So why Groningen?

In 1984 (34 years ago!), a date only pinpointed because I saw Against All Odds in the cinema here, and remember hearing Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood everywhere (and seeing those t-shirts) I came to see an actor friend in a show. She was working with a company called Kiss and the show happened in and around a train as it journeyed from Groningen to the coast.

It started at the railway station with a dance piece in the concourse, then scenes were enacted in the carriages as we traveled to a marquee somewhere where the show continued. On the way back, in darkness by this time, more happened inside and outside of the train, with it slowing down as it passed structures built in the landscape, some lit by UV light or using luminous paint. It was a great event, left of field and of its time, when money could be found for exciting arts projects.

As Groningen lies on a route from Holland to Denmark, via Germany, and also has a modern art museum, I thought I’d see if I could remember, or even find, some of the places from my first visit.

I headed for the Groninger Museum as a start. It’s a striking building sitting in a canal, making it look like it’s surrounded by a moat.

Much of the gallery is below water level.

There was a diverse range of work, mostly ‘hang it on a wall’ stuff, but some objects and sculptures. The stand out exhibition was that of David LaChapelle, a photographer who’d worked with Andy Warhol.

The last portrait of Warhol before his death on February 22 1987

Across from the gallery is the railway station from which the show embarked all those years ago.

It is an attractive building in its own right.

After exploring Groningen I could not find anything else that fitted my snapshot memories from so long ago. My overriding impression was of a once attractive town where subsequent planning had managed to obscure its best features, turning it into an anonymous shopping centre. But the gallery was great.

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