Mir's Impressions of Sweden (Stockholm)

Arrival in Stockholm and Sunshine on 7th May - Day 5

First stop Gallery Platina, contemporary jewellery in a small but perfectly formed space. Second stop the Swedish Institute where we were given a presentation on the work of We Work in Fragile Materials, by two of artists of this 9-members artists’ group.  Set up in 2003, all members individually work in either ceramics or glass.  When they collaborate however, they produce work considered more visual art than applied art.  Interesting to see that they moved, seemingly with great ease, between their individual crafts practice and a collaborative visual arts and that both were taken seriously in these respective sectors.

In the evening we met up with Adam Jeanes from Intercult who talked (with great enthusiasm) about his SEAS project, a European funded project with more partners than your average swingers club.  I was too hungry by that time to take it all in but it sounded exciting, exhausting and extremely hard work to get it off the ground.  Well done to them.

 

Day 6, Friday 8th May.

First visit of the day: IASPIS – they facilitate opportunities for artists within visual arts, design, craft and architecture by providing studios for artists in Stockholm, Malmo and Gothenberg. They also support artists through grants across artforms and run an international residency programme (around 5 per annum) as well as an exchanges programme (currently with Berlin, Tokyo, London, Cairo, Rio de Janeiro and New York) International residencies are by invitation through recommendations from partners and selection by committee.

A beautiful space (spotless studios, a project room, a lovely communal dining area and a comprehensive archive, consisting of 1000s of spotless white boxes, all containing information and visual documentation on the artists they work with). All the artists who have been in residence have donated a piece of work.

 

We then travelled by bus to Gustavsbergs Konsthall, an arts centre that opened in 2007.  The gallery is devoted to craft from both Sweden and abroad. As well as presenting craft they aim to promote theoretical discussion to increase awareness of this developing field. We saw the exhibition: American Craft ‘ Motion Blur’.  We met with Maj Sandell (Artistic Director) and Agneta Linton (Curator) and Sabrena Geschwandter, one of the American artists with work in the show.

Situated in the outskirts of Stockholm surrounded by a lake and with a number of different creative enterprises, from factory outlets to artists’ studios and a ceramics museum. 

After the tour we visited a number of artists’ studios in the studio complex on site and talked to the artists there.  The main focus of practice is clearly on ceramics with a number of communal kilns in the basement (artists pay for each firing). The work produced by the artists was represented in both the ceramics and glass exhibition at the Konsthall as well as in the shop underneath the Konsthall – nice to see a mutual appreciation between artists and the arts centre.

 

In the evening a few of us went on to taste the (astronomically priced) beers of the SOAP bar, where all Bob Martin’s birthdays and Christmases came at once when he met the two blonde, young, rich and very Swedish friends Marlene and Linda.  Allegedly (I had already left by that time), they proved too much for him in the end but being bald, mature, just about solvent and very English, he took it in his stride.

 

Day 7, Saturday 9th May – We listened to the presentations of 3 artists:

Zandra Ahl zandra.ahl@gmail.com teaches at the Konstfack in Stockholm.  Artist who works in ceramics but questions the tradition associated with ceramics and design. She and her colleaugeu/friend Adrea Djerf produce a fanzine ‘Slicker’. Albin Karlsson, www.albinkarlsson.com An artist whose central theme in this work seemed to focus around time and clocks which was cute because he had overslept and arrived late.  Really interesting work. And Andrea Djerf, www.andreadjerf.com also a ceramicist. 

We then went on to visit Crystal Palace is a gallery that presents the work of contemporary artistic expression within art, craft and design and works across the boundary of visual art/craft. 

 

Unexpectedly, I slept like a Viking Princess on the overnight ferry to Finland.

Mir Jansen, Yorkshire Artspace