The kindness of strangers, Jens Galschiøts, and Danny Kaye’s house.

Odense has much going for it, though I knew nothing of the place before this tour.

I started the day heading to Jens Galschiøt’s studio. This might come across like I knew what I doing, like I’m some kind of contemporary art aficionado, but I’m discovering this stuff as I go. Anyway, I SatNav a route and it throws up that I can’t avoid an environmental zone. Okay, I thought, I’ll get as close as I can and ride or walk from there, but I hit the zone sooner than expected.

I pull over into a residential area and stop in a cul-de-sac to google information on the restrictions. A car pulls up behind me, the driver gets out and walks around the van. I expect someone who is going to be pissed off for some reason, and slid open my window, but the guy came to my side and said “Camper, we had one, you can turn around in our road, where are you going?” I said I was going to Galschiøt’s studio.”

“Oh, you’re completely in the wrong place for that.”

I explained that I’d pulled over to check I wasn’t contravening the environmental restrictions. He said the van would be fine and went on to say his daughter was a scientist working in Leeds, and had a British boyfriend. While we’re talking, his wife got out of the car and trotted across the road to, I assume, their house.

The guy, who was probably around my age, and who I told I had Galshiot’s studio in my SatNav, said, “You’ll enjoy the studio, he’s a friend of mine. I’m sorry, but we’re heading somewhere and my wife’s in a hurry, otherwise I’d invite you in for a coffee.”

I thanked him for his kindness, turned around, and set off for the studio, feeling quite emotional that someone took the trouble to reach out. He was a lovely guy, I’d have loved to have that coffee, but I raise a toast to a wonderful couple and wish them well. It’s Karma to be passed on.

I get to Jens Galschiot’s studio, park up and wander in. It is the working, industrial, space of an internationally reknowned artist, and he has an open door policy. And he was there. He came up for a chat, and talked about his work. Awesome.

He asked what I did and I said that I had run arts venues in the UK before I retired, and he said “So we’re colleagues then.” I didn’t want to disabuse him about my humble efforts but enjoyed hearing about his latest project on fundamentalism. He’s politically active and it was invigorating to feel that energy.

Astonishing stuff. There are 54 people employed by his studio, and he has exhibitions lined up for New York. He showed me his galvanising tank, the biggest in any studio in Europe, as is his workshop, he said. His work is formed in wax, cast, then galvanised. I was an instant fan of his work and politics.

I parked nearby and cycled into Odense. It’s a city spanking it’s relationship with Danny Kaye – sorry, Hans Christian Andersen (those of a certain age will understand!).

Danny Kaye’s house

Identify the story.
One of the many events as part of the HCA festival.

The Brandt Gallery had an exhibition of Hergé’s work. I’ve always loved Tintin and couldn’t include the Hergé gallery in my route through Belgium, so it was good to get an insight Georges Remi, Hergé.

Hergé by Warhol

Hergé wrote 24 Tintin books

So, a great day in a great Danish city, a few other images to round off.

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