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The Gran Boathouse (2010)

Internationally renowned and award winning Rachel Whiteread is the artist behind The Gran Boathouse.

Rachel Whiteread (b. 1963)

Whiteread is one of Great Britain’s leading contemporary artists. In 1993 she was the first woman to win the prestigious Turner Prize. Whiteread is considered to be among the Young British Artists, a group which started exhibiting in London in 1988, and which includes Damien Hurst and Tracey Emin. Rachel Whiteread’s sculptures are often casts of everyday objects. Her sculptures are typically casts of “negative space”. The Gran Boathouse is her first work in Norway.

The place

Gran is a municipality in the southern part of the county of Oppland, by the fjord Randsfjorden. 

Rachel Whiteread was asked to make a sculpture in Gran municipality. She had for some time wanted to work with smaller buildings in remote places. Røykenviken in the municipality of Gran was the kind of peaceful location she had been looking for. The boathouse and its interior had the qualities she was after. It represents the history of the place. This sculpture is preserving what would otherwise have been lost.

The sculpture

The Gran Boathouse is located on the waters edge in Røykenvik, Hadeland. From a distance it looks like any other boathouse, but closer inspection reveals that this is a work of art in concrete. The work is a cast of the interior of an old boathouse. Whiteread turns the boathouse inside out thereby capturing a moment in time. In this way she encourages us to reflect on what we see around us.

“I have mummified the air inside the boathouse”, says Rachel Whiteread. “I wanted to make a shy sculpture, a sculpture that would stand there peaceful and nobel”. The boathouse and its interior had all the qualities that she was looking for. It represented the history of place. The sculpture is preserving what would otherwise have been lost. 

Rachel Whiteread is known for her sculptures, which are often casts of everyday objects, everything from bath tubs, boxes, and cabinets to rooms and entire buildings. Her work is characterised by “negative space”. The work is not a cast of the object, but of the empty space inside or under the object.


These are activities that you can do when you visit the sculpture. The activities are suitable for everyone, but are designed especially for children. 

To answer the questions you must explore the sculpture and use your imagination and your senses. There are no right or wrong answers. Discuss with your companions and see if you all agree. 

  1. Study the sculpture carefully. 
  2. The sculpture has been cast from the empty interior space of an old boathouse. 
  3. Do you see the boathouse’s empty interior space, or do you see the boathouse? 
  4. What do you think the old boathouse looked like? 
  5. Why do you think the sculpture has been placed on the water’s edge?
  6. Take a photograph of what you like best about the sculpture. 

Go ahead and share the pictures on Instagram or Facebook with #skulpturstopp


Photo: Sverre Chr. Jarild
Photo: Sverre Chr. Jarild
Photo: Sverre Chr. Jarild
Photo: André Løyning

Rachel Whiteread

Photo: Sverre Chr. Jarild
Photo: André Løyning
Photo: André Løyning