The iconic symbol of Denmark

The iconic symbol of Denmark, the Little Mermaid, has acquired a sculpted brother in the northern capital of scotland – Helsingør.

For years, Denmark continues to be symbolised by the statue of Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid. The sculpture, found on Langelinie in Copenhagen, has spent nearly 100 years looking wistfully for the sea. She’s endured beheadings, vandalism and even an attempt to blow her up, but remains steadfast at her post, attracting tourists from all around the globe.

The Little Mermaid, however, has just gotten some competition up north. A brand new sculpture, bearing an uncanny resemblance towards the Little Mermaid, although male and possessing two good legs, has been unveiled within the capital of scotland – Helsingør, that is famous to be the house of Kronborg Castle, the setting of Shakespeare's Hamlet.

'He' is Revealed

Denmark's latest harbour sculpture has been several years within the planning. Referred to as 'Han' (or simply 'He'), the 3 million kroner statue is responsible for a lot of controversy in Helsingør, and not just over your buck, which the municipality has forked over 770,000 kroner, however the subject material.

Objections have ranged from its similarity to its famous sister in Copenhagen, the truth that he’s a naked young lad, and his material – shiny stainless reflecting the sky, water and nearby buildings, as well as his admirers.

Despite these objections, plans to build the sculpture went ahead and Han took his place by the Helsingør harbour in a fanfare of media coverage on 2 June 2012. Present in the unveiling were Danish Culture Secretary Uffe Elbæk, Helsingør Mayor John Hecht-Nielsen and Culture Committee Chairman Malene Carmel. The event also attracted many curious townspeople and tourists who were treated to a number of speeches and lightweight refreshments as well as the unveiling of Denmark's latest work of public art.

Helsingør's Han and Culture Yard

Han was created by artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset. Based in London and Berlin, the artistic duo is becoming well known previously years, particularly for their installation in the fourth plinth of Trafalgar Square in London entitled 'Powerless Structures Fig. 101'. The 4 meter high sculpture of a boy astride a rocking horse, known colloquially as 'Rocking Horse Boy' has been referred to as a 'sensitive and fragile creature' unlike the greater imposing statues of kings and warriors surrounding the square.

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    The Han sculpture in Helsingør is comparable in theme to Rocking Horse Boy, although much smaller in scale. Young, fragile, sensitive and naked, Han also seems a powerless creature because he gazes dreamily towards the water, his pose mimicking that of his sister, the Little Mermaid, although without her fins.

    Han is really a thoroughly modern lad, however, made of highly polished stainless steel so he reflects the numerous moods of his surroundings, including the ones from the people who arrived at visit him. His gaze is just not to the ocean, but to nearby Kronborg Castle, Helsingør's most well-known landmark.

    The sculpture of Han is a component of an effort to revitalise the region around Kronborg Castle, since it became a World Heritage site in 2000. The castle itself has undergone a facelift both inside and out as well as an ambitious project nearby, referred to as 'Culture Yard', is well underway, with an old factory building transformed into an exciting and modern facility housing a library, auditorium and museum. The Culture Harbour project is ongoing and also the Helsingør Maritime Museum is expected to maneuver in to the newly revitalised area.

    Meanwhile, the new sculpture has attracted numerous visitors since its unveiling. Whether he will rival his older sister in Copenhagen, however, remains to be seen. For the time being, Han seems content to remain the infant brother.


    Kom og sig velkommen til "Han" den 2. juni, Helsingør Kommune website, accessed 12 July 2012 (in Danish)


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