April 30, 2014

Polar Bears

I found this picture in my files from this spring - adorable polar bears in porcelain by artist Anna-Sofia Mååg, who exhibited at the Art Gallery at the Culture House in Luleå in January. I was very, very tempted to get one!

She also had some horses on exhibition, some pots and paintings. Everything had a very dreamy character, I thought, everything seemed as if surrounded by mist. Almost transparent, in a way. The polar bears may, of course, not have much time left, likely as they are to drown when the ice melts from the global warming. I don´t know if this was on Mååg´s mind, but it is what she makes me think about.

April 24, 2014

Easter Sunday Adventure

The Easter holiday has been wonderful. The weather was smashing (still is) and the mum-in-law, who is poorly again, got home from hospital on the Ash Wednesday and stayed home until Tuesday, when she had to be rushed back. She has had two visits from grand-children with their families, and we have taken her on an outing, a visit to her nephew who lives in the house where she once grew up. If it tired her, we didn´t notice, as she was talking, talking, talking from the minute she got into the car (it is a two-hour drive, one direction) to the minute we were back home again.

Sunday we decided to go to a local nature reserve, Bälingeberget (= Bälinge mountain). It is a favourite place of ours, but we haven´t been for years, sadly. I don´t have any photos from there since June 2009 (and I always bring the camera), and it´s just horrid how fast time has gone since then. We have been talking a lot about this, how we all too seldom go out into the woodlands, and how much we really need it. Ridiculous, really, as we live next door to some of the most beautiful forests in the world!

A view to the north, over Luleå River.

This mountain was once a small island rising from the sea as the inland ice was melting away, and you can see the pebbly beaches on the top, how the sea storms have shaped the shoreline. It was even more evident now, since the snow hasn´t entirely melted away, particularly on the northern side where you go up, making the terrain a bit hard to go through. The path had turned into a spring brook, and the snow patches were often thigh-deep. The driest way was across the pebble field, which I usually avoid on account of it being rather hot out there in summer. Walking across it gave the ankles quite a workout!

Some of the lichen and moss that grow on the pebble field.

There are several picnic areas, with firewood and toilets. They have taken the trash bins away, as they attracted the animals, and I have to say, guests seem very good at cleaning up after themselves. Though of course, it´s early spring and I suppose the real invasion hasn´t started yet. We got out late in the day, as usual; when we got there, sometime between one and two, there were about eight or so cars on the parking lot, and when we came down at about seven, we were alone.

I brought my first ever Moleskine notebook, as I am intending to draw more. I have a different approach to drawing now, I think, than I used to have. I am more after the impression of the place, than what it actually looks like - I have the camera for that, I suppose. I am very much trying different things, and looking at what others are doing. Today I came across David Hockney´s Ipad drawings of Yorkshire in spring, and how that inspires me! Not that I would even attempt to draw like that, but it is his attitude towards his subject that I´m after. Amazing. We are planning a trip to Yorkshire this summer, and now I long for it even more!

April 22, 2014

Newspaper Blackout Poems

I think this is really cool.


There was one exhibition at the Art Gallery last month that I did not care much about. It was Dan Perrin´s drawings and paintings. The programme states that "Dan Perrin´s art has a peacefully threatening doomsday mood, spun with a good dose of humour" (my quick and dirty translation). He has a website, where you can see more of his art.

I´m not sure why I don´t warm up to this and why I can´t get to the content of the images. Perhaps it´s the bad finish that intercepts my view  - being a bit of a craftsperson myself, I like finished edges and things made to last; even when I´m sloppy there are limits to how sloppy I can bear to be, and I would certainly choose another place to be sloppy in than the Art Gallery. But then I think, perhaps the sloppyness is part of the artistical statement? That´s certainly a possibility, that he is consciously provoking me, particularly since he was sharing the Art Gallery last month with near-perfectionists like Gudrun Söderholm and Roland Borén. I don´t know. I do know I have been thinking quite a bit about art and presentation lately, and how it might be a good thing to be a bit more "quick and dirty" some of the time. What do you think?

On Our Yard Right Now

April 20, 2014

Cubist Sculpture

Roland Borén is a sculptor and painter who makes things with odd perspectives, both amusing and slightly worrying. In a local newspaper he said that he is "researching the cube shape". I particularly like those Metropolis-like creations, they could have been part of Fritz Lang´s movie set, I think. Oh, I just saw now that they are titled, guess what: "MTRPLS nr 1" and "MTRPLS nr 7".

He exhibited last month in the Art Gallery at the Culture House and I went to see him twice. I did not disrespect the artwork, he actually invites people to "please have a seat!" in his wonky aluminium chair.

He has a great website where you can see more of his work. I do appreciate this kind of thing, I have not a small amount of nostalgia for the kind of hands-on industrialism that I grew up with; with a self-employed engineer father I have many tactile, emotional links to iron of different shapes and forms.

Full of cobwebs from the rusting process; no doubt years and years out of doors.


April 18, 2014

Bitching about Mechanics

This cracked me up; it´s a photograph by Camilla Hällgren of Little Sweden Art, titled "They kept bitching about the laws of mechanics. He couldn´t care less." Love it! (From the collection of art purchases of Luleå municipality 2013.)

April 16, 2014

Motherhood in Art - Education of the Virgin

Every year, Luleå municipality buys art for 200.000 SEK and places it in different public places and offices. Every year, the art is hung in the Art Gallery for a month, and everyone is invited to look and vote on where each piece of art goes. It used to be that only employees of the municipality could vote, but some of my friends and I (and, no doubt, several others) protested and left our votes anyway, seeing as it is our tax money after all, and we spend a lot of time in some of those public places. It´s nice to see that it´s possible to change things, even if this was a minor one.

One painting that made an impression on me this year was this: "Motherhood" by Eva Zettervall. It immediately made me think of a subject in Christian art called "Virgin and Child with Saint Anne" (in Swedish "Anna Själv Tredje"), where Virgin Mary´s mother Anne holds both her and the Christ child in her knee. I find it an interesting composition, with the mirror-image of the woman, her arms empty there. And the wading bird on her shoulder that seems to correspond to some kind of beetle in the reflection. And that lizzard, what´s that about?

A googling of the artist reveals that she has made similar compositions with mothers and children, and reflections. She doesn´t seem to have a website, but she has been around for long, with many exhibitions, and there are some articles about her.

Actually, I think that the Swedish name of this subject (very similar to the German, and other European languages as well), which, if you translate it word by word, is "Anna Herself Third" is more evocative than "Virgin and Child with Saint Anne". It is almost like a short poem, a riddle of sort. Perhaps that is why it stuck in my head. Swedish singer-songwriter Anna Järvinen released an album a few years back also titled "Anna Själv Tredje". Here is a song from that album:

Also, spring is on the way: the birds are singing like crazy every morning. I think the chaffinch-train arrived on Monday, because three of them have been serenading since then from their selected trees. The magpie couple in the birch in front of the record store is at work mending the roof of their nest. And the hares are very scruffy-looking now, shedding their pretty winter fur. I am wearing summer shoes.

April 15, 2014

Steel Works

Last month there was a great exhibition at the Art Gallery (in the Culture House) by Gudrun Söderholm from Kalix, textile artist with weaving as her specialty. The name of the exhibition is "Stålverk" (= steel works) and she has mixed steel and textile, mostly flax. She uses damask and taqueté techniques and I have tried to figure out how that is done, but you know, I don´t know the first about weaving; I read the explanations and go "Huh?". It´s very impressive, I have been to see it several times in the last few weeks and I am in awe of it.

A local critic didn´t like it much, though, he couldn´t see the point of it. I can´t help but think it´s a gender thing: he is male and a painter, she is female and a textile artist working with typically "male" materials that moreover have very little to do with traditional art. She is very, very neat in her execution, the works look almost machine made - you know, perfect in every detail. From my knitting days I remember that "your knitting looks like it´s machine knit" was praise from some people and definitely not praise from others, who think that imperfection is the characteristic of hand-made crafts, and elevates the work from cheap mass production. In this case, I think that the machine-like perfection is part of the artistic message.

Yes, I certainly see the point of this, and think there is much food for thought in Söderholm´s work. It has made me think much recently about the merging in later years of the traditionally male and female worlds, clashes of materials and work ethics, and of how things inhabit identity and value. Kerstin Gezelius in Dagens Nyheter wrote an interesting column this week about "Game of Thrones" and how writers of late has started to mess with the DNA of traditional fairy tales and mythologies, to "reprogram the future/present". I think that Söderholm´s work is somehow related to that.

Unfortunately she does not seem to have her own website, but I did find some more of her works here. And I´m sorry I left it so long to post this - the exhibition ended last Sunday (in case you are in Luleå).

April 14, 2014

With Eyes Sensitive To Green

I saw a documentary a few days ago about Barbro Hörberg, a Swedish singer-songwriter who was very popular when I was little. She died in 1976 from breast-cancer, only 43 years old. She was on television a lot, and as we only had two channels at the time, she was very hard to miss. I also remember how disturbing it was that she died, how sad it was. I find it hard to stop thinking about her now.

This is probably her most famous song, certainly everyone my age and older remembers it, "Med ögon känsliga för grönt" (= with eyes sensitive to green). The music was written by Nils Hansén. (This clip from a television performance was put on Youtube by Lennart Ljung. The song begins around 2:25.)

Och tänk i parken, om våren  /  And imagine, in the park, in springtime
Med ögon känsliga för grönt  /  With eyes sensitive to green
Och kastanjeblad som paraplyer  /  And chestnut leaves like umbrellas
Och våra händer känsliga för allt som är skönt  /  And our hands, sensitive to all that´s beatiful

Vi vek en duva av papper  /  We folded a bird from a piece of paper
I vinden seglade den långt  /  It sailed far in the wind
Och den landade på en staty som  /  And it landed on a statue that
Fick ändra alla orden i sin sång  /  Had to change all the words in its song

Det regnade, men bilderna blev bra  /  It rained, but the pictures turned out well
Det var ett egendomligt ljus den dan  /  It was a strange light that day
Vi fyllde våra ögon                           / We filled our eyes
Med ljuset och tankarna på allt det nya  /  With light and thoughts of all that´s new

Och tänk i parken, om våren  /  And imagine, in the park, in springtime
Med ögon känsliga för grönt  /  With eyes sensitive to green
Och kastanjeblad som paraplyer  /  And chestnut leaves like umbrellas
Jag älskade dig då, det gör jag nu  /  I loved you then, I love you now

(translated by me, quick and dirty)

April 11, 2014

Wanting to be Tom

The other night we were watching an old Swedish movie, a whodunit called "Tärningen är kastad" (= the die is cast). It all takes place in a Swedish television studio in 1960 (this was only three years after Swedish television started, and it would have been supercool and frontline technology), with a crew doing a detective series live. As they did. The hero is the series writer, whose fictional murders are being copycatted, and to clear himself from suspicions, he has to catch the killer.

Leif is the one creeping up on the girl. (Jan Malmsjö, so young.)
Me: "So, who do you think killed Leif?"
The husband: "Holger."
"He wants to be Tom."
"Tom? Who is Tom?"
"TOM. Technical Operations Manager."
"He killed him so he could pull the cool levers? What are you? Ten years old?"

In the end, it wasn´t about who wanted to be TOM, but covering up a completely different crime. To my relief...

April 9, 2014


We used to have a large birch tree right outside our livingroom window, on the other side of the parking lot; I used to use it as a measure of how much the wind was blowing and have taken quite a few photos of it through the years.

The other week, I woke up from a heck of a racket outside and looked out the window - just in time to see it fall. It was a rotten old thing, but some lady in the stairs next to us had gone out to protest and try to save it. I took some photos as they took it apart and I thought that red mark on the trunk resembled a wound to the heart.

I did miss it for a week or so, but all things must go sooner or later. Change is inevitable.

April 7, 2014

Morning Encounter

Met this little guy the other morning, munching on the birdfeeders. The photo is taken with the camera in the job phone, and it is truly awful. It´s a good thing I got so close to him, less than two meters. I often see hares as well, but they keep their distance.

April 5, 2014

Good Spirit

Sometimes, you end up outside your comfort zone and that is a good thing, usually. The husband was offered two basketball tickets for the first of the final games in the Swedish championship and what a treat that was! Our local team, Northland, was up against southern team Norrköping, and the audience were in high spirits. The ladies played amazingly, they were regular gladiators!

Much if this is thanks to the international cheering section from the university, a motley crew of students from France, Spain, Germany, Italy, India, and, naturally, Sweden. In an interview at the Swedish Radio, Ruben Suleja of Spain, says he has put 18 songs and rhymes together to cheer their team to victory. And of course they did. The final score was 73 - 59 to Northland!

I shot a very short and shaky film while the team was warming up.

April 3, 2014


I have been following the blog Faith is Torment for a while, and it´s a great way to be introduced to a couple of new artists on a daily basis. It´s even a bit much, some days. Today I discovered Walid Siti, and I find myself very attracted to his work. This series of towers made me think of something that happened on a trip to Vienna, in 1992.

Austria can, to a Swede anyway, seem a bit like an operatic fairytale land, very cultured and pretty and, frankly, overwhelming. We were sitting at the breakfast table with a friend, and we were silently (possibly a bit hung over from the previous evening) admiring a print on the wall of Peter Bruegel´s famous painting "The Tower of Babel". Suddenly he says: "That castle, is that near here?"

Borrowed from Wikipedia.

April 2, 2014

Ghost Finger

I have a new employer of late (same old job, though) and we have been dragged into the shiny, new world of smartphones (Samsung Galaxy). I find them surprisingly difficult to figure out; I keep turning the volume all the way down just by holding it with my left hand while trying to operate it with my right, and just answering a call wasn´t particularly intuitive. (I totally failed first time.)

Part of my problem is that I seem to suffer from Ghost Finger Syndrome. Apparently, I have dry fingers and it´s not unusual. Oh well...

April 1, 2014

Pretty music

Saturday afternoon, we spent an hour or so at the Art gallery listening to a song recital, lieder by Sibelius, Debussy and Paul Schierbeck. There was also some lyrical piano pieces by Grieg. The soprano was Lona Beccau, the pianist Helge Kjekshus. I found a few clips on youtube from a previous concert, same programme, but the recording is so badly made, I will not pain you with them.

Beccau was great, not just a fabulous voice, but fittingly flirty and charming. Kjekshus plays with great feeling, as always. Not that I am much of a judge of music, but I was not the only one to like it, the concert got rave reviews in the local paper; the critic (male) pretty much confessed that he came away wanting to run up the aisle and marry someone right away!

I think this version with Birgit Nilsson of Sibelius´ "Flickan kom från sin älsklings möte" (= the girl came from a meeting with her darling) is a better treat for you, and gives you a feel for what we experienced.

(Put up by operazaile.)