Stockholm: Flowers and cowboys


The Swedish capital is blooming this summer.  A botanical art feast Beloved Blossoms goes on at Millesgården. Liljevalchs celebrates the ceramic innovator Hertha Hillfon and the women’s group DNK has turned the art hall in Gustavsberg upside down. The Mats Theselius exhibition Urban Cowboy at Artipelag may just be worth the bus trip.

Beloved Blossoms (through August 30)
In this year’s summer exhibition at Millesgården, the garden enters the Art Gallery. When the sculpture park is resplendent with flowers, the flourishing continues indoors where more than 60 works by 20 artists are presented, all featuring floral motifs.

Older still lifes hang side by side with works by prominent contemporary artists. In techniques ranging from painting and photography to moving images, there is an abundance of floral imagery that conveys everything from desire and pleasure, to death and transitoriness.

The exhibition brings forth the details in the seductive floral motifs. Which flowers have the artists chosen and why? In some of the works the flower world is depicted with scientific precision and in others we see plants that bloom only in the artist’s imagination. Deadly poisonous plants hide in sugary-sweet bouquets. In the works by contemporary artists there are flowers that grow, wither, are picked to pieces, form patterns and reemerge. Paintings, both minimal and monumental, are in dialogue with video art and photography. The exhibition texts present the secrets of the flower images from a plant grower’s perspective. They are written by Karin Berglund, author of several gardening books, including Bonniers stora bok om din trädgård, 1996 and Med fingrarna i jorden, 1999.

Karin Berglund, whose expert eyes are trained on both the living and the depicted vegetation, relates the history and status of different flowers and their place in borders and bouquets. She writes about flowers both edible and poisonous, and how they have been used throughout history in the production of medicines.


Artists in the exhibition: Ivan Aguéli, Roger Andersson, Dick Beer, Saara Ekström, Sven X-et Erixson, Elsa Grünewald, Denise Grünstein, Agda Holst, Eugène Jansson, Gunilla Lagerhem-Ullberg, Henning Malmström, Heikki Marila, Maria Sibylla Merian, Olga Milles, Emma Mulvad, Jenny Nyström, Ewa-Marie Rundquist, Theodor Schröder, Andy Warhol and Frans Ykens.

Visiting address: Herserudsvägen 32
Public transportation
Subway to Ropsten and then bus 201, 202, 204, 205, 206, 211 or 212 to Torsviks torg. From Torsviks torg there is only a short walk to Millesgården, approximately 300 meters. Follow the signs.

Hertha Hillfon: Innovative Ceramist at Liljevalchs (Through August 16)

Hertha Hillfon (1921-2013) was a ceramic innovator who moved with ease between different fields of art: from abstract experiments and utility goods to symbolic sculptures and portraits. This generous retrospective allows us to experience the magic of her home and studio in Mälarhöjden, Stockholm.

A tribute to Hertha Hillfon’s art, the exhibition is a pleasurable biographical journey through her life and work, from her first beginnings to her mature pieces. In two of the galleries we present monumental images in an attempt to recreate the feeling in the artist’s conservatory and studio, designed by her architect husband Gösta Hillfon. It was here that Hertha Hillfon lived and created for more than five decades, until her death in October 2013.

In the foreword to the catalogue, Liljevalchs’ Director, Mårten Castenfors, describes her bohemian image:

“An exceedingly dramatic person, surrounded by innumerable stories, she was larger than life and leaves behind an oeuvre of symbolic dimensions. Large or small, always personal, these are works that tell stories of loved ones, works about everyday things, works filled with passion and mystery.”

Hertha Hillfon was born in 1921 in Härnösand, the fourth of fourteen siblings. In 2000, her younger brother, Lars Lennart Forsberg, made the Guldbagge Award-winning documentary “My mum had fourteen children”. In 1933, the family moved to Stockholm and in her late teens Hertha began to study nursing as well as painting. At art school she met her future husband Gösta Hillfon. After the birth of their two children, Curt and Maria, in the mid-1940s, they moved to Gösta’s parents’ home at Sexstyversgränd in Mälarhöjden where they remained for the rest of their lives.

Hertha Hillfon chose to be an artist late in life. As a mother of small children, she had always drawn and painted and garnered inspiration, impressions and knowledge on her study trips to Italy, where she felt a particular affinity with Etruscan art. At the age of 32, she began studying at Konstfack, the University College of Arts, Craft and Design in Stockholm, where she specialised in ceramics and learned her craft from scratch.

Her artistic breakthrough came in two stages. In the autumn of 1958 she participated in the group exhibition “Form i centrum” in Stockholm and was hailed as a sensation, a different and “exuberantly baroque” artist. Her debut solo exhibition in January 1959 drew further acclaim. The critics lavished praise on her rustic pots and hand-built sculptures which broke with the austere and toned-down design ideals of the 1950s.

After a few years, Hertha Hillfon turned her attention to everyday objects and gave ceramic life to that which was around her, the cat, a bread braid, a child’s shirt, her husband’s jacket… A round loaf of bread became a classic and was in production for many years. The plaster mould remains in the workshop.

Hertha Hillfon’s life and work were intertwined. “It was important to her to never lose contact with the domestic feeling and the daily life with the clay, the bread, the family,” Peter Eklund writes in an essay in the catalogue, which begins with a breakfast meeting at Hertha Hillfon’s blue house in Mälarhöjden and grows into a personal portrait of the artist.

She soon received commissions to create public artworks. The Swedish Welfare State built new schools, hospitals, banks, libraries, town halls and theses environments would receive their share of beauty and cultural experiences. After her husband Gösta had designed the large studio in 1968, Hertha Hillfon was able to devote herself to monumental and grandiose works. including a tribute to the Walloon smiths on the Leufsta estate, a sculpture group with a ram and trees for the state-owned Karolinen in Karlstad, a wall on the Opera Terrace restaurant, where the mouth with the full lips appeared for the first time, portraits, often in full figure, of family and friends as well as famous people such as Astrid Lindgren, and large masks. It is no wonder that her annual consumption of Höganäs clay amounted to two tons!

“If you have seen Hertha’s ceramics but not seen her home or her studio then you haven’t yet seen or understood Hertha,” writes artist Dan Wolgers in the catalogue, emphasising how important architect Gösta Hillfon was for his wife’s creativity and identifies a number of lovingly executed architectural features that facilitated his wife’s work.

At Sexstyversgränd, a unique and coherent complex consisting of a studio, a workshop and a home was created. Hertha Hillfon’s works were everywhere, both indoors and outside in the undulating garden, maquettes, finished or damaged pieces, in boxes or storage. With the point of departure in Mattias Lindbäck’s images, we will attempt to recall – in Liljevalchs’ galleries – the atmosphere of this creative environment. The Friends of Hertha Hillfon association is now working to return artworks to Mälarhöjden and create Sweden’s first female artist’s home.

Designed by Patric Leo, the catalogue comprises, in addition to the texts mentioned above and Mattias Lindbäck’s rich visual material, five new poems by poet Eva Runefelt who has spent time in Hertha Hillfon’s studio and garden and discovered traces and memories.

Arne Leeb, a friend and neighbour of the Hillfon family, has curated the exhibition and compiled the texts in the galleries.

Djurgårdsvägen 60, Stockholm

Getting here:
Djurgården ferries from Slussen or Skeppsholmen, tram no 7, bus no 44.

RADICAL FRIENDSHIP at Gustavsbergs konsthall (Through August 30)
DNK – Den Nya Kvinnogruppen
The New Women’s Group

During the spring and summer of 2015 Gustavsbergs Konsthall will be showing a new exhibition produced by DNK – the New Women’s Group entitled Radical Friendship. DNK is a group of feminist artists and craftswomen founded in 2013 by Evelina Hedin, Hilda Hellström, Kakan Hermansson, Anna Nordström, Malena Norlin and Åsa Norman. The impulse to form the group came from the members’ reactions to what they describe as a patriarchal art and craft context. In order to promote and make room for an approach that encourages solidarity with other women, DNK initiates discussion and produces exhibitions and workshops embracing practical material-based activities. The group describes Radical Friendship, the title of the exhibition at Gustavsbergs Konsthall, in the following terms:

“Radical Friendship aims to encourage joint organization and solidarity in an increasingly individualistic world. We maintain that working together at the present time is radical in itself, and we hope to inspire others to reflect on subjects like sisterhood, solidarity and feminism. We see a strong need to politicize the craft context which is often experienced as introverted and unreflected.”

Odelsbergs väg, Gustavsbergs hamn

Mats Theselius – Urban Cowboy at Artipelag (Through August 23)

Urban Cowboy presents Mats Theselius’ extensive collections that function both as an inspiration and as a reference to his design process. The exhibition offers a unique insight into Theselius’ artistic practice.

Mats Theselius (b. 1956) is one of Scandinavia’s most acclaimed but also most unique designers. He moves effortlessly between art and design, between utopia and practice, between exclusivity and popular expressions. No matter from which continent, time period, or cultural sphere that he gets his inspiration, the result is instantly identifiable.

Visiting address
Artipelagstigen 1
134 40 Gustavsberg


By bus
SL 468 from Gustavsbergs Centrum to Hålludden
 (Artipelag main entrance)
From Slussen metro station, take bus number 474 to Gustavsbergs Centrum. Change to bus number 468 to Hålludden (main entrance).

SL 423 to Hålluddens Trafikplats (1,5 km from the main entrance)
On weekdays you can take bus number 423 from Slussen metro station to Hålluddens Trafikplats, which is about 1,5 km walk from the main entrance.

SL 474 to Värmdö Marknad (3,5 km from the main entrance)
From Slussen metro station, take bus number 474 to Värmdö Marknad which is about 3,5 km walk to the main entrance. When you get off the bus, take the road between COOP supermarket and INGO gas station and follow the signs towards Artipelag.

Artipelag bus
On evenings and afternoons you can travel by bus between Artipelag and Stockholm Central station (costs 50 SEK oneway) or between Artipelag and Värmdö Marknad for free.

By passenger boat
During the summer season you can travel by ferry from Stockholm City to Artipelag. The journey through Skurusundet and the very narrow strait Baggenstäket is an experience in itself!

Click here for the timetable

By private boat
We have a guest marina for private boats. Position: N 59° 18´ 04″, O 18° 20´ 07″.

By car
From Stockholm

A drive from central Stockholm takes about 20 minutes. Take route 222 towards Gustavsberg and follow the signs towards Hålludden/Artipelag. Artipelag has 350 parking spaces.

From Värmdö/Ingarö
Drive road 222, turn off towards Värmdö Marknad and keep to the right on Ingarövägen road. At the roundabout by COOP, turn left and follow the signs. Arriving from Gustavsberg turn right in the roundabout by COOP and follow the signs.

350 parking spaces. From 10-20 SEK/hour.

By taxi

Värmdö Taxi
In collaboration with our local taxi company, Värmdö Taxi, we offer fixed prices to and from Artipelag. To book a taxi, call +46 (0)8-570 357 00 and ask for the fixed price. Example: from Stockholm Central station 410 SEK, from Värmdö Marknad 110 SEK.

Feature image (on top) Ferry leaving to Artipelag

Stockholm: Flowers and cowboys, compiled by Admin