The art project “Broken Column” (popularly known as Rusty Men or Iron men) was completed in 2003 as an installation at 23 different locations in central Stavanger. By visiting the statues you get a great opportunity to walk or cycle in several parts of the city.
What to discover
The rusty men are 195 cm tall statues based on the artist Antony Gormley himself. The statues are made of sand-blasted iron and has developed into a steady rusty surface, as was intended. It is fascinating that they are placed 195 cm above each other (in terms of height above sea level), in a little helter-skelter fashion throughout the city centre. Hence also the title of the artwork, Broken column. It would anyway have been a very tall column, the height of a 12 storey building.
The highest statue above sea level is situated inside the Stavanger Art Museum by the lake of Mosvatnet. The lowest is mostly under water off the islet of Natvigs Minde in the port basin.
The funny thing is to let the statues of the Broken Column concept serve as basis for one or more walking or biking trips in the city. Not all statues are easy to visit. One is placed inside a classroom, another inside a private home. See the map below and make a route that suits you. The statues are identical, so if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. It is rather the concept that fascinates, that the whole artwork appears as a massive pillar – if the statues had been stacked. They are all facing in the same direction, north.
And besides: Here’s a great opportunity to move between the central districts of Mosvatnet, Vestre Platå, the city centre, Våland and Storhaug.
It appears clearly on my pictures that many of the rusty men, have been subjected to abuse in the form of paint. During the first years the municipality worked hard to remove it, but in agreement with the artist that effort is a thing of the past. This may be just fine, because creative minds have actually made some fun out of it – some places.
I do not have photos of all the iron men in the Broken Column project, and I am also short of visiting them all. Note that the accuracy of the location is remarkably precise. I have in the following overview sorted them in the official order, from the lowest placed (No. 00) to the highest (No. 22). The height is the level of the foot sole above sea level.
The images below are clickable, giving you the picture in new tab. At the bottom of the page is a map.
The iron men from 00 to 22
The altitude is -01.49 meters above sea level. Standing at Natvigs Minde, partially submerged in the port basin. Not accessible for most people. This picture is taken from the city and you will have to know where the sculpture is to spot it. You see it on the magnification midway between the white lantern and the promontory.
The altitude is 00.46 meters. Stands in the inner harbour, between Honnørbryggen and the Fish Market.
The altitude is 02.41 meters. The statue stands inside a parking garage on Strandkaien. This site too may be inaccessible because it is a private facility. The picture here is with mobile camera through grilles in the door.
No. 03, The altitude is 04.36 meters. It stood originally inside a shop in Breigata 4. As far as I know is has been removed, and consequently I do not have a picture of it.
The altitude is 06.31 meters. This is found under the hill called Valberget, inside the parking lot or rather the stairway up to Kirkegata. There are probably many who over the years have shrugged when they rounded the stairs and saw this guy right in front of them.
The altitude is 08.26 meters. It is extremely centrally located in the city, Arneageren in front of the Kulturhuset.
The altitude is 10.21 meters. Standing outside Stavanger Cathedral, towards the square, but somewhat discreet under a tree.
The altitude is 12.16 meters. Standing on Kirkegårdsbrua bridge and overlooking the Lagård Cemetery.
The altitude is 14.11 meters. Standing at Haugesund Gata 3, Statoil Service Station. This is where one turns into the tunnel to Hundvåg Bridge.
No. 09, Altitude is 16.06 meters. Standing on the spectator seats inside the Stavanger swimming pool.
The altitude is 18.01 meters. Standing on the steps inside the doors to the courthouse of Stavanger.
The altitude is 19.96 meters. Standing at the intersection of Jens Zetlitz Gate and St. Olav’s Gate.
The altitude is 21.91 meters. Standing at Kjelvene, not far from St. John’s Church (Johanneskirken).
No. 13, The altitude is 23.86 meters. This broken column stands inside the Hetlandsgata 55, in a private home and not to be enjoyed by the public.
The altitude is 25.81 meters. It stands in Musegata, at the bus stop outside Stavanger Museum.
The altitude is 27.76 meters. Standing at Madlaveien, near the Kannik junction.
The altitude is 29.71 meters. Standing in Henrik Steffen Street, at Løkkeveien junction.
No. 17, The altitude is 31.66 meters. Standing at St Svithun school inside classroom 204 and is therefore quite inaccessible. He may, however, on good days be glimpsed through a window to the left of the entrance. I have not yet seen it.
The altitude is 33.61 meters. Standing on the football field Kiellandsmyrå.
The altitude is 35.56 meters. Standing on Lars Hertervig’s Square not far from Bjergsted.
The altitude is 37.51 meters. Standing in the schoolyard at Solvang School, where there is now a kindergarten.
The altitude is 39.46 meters. Standing in Mosvannspark between Madlaveien and Eiganesveien.
The altitude is 41.41 meters. It is standing inside the Stavanger Art Museum. Feel free to buy a ticket and have a look at the other exhibitions once you are here.
Practical information about the Broken Column
In the map below you will find the statues placed on a map. It is possible to zoom in and out, move it and click on the markers for information and a picture. The map can be enlarged to full screen (in Google Maps).
Note that I have added a proposal for a bike route (8 km) from Mosvatnet to the eastern borough. The statues in the centre are presented as a walking route of 2 km. A couple of the statues are excluded from these routes, but they are placed on the map, pretty detailed when zoomed.
Stavanger has other artwork as well. Have a look at the article about Street art.