the sculpture of Blågårds Plads
At intervals around the retaining wall of the sunken area of the square and at the corners are sculptures, 22 in all, that are carved in granite and depict working men and women with small children - toddlers barely more than babies.
The adult figures are incredible, bent almost double, in effect sitting on the retaining wall and facing into the square, mostly occupied by their trades - one figure making a barrel, another with a carpenter’s plane and another wearing a heavy apron and removing a nail from a horseshoe so clearly a blacksmith. One plays an accordion. Each adult figure has a single child clinging to them or crawling over them and it is not clear if the adult workers are teaching the children or are being distracted and annoyed by them. Only in the figures of a woman showing a child a large fish she is holding and another woman who is clasping a child to her, possibly breast feeding, is there any real sense of engagement. At the corners of the sunken area are steps down for access to the lower area and these are flanked by large rounded boulder-shaped groups with more children but playing alone and more vigorously portrayed. One group, on one side of a broader double flight of steps at the centre of one side, the side with the church, has the toddlers hugging or holding a group of small owls. This is strong, intense public art and well worth seeking out.
The Cityscape Atlas of Copenhagen published in 2003 describes the square as “the heart of this quarter and among the best designed urban spaces in Copenhagen.”
The open square and some of the buildings around the square date from the early 20th century - just before the First World War - and is the work of the architect Ivar Bentsen who went on, in 1921, to found The Danish Institute of Town Planning - and that was also the year he designed the Bakkehusene row houses which were the first terraced houses for the working class to be built by the Copenhagen Public Housing Association. In 1923 he was appointed as a Professor at the School of Architecture.
The sculptures were by Kai Nielsen who was then about 30 and tragically died just a few years later.