February 18, 2015

The Land of Childhood

There is an interesting exhibition at the art gallery right now, by Lotta Söder, who works mainly in glass. She is from around here originally, Skellefteå more specifically, but has lived and worked in Gothenburg for most of her life, returning last year to Umeå to work on this project, which she calls "SPÅR - en forskningsresa i Barndomslandet" (= TRACKS - an expedition in the land of Childhood). The story is, according to the leaflet, a dream about a winter landscape, with a bear and a fox as helpers in the struggle to pull a sled up a hill. Söder wants to use her glass to create an image of the frail and the strong, light and ice, triviality and sanctity.

There is a quote from Sara Lidman, the author (also from Skellefteå): "Det finns en närvaro, en kännedom från födelseorten, så oförneklig som den egna huden." (= There is a presence, a familiarity with the birthplace, as undeniable as one´s own skin.) This collection certainly has a strong taste of personal experience, but at the same time, anyone who grew up in a snowy landscape will know it, as Lidman says, in their own skin. The boots, the jacket, the mittens, which Söder has rendered in glass mosaic. It brings that Chinese princess burial suit to mind, if you remember.

I am attracted to glass, and a bit apprehensive about it, too, as it is so fragile. Every time someone brings a graal or something to the antiques roadshow and it is appraised to thousands and thousands, I can hardly watch as they pick it up - I keep seeing it on the floor, smashed to pieces; a nervous tic, that. Söder´s glass seems a lot more sturdy, for some reason, perhaps it´s the unusual shapes. Here, for example, she has made four pairs of skis from painted and printed glass. If you want a pair on your wall it will cost you 16.000 SEK (in the neighbourhood of 2000 USD or 1700 euro).

I have come back a few times to these objects, which are, to my mind, the most interesting ones on display right now. Perhaps it is that combination of memories, the fragility of the glass, and the burial associations of the mosaics. Memories can be both defining and elusive, and in later years I have returned to this over and over again, for different reasons. I have become more and more convinced of the necessity to forgive, forget and move on, and I see people having trouble with that, not least because of social media, which is a great tool, but which can also be one hell of a shackle.

You can read more about the artist (in Swedish and English) here.


  1. I know exactly how you feel about the Antiques Roadshow. I'd probably break my item getting it home after having it appraised. It makes me nervous watching them tip items over so we can see the bottoms.

    I love the colors in this artist's work.

    1. I still haven´t tired of seeing people´s reactions to having their things appraised - last week there was a woman who started giggling and finally almost fell to the floor laughing, you know, a real belly laugh. The expert got quite out of balance. Greatly entertaining! :-D