The Man from the Sea in Rana
by Torbjørn Aag
Havmannen was created by the British sculptor Antony Gormley, and was revealed on 6 May 1996. It is carved from granite and comprises 9 different parts. It is approx. 11 metres tall, and weighs approx. 60 metric tons!
The sculpture was placed in the water, meant to express the powerful elements influencing the Rana community. Powerful nature and powerful industry, in close proximity. It was hoped this sculpture would contribute to the development of new meeting grounds, and the expansion of Mo i Rana's town centre, with the development of Mobekkleira, played a role in determining where Havmannen would be erected.
Originally, there were plans to make the sculpture out of steel—a nod to Mo i Rana's ore-based steel industry. However, restructuring in the Rana community led to the ore-based steel industry closing down, and the project could not be completed in steel. Suggestions were made to try to complete the sculpture in granite. This would turn out to be Antony Gormley's first large sculpture made of stone. The stone was carved by Lødingen steinindustri, with the assistance of two professional rock carvers from Lithuania. The nine pieces were transported to Rana in the fall of 1994.
Large, underwater foundations were prepared in the winter of 1994/1995. Enormous pillars were necessary to guarantee that the heavy stone sculpture would remain standing in the water. The seabed was quick clay, which necessitated long posts, driven down to firm ground.
Originally, Antony Gormley had wanted the sculpture to be erected even further out to sea, but this turned out not to be possible due to the quick clay on the seabed. The nine pieces were assembled in early April 2002. They were joined by approx. 67 metres of epoxy-coated rebar. Scaffolding had to come down, and a temporary road out to the sculpture had to be removed, while the unveiling ceremony was being planned.
Already at this time, the sculpture had generated a lot of buzz in the community; some were in favour of it, and some were against. Interestingly, more than 300 poems about the Man of the Sea were printed in the local newspaper. Most focused on the sculpture's shape and appearance. On the day of the reveal, approx. 1,100 people were present, and the audience was treated to first performances of both music and choreography dedicated to Havmannen.
Over the years, Havmannen has become part of Mo i Rana's identity. It has inspired the establishment of a culture festival in its honour, Havmanndagene, which takes place in early May every year. A literature award called Havmannprisen is awarded annually, and Havmannplassen, or Man of the Sea Place, was included in the expansion of Mo's town centre. Private businesses and public institutions have incorporated Havmannen in their annual reports and publications, and a sports event for children bears his name.