Art at Fire Stations

Artists: Edith Lundebrekke (exterior) 2012–2015 Marius Amdam (interior). Title: ‘Brannmannsdrømmer’ 2013/14. Art consultant: Helga Bøe.

Edith Lundebrekke has given life and character to the façades of each of the four new fire stations in Trondheim. Large paintings by another local artist, Marius Amdam, make their mark on the stations’ interiors. Architect’s office Link Arkitektur has made the blueprint for all four stations, with Gunnar Næss as lead architect. As the client, Trondheim municipality has emphasised that the stations should reflect Trondheim’s profile as a town with mainly wooden buildings. The fire stations may differ in size and layout, but in her work with the exteriors, Edith Lundebrekke has contributed to each one clearly distinguishing itself from the others. The main station at Sluppen has red as its main colour, Sentrum station at Nyhavna is dominated by the colour blue. A bright green colour gives Sandmoen station it's character, whereas Ranheim station has a yellow colour scheme. The stations’ exterior walls are wood panelling, with colour insets between the natural coloured wooden slats on top. This means the colour is clearly visible from a 90 degree angle and fades away gradually as the viewing angle changes. Thus, the slats add life and movement to the walls, and the façades change as you walk or drive past. The light also contributes to changes in the surfaces. Wooden slats have become a trademark for artist Edith Lundebrekke, who is native to Trondheim and previously worked mainly with textiles. Coloured slats with similar optical changes have featured in her commissions for St. Olavs Hospital, the Norwegian Embassy in Berlin and in the government’s official residence complex in Oslo. With the fire stations, Lundebrekke has even made her mark on the façades with a horizontal border on either side of the station’s name and the Trøndelag fire and rescue services’ emblem. The border is inspired by the chequered stripes used by the fire brigade, the police and the ambulance services alike, and is built up of groups of five vertical slats forming squares against a dark-stained wall.

In addition to the exterior, the art project encompasses contributions to the interiors by Marius Amdam: one large-scale painting at the main station, and three smaller ones for the other three stations. Together, the paintings make up a whole, as elements from the large painting are repeated in the other paintings.
A child’s ideas about fire, fire brigades and the fire fighter’s life are the starting point for the four paintings, which together tell a story, but also speak volumes as stand-alone works. In this dream-like fantasy, cowboys and Indians appear in a lively world that for many will be easily recognisable from their own childhood and early memories. Marius Amdam was one of a number of artists who were asked to submit propositions for the public art commissions at the new fire stations. In the spring of 2012, he presented a sketch featuring a number of figures, situations and elements that he wanted to incorporate into four paintings, one for each station. The proposition was well received by the art committee, in which the stations’ future users, Trøndelag fire and rescue services, naturally were represented. Following a final round against one other artist, Marius Amdam won the commission.
The paintings feature both the traditional red fire engines and the yellow ones used today. Details depicting the tasks of chimneysweeps have been added, now that this profession has been reinstated under the fire brigade. The architecture in the images is of a generic urban character, making them not specific to Trondheim. The new stations are not included as such, but traces of them are present in painted strips of colour referring to Edith Lundebrekke’s exterior work.