The Swedish Island of Art

The Swedish Island of Art

Tjörn is known as the Swedish Island of Art. But the country’s sixth largest island is just as good for cycling, beach life, seafood and enjoyment of life.

Like the rest of Bohuslän during the summer, the island hosts tourists from around Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Germany. However, what many visitors don’t know is that a little further inland in Pilane resides a very unique sculpture park. This Swedish sculpture park is a unique combination of ancient ruins and modern art.  You do not need a map to find Pilane. Just follow the coast north and look for the big white head. That is Anna by the Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, 14 meters high, from plinth to hairline (photo on top). And she is a beauty! Her timeless face is turned to the sea while the seasons flow around her. It is one of the world’s largest and most beautiful works of art.

The Swedish Island of Art
At Tjörn one of Sweden’s most beautiful landscapes opens up before you.

Related: UNESCO Sites You Must See in Sweden

The open-air museum has several dozen sculptures spread over eight hectares, but there is no doubt about which of them gets the most attention. However, the park features a beautiful heath with undulating terrain. Around the park are around 90 different historical sites from the Iron Age such as stone circles, burial mounds, and cairns.

Together with the Nordic Watercolor Museum in Skärshamn, Pilane has made art a trademark for Tjörn.

The Swedish Island of Art
The Nordic Watercolor Museum in Skärshamn. Photo: Anders A. Rena

From the jetty at the Nordic Watercolor Museum, you can dip your paintbrush in water while you dip your toes in the sea. From the cliffs of the historic landscape of Sculpture in Pilane, you can gaze out over the sea with the sculpture Anna by your side. Across the water stands Pater Noster, the king of lighthouses, where you have a world-class design hotel that offers you a home on the horizon.

Related: A Summer Playground for Scandinavians

With its magical location by the sea on the outskirts of Skärhamn, the Nordic Watercolour Museum has an atmosphere of clarity and creativity. Since the museum opened in 2000, it has hosted a series of world class international exhibitions. Among the exhibitors have been Salvador Dali, Bill Viola, Louise Bourgeois and Swedish favourites such as Elsa Beskow, Anders Zorn and Lars Lerin.

The Swedish Island of Art
Nordic Watercolor Museum. Photo: Jonas Ingman

Hiking and cycling between your art experiences
From the Nordic Watercolour Museum in Skärhamn, way markers lead you past fishing boats and boathouses, through the charming streets of this coastal community. As you leave the village one of Sweden’s most beautiful landscapes opens up before you. The trail takes you on winding paths, over smooth coastal rocks, through wind bent pine forests, and across sea strand meadows, all the way to Sculpture in Pilane.

Paddle your way to art through the world’s most beautiful archipelago
Rent your kayak at Kajaktiv in Bleket. From here, paddle north towards Skärhamn, past salt-rimed boathouses, cobs, and skerries, to land on the beach outside the Nordic Watercolour Museum. In calm weather there is also the opportunity to paddle with a guide from Kajaktiv to the small island of Hamneskär, home of the Pater Noster lighthouse.

Related: Where to Go Kayaking in Scandinavia



The Pater Noster lighthouse
The Pater Noster lighthouse on the island of Hamneskär guided sailors for over 150 years. The masterful architecture of this legendary lighthouse is now a home on the horizon. The solitary lighthouse keeper’s residence is one of the world’s foremost design hotels, and you are welcome!

The Swedish Island of Art, written by Tor Kjolberg

All images © Visit Sweden/Västsverige

Photo (on top): Anna at Pilane

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Journalist, PR and marketing consultant Tor Kjolberg has several degrees in marketing management. He started out as a marketing manager in Scandinavian companies and his last engagement before going solo was as director in one of Norway’s largest corporations. Tor realized early on that writing engaging stories was more efficient and far cheaper than paying for ads. He wrote hundreds of articles on products and services offered by the companies he worked for. Thus, he was attuned to the fact that storytelling was his passion.