to the top?!

Mark H said...

@sewa mobil: Check Nimis out.

@donna: It is a real surprise.

@kirsty: I hope that you get to climb on Nimis one day.

@heather: I think it has been helped by the authorities ham-fisted attempts to get rid of it, making it more popular.

Mark H said...

@barbara: I suspect it would be shut down in Australia too. I like the fact that it is just left alone as it is for people to make their own judgements.

@nomadic matt: The kid in me came out to. I climbed the towers and walked the tunnels.

@david: It is sturdier than you think though the towers feel a little shaky.

@sherry: I wouldn't have missed a climb to the top for the world. You sit a little above the complex though it felt a little unsteady to me.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic. I had heard about the micronation, but not the art work. Now I understand the motiation for a micronation as I can only imagine what the neighbours may have initally thought.Thanks for the beautifully written and informative post.

Australian Visa said...

Just have bookmarked your website, and waiting for the next interesting article.

Mark H said...

@anonymous: Thank you

@australian visa: Thank you.

Sewa Mobil said...

wow, that is some nice place, and wow again

Mark H said...

@sewa mobil: A most bizarre place in a beautiful woodland beach setting.

Anonymous said...

Really great article with very interesting information. You might want to follow up to this topic!?! 2011

New Delhi Hotels said...

Very beautiful blog. Your collection is very beautiful, either "The Seventeenth Century Titanic" or "Top Ten Hidden Travel Wonders of Paris". This post is really fantastic. Great wood work. Thanks a lot.

Mark H said...

@new delhi hotels: Thank you - Nimis is most unusual and very special as are the other places you mentioned.

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