Nordic Notes & Observations - Sweden

Notes on Institutions and Galleries in Sweden

Swedish Institute
Slottsbacken 10 Box 7434
103 91 Stockholm
Founded in 1946, the Swedish Institute (SI) is a public agency that promotes interest in Sweden abroad. SI seeks to establish cooperation and lasting relations with other countries through active communication and cultural, educational and scientific exchanges. The SI’s operations are carried out in close cooperation with Swedish and foreign partners, as well as with Swedish embassies and consulates around the world.

We Work In a Fragile Material

Statement from the artists’ website

"WWIAFM is a craft-based design group with nine members, who all attended Konstfack (Stockholm’s College of Arts, Craft and Design). The group was founded in 2001 and has since orchestrated and participated in several exhibitions around Sweden. A common inspiration and motivation for the members of WWIAFM is the desire to broaden the perception of contemporary crafts and expand the way handicraft is treated and shown. Each member harbours a sincere love of their discipline and material at the same time as they regard the field’s traditionally set standards as ”truths” that can be modified. WWIAFM wants its work and exhibitions to be seen as a compliment to the offerings of the traditional arts and crafts scene. It’s not about protesting established aesthetic norms, but expanding them. When the group’s members do articulate protests, they are concerned with human behaviour patterns and social conventions rather than aesthetics. Past shows have dealt with life issues such as the relationship between gender and power, nationalism and exoticism and the human control of nature. WWIAFM uses glass and ceramics to comment on the time and world they live in, with the intention of inspiring their viewers to do the same. Through their exhibitions, performances and interactive projects, they highlight the way our values and thought processes are shaped by the objects that surround us."

We Work in a Fragile Material is apparently a loose affiliation of 9 members who come together for specific projects but who claim not to have a shared common philosophy (despite the website declaration) They meet or communicate largely through the internet.

2003-2004 First project in an historic house, Skokloster Slott Castle, where contemporary crafts placed in the surroundings of this Baroque Castle, included Sara Isaksson From and Linus Ersson. Followed by project at Tensta Konsthall ‘You Can Do It!’ 2004 where visitors invited to make their own models from Playdo clay. Tensta serves a high immigrant population, over half the population from non-Swedish background.

In the Eagles Nest (Nacka, March 10th – 12th, 2006)

“On a freezing winters day we brought 400 kilos of clay and food for three days to a cabin in the woods. It proved to be a very intensive stay. In the light of the fire we worked the clay inspired from the subconscious pictures that we created by exposing ourselves to a variety of drum journeys, rites, prophecies and conversations with demons and a general mysticism”.

The objects that were created in “the Eagles Nest” were later brought to Norway and fired in an anagama kiln located on a high mountain top. On a pentagram painted directly on the exhibition floor of the Norwegian National Museum was built a suggestive installation of ceramics and photos from “the Eagles Nest” sessions – The State of Things 2006.

May 2006 New York ‘Happy Campers’ The realisation of a gigantic “troll” from stuffed hessian with no original plan, involved audience participation again. After the exhibition the troill was paraded through the streets. In 2008 2 members bought an old school house in Smaland, the other members went to visit to paint faux marble panels which were later exhibited at the Crystal Palace in Stockholm. 2009 We Built this City London (invited by ‘6pm’ Edmund de Waal) construction of dwelling of papier mache working as a group like ants, themes of defence, eating , sleeping dictated the function of the structure.

Maria Skolgata 83,
2nd floor,
SE-118 53 Stockholm, Sweden
Magnus Ericson, Project Manager

What the website says:

"Iaspis is a Swedish exchange programme whose main purpose is to facilitate creative dialogues between visual artists in Sweden and the international contemporary art scene. Iaspis encompasses an international studio programme in Sweden, a support structure for exhibitions and residencies abroad for Swedish based artists, as well as a programme of seminars, exhibitions and publications. Iaspis is the international programme of the Visual Arts Fund, a branch of the Arts Grants Committee.

Iaspis, in operation since 1996, has played a role in the internationalisation of Swedish art, both as an institution that financially supports artists and as a small and flexible agent that creates new connections between artists, writers and curators. The prime task has never been to export Swedish art, but rather to create a dialogue between Swedish artists and institutions and the rest of the world. This means that it’s not only a question of helping artists from Sweden to work and exhibit in other countries, but also inviting artists from other parts of the world to work in Sweden. In collaboration with other institutions, Iaspis has invited international artists, curators, critics and art theorists to talk about their individual experiences.

On a few occasions Iaspis has initiated and organised exhibitions abroad. For example, we have for a number of years organised a parallel Iaspis exhibition to the Venice Biennale. Part of Iaspis’ task is also to inform about Swedish art. As part of this task and as a reflection of the lectures and seminars that take place in the building, we have initiated a series of publications in cooperation with the publishing house Propexus that will publish thematic anthologies, exhibition catalogues and monographs on Swedish artists.

Iaspis could be described as a force field, a place that generates art and thoughts about art through studio residencies, exhibitions, seminars, discussions, and publications. We who work at Iaspis wish that the operation would contribute to an exchange both in a local and in a wider context. An exchange that works in all kinds of directions and that constantly finds new road-turns and contact surfaces that will open up for change, influences and new knowledge."

Started the residency programme in 1996, has developed since to meet the international needs of artists. 4 opportunities for Swedish artists (2 of which are recent graduates); 5 opportunities for invited international artists.

Magnus Ericson:
IASPIS is part of the Arts Grants Committee, government body which funds all art forms except literature. IASPIS comes under the Viusal Arts Fund which supports individual practitioners rather than organisations. It is run by 5.5 members of staff. It offers grants for international exchange including inviting foreign artists to work in Sweden. The grants are for developing new work 100,000 SE Kr for 1-2 years (approx. £7,600 per annum). There are also grants to support artists for 5-10 years and a very few life-time grants which are income based, so if artists start to earn then they pay back some of the funding.

IASPIS also have studios in Malmo, Goteborg and Lulea. It also collaborates with different organisations around the world in NY, Tokyo, Cairo (Town House), London (Gasworks) and Rio de Janeiro to place Swedish artists in residencies overseas.

The main focus of IASPIS is visual art but it also incorporates crafts, design and architecture.

In 2003 it started Craft in Dialogue as a pilot project to see if the residency model could be extended for the furtherance of crafts practice. The pilot project ceased in 2006 and since this point crafts has been fully integrated into the IASPIS programme. Magnus Ericson’s own background is in product design.

In answer to a question regarding training, professional development and mentoring, ME replied that it was not the mission of IASPIS to offer training in business skills but through the provision of space and funding to provide artists with a platform to develop new work.

Artists talks at the Swedish Institute:

Zandra Ahl (artist)
Professor at Kunstfack (specializing in Ceramics and glass), University College of Arts Crafts and Design, where she obtained her MFA. She worked previously as Project Manager for Crafts in Dialogue (see IASPIS above). A leading figure in the Swedish conceptual crafts scene, she is noted for the ‘censored’ commissioned film piece for the National Museum in Stockholm which took a critical look at the formalist approach to modernism in the displays of the 20th century design collections. She is a keen critic of patriarchy in the arts and the exploitation of arts and crafts to promote a narrow form of national branding and an exclusive notion of Swedishness. She wants to change the craft and design scene in Sweden through a number of approaches: lectures, publications (she has co-produced a fanzine called ‘Slicker’) and exhibitions. She is represented by Crystal Palace Gallery.

Albin Karlsson (artist)

Graduated from Konstfack 2002 in metalwork and jewellery. Most of the makers we were to meet in Sweden were graduates from Konstfack in Stockholm which has only 8 graduates and 8 post-graduates per annum therefore it was a very small world with many of the makers knowing each other.

AK works with clocks and timing mechanisms to make sculptures or installations which attempt to convey a sense of what time ‘feels like’. Some of his digital clock pieces involved a mechanised face pushing through a rubber membrane. He also showed pictures of an installation ‘Minuterna’ in the popular underground station of Odenplan, a space designed for the exhibition of work by recent graduates. It involved a paint-spraying machine which slowly moves around the inside of a glass cubicle covering the walls with red paint until the interior is completely obscured. Regular travellers on the underground would have had the opportunity to experience the durational nature of the piece.

Another work ‘1g/min’ exhibited at 100% Design in London, has a cylindrical sculpture slowly form on the ground from a ‘leaking’ container of hot glue suspended from the ceiling. A third work commissioned by the University of Umeå is a huge ceiling-suspended digital clock (seen from below) where the changing minutes and hours are mirrored plates operated on a rod and wire mechanism.


Crystal Palace Contemporary Art
Karlsbergsvagen 44
113 62 Stockholm
Contact: Katarina Sjögren

A contemporary gallery specialising in conceptual craft and work which crosses boundaries between fine art and craft. Run by 2 people, previously operated in Tensta Konsthall. Shows the work of Zandra Ahl.

Made By
Vikingagatan 20
113 42 Stockholm
Contact: Scottish metalsmith David Taylor

Gallery specialising in contemporary metalwork and jewellery.

Odengatan 68
SE-113 22 Stockholm
Contact: Sofia Björkman

Contemporary jewellery gallery.

Galleri IngerMolin
Kommendörsgatan 24
114 48 Stockholm

A contemporary gallery specialising in conceptual craft and work which crosses boundaries between fine art and craft.

Gustavsbergs Konsthall
Odelbergs väg 9
Gustavsbergs Ham AB
134 82 Gustavsberg
Artistic Director, Maj Sandell

What the website says:
"Gustavsbergs Konsthall is Sweden’s only public art gallery specializing in contemporary craft art. The gallery opened in the summer of 2007 and has rapidly established itself as a leading venue for Swedish and international crafts. By showing a broad spectrum of crafts in thematic, groundbreaking and artistically exploratory exhibitions the gallery aims to increase public understanding of contemporary craft art and to promote discussion. Gustavsbergs Konsthall represents an open and innovative craft venue, based on traditional craft manufacturing. The exhibition schedule features crafts in all types of materials, displaying current work by internationally recognized craft artists as well as the avant-garde of the younger generation. The gallery mounts five to eight exhibitions each year.

Gustavsbergs Konsthall also runs the unique Ceramic & Glass Expo which sells high-quality, hand-picked items by Sweden’s leading craft artists. The products range in style from classical to conceptual so that the Expo acts as an important forum for the latest in Swedish ceramic and glass art, presenting the public with a sales point that is unique in Sweden

Gustavsbergs Konsthall is situated in the oldest building of the former Gustavsberg porcelain works, the so-called Gula Byggningen, where it occupies the entire upper floor. Operations are in the hands of the gallery’s management team consisting of Maj Sandell, artistic director, Agneta Linton, exhibition producer, and Caroline Södergren, co-ordinator. Gustavsbergs Konsthall is owned by Gustavsbergs Hamn AB."

Artists met at Gustavsbergs:
Ylva Wilhelmina Franzén, ceramic artist
Mia E Görranson, ceramic artist
Ann-Britt Haglund, ceramic artist