‘Ormet’ is part snake, cat and dragon. Its origin is the Icelandic Edda; the story of how the giant Loki was punished for the murder of Balder. Loki was tied to a rock and suffered from a serpents dripping poison. His wife Sigyn collected the poison in a bowl, but each time it had to be emptied Loki got it on his skin. He trembled which resulted in an earthquake.
In Kungsparken in Malmö, the bronze head is sticking out from the cave, and the water drips slowly down from the snakes tongue. The drops fall on a large block made of diabase with a carved bowl in the center. Like it has been hollowed out by water drops. Some water evaporates, the rest flows over the rim of the bowl. The drop falls from a few meters height and once it hits the water, it is a somewhat dramatic event.
The backdrop consists of the cave’s interior painted in dark shades of blue on structured concrete. The structure makes the surface rough, it’s consistent with the irregularity of the granite. That, along with the dark colours, creates a special space; it feels bigger, deeper.
There used to be a well inside the cave. It was built in the late 1800s in one of Malmö’s first and most magnificent parks; Kungsparken. It resonated with the romantic style of the park and its British influences. The cave is not very cave-like, it is small, not at all deep; just a couple of meters. It was built of brick, its interior wall was trimmed and the opening framed by an arch, made by large granite blocks.
Eventually the large drinking fountain was replaced with a smaller, sleeker one of cast iron and the manual pump was replaced by the pressure from the water system. The cave was a popular place to gather in Malmö. For some reason the drinking fountain disappeared. Since then, the cave stood deserted, empty and unused for the last 20 years.
In order to stop water leakage through the brick structure all the bricks were taken down and the cave was looking alright just in time for the housing fair ’Bo86’. The result was a cave that had little resemblance of what it once was; painted white and with raised floor (to get rid of the water that got stuck inside) and a vault that looked fake and with wide concrete joints between the stones. The cave was clean and decent, but hardly an exciting place anymore.
The plans for the cave’s new design emerged during the next year. The cave’s history was not documented, all sorts of drawings were missing. The planning had to be based on our discoveries and guesses about the cave’s original construction.
The assembly of the snakes head, painting and stonework was a two and a half weeks long operation filled with surprises, almost something of a spectacle and drama for all park visitors passing by.
It turned out that under the existing floor there was another old brick floor, set in concrete and which in turn rested on a completely rusty iron construction. In it was a 6 meters deep well filled with water. It was very exciting to dig through all the cultural layers, an archaeological exploration and a link with the site’s history.
Much of the detailed design of the stone work was decided on the spot. Like the stones in a Japanese garden the stone blocks were individually tailored for the harmony of the whole. The head, a sculpture in itself, interacts with and is itself part of the total sculpture. The site is complete with its light; a strong spotlights shining on the area where the drop falls. The wave motion casts exiting shadows on the concrete wall.
The wide joints between the vault stones was planted with moss, and supplementary plantings around the cave was added, so that the cave one day will be completely embedded in greenery.