Stockholm

 

Moaritisk Absorbent 2

Reeling from Russia’s awesome attractions, we cruised into our next stop, Stockholm, Sweden.  Since we’d delved heavily into history in our Russian tours, we decided to start our Swedish sojourn with some modern art.

Swedish Subway Station Tour

Buried beneath Stockholm’s streets are stunning subway stations, cavernous and colourful.  Desperate to see them for ourselves, we followed the tour. Our guide Marie got round trip tickets to show us some of the most sensational stops. With 100 stations to choose from, it was no mean feat.

Kungsträdgården

Kungsträdgården

Among the most memorable was Kungsträdgården station, underneath Stockholm’s public park. The station’s rough walls are forest green, with water trickling down them into pools, complete with marooned- marble statues, looking like sunken Greek gods.

While obviously engineered, the water features have allowed nature to flourish, as the station hosts a fungus with a unique DNA structure, the first of its kind discovered there in 2016.

T-Centralen

T-Centralen

Travelling back in time, to the first of Stockholm’s art subways, we visited the T-Centralen. Decorated in blue and white motifs of wheat and industrial scenes; it is a surprisingly static station design created by Scandinavia’s prima kinetic artist, Per Olof Ultvedt.

Citybanan

Citybanan

From the old to the new, we moved to the recently completed Citybanan railway tunnel, complete with celestial cloud ceiling and dazzling domes. Designed by Ahlqvist and Almqvist Architects, with illumination from WSP Sweden, the station is intended to shift its visitors from warm to cool light as they ascend the escalator.

Also on the city line was the Moaritisk Absorbent disco light feature wall and ceiling, by artist Mikael Paulin. With gorgeous glows, it makes the perfect selfie stop!

Solna Centrum

Solna Centrum

Next we saw Solna Centrum subway station, designed by Karl-Olov Björk and Anders Åberg to be a sunset of red huges, with political murals marking poignant points of Swedish sociology, such as rural flight, deforestation and environmentalism.

Stadion subway

Stadion subway

Ideology continued in the Stadion subway, which welcomes visitors with its rainbow colours and blue sky walls. Although perfect for Pride – which is celebrated in the nearby Östermalms IP grounds  –  the colours were chosen by Enno Hallek and Åke Pallarp to represent the 1912 Stockholm Olympics.

Changing Guard

Changing of the Guard

Heading back to the city centre, we finished our subway station tour in time to witness the daily Changing of the Guard. Around noon, we followed crowds through the streets, up to the palace Outer Courtyard to see The Royal Guard and Music Corps complete their procession. Although it was busy, we squeezed to the front capture photos of the gold and blue bonanza.

Bee Shop

Breaking off from the crowds, we walked down the pretty street of 111 29 Stockholm, catching a break at a Texas grill. Sampling the local lager – and not so local food– we speculated about souvenir shops nearby.

It was then I spotted the bee produce shop, Sverkstan (door number 10 on the street). Venturing in, I was delighted with its beeswax candles, soaps and Manuka honey. With friendly staff and a wide range of goods, I would have spent more time and Kronor there, but with cruise departure impending we made a beeline for the port.

Travelogue

Travelouge 3

If you enjoy Nordic fiction, then why not explore the landscape through visual art? This voyage can be taken in Glasgow’s Briggait (studio) through Clive A Brandon’s Travelogue exhibition (running April 27 to June 5).

Travelogue showcases Brandon’s work from residencies in Norway, Scotland, Sweden and Iceland.

He explained: “I had visited Scandinavia several times before Travelogue and had a yearning to explore these countries more deeply. I loved the atmosphere and wanted to experience what it was like to live and work there, even if only for short time.”

In April 2013 Brandon left for a 20 month journey through Northern Europe, completing residencies that examined natural and manufactured elements of remote places.

He said: “I wanted to see how my work, which had become very ‘urban’, would develop in natural landscapes.”

Brandon explored these landscapes through excursions; making photos, sketches and watercolours that he combined with recycled materials and local information. These became a bricolage of material.

Brandon recalled: “When travelling I couldn’t carry very much, so I worked out a basic art kit with a watercolour travel set, acrylic paint, brushes, canvas, watercolour pads, moleskin sketchbooks, scissors, pens/pencils and graph paper. I made a rule that this all had to fit into an A3 folder and pencil case.”

On arrival at each residency, Brandon scoured the area for base materials such as cardboard. This often involved rummaging through recycling bins or asking strangers for shoe boxes.

He said: “I did get some strange looks, but if anyone asked what I was doing I just told them I was an artist, which normally excuses all sorts of behaviour.”

At the end of each residency Brandon would package most of his work and post it back home.

He added: “I left different things at each place; sometimes pieces just wouldn’t fit in postage, other times I donated paintings or sketches to my hosts.”

Meeting interesting people was – Brandon said – one of the highlights of his trip. He listed other highlights as: challenging his work patterns, having to be resourceful, seeing amazing countries and living like a local.

However living like a local was not always easy.

Brandon explained: “Before Travelogue I had never done any residencies; so arriving in another country without familiar studios, friends or materials was hard.

“The first day of each residency was a bit strange; I would arrive to an empty room and wonder how I was going to make something from nothing.

“My first actions were normally to get some ideas up on the walls, rearrange the space and make it feel like mine.”

After setting up, Brandon absorbed his environments by collecting materials and making sketches, this – he said – helped him to relax and built towards his final projects.

He added: “I’m really happy with the body of work I produced, which is why I was keen to collectively show it when I returned.”

Before his travels Brandon lived and worked in England, having studied an MA at Wimbledon and BA at Leicester De Montfort.

Upon returning to the UK Brandon started touring his exhibition.

He said: “I found that travelling can be a brilliant experience that can change your work forever.

“To any artist considering working abroad I would say: plan ahead, set goals (but have an open mind and avoid being too prescribed) then get to know the local people and arts scenes.”

International residency opportunities can be found at Res artists’, Transartists’ and WASPS studios’ websites.

WASPS studios hold special resonance with Brandon, as they are hosting his Travelogue exhibition.

Brandon said: “This is my first Scottish show and first solo show in the UK, so it’s a very exciting time.

“I hope people will get a lot out of Travelogue; it is a large body of work that allows viewers to immerse themselves in the sense of place. It shows how palettes change with the seasons, and landscapes shift from rolling hills, to forests to volcanic areas.”

Travelogue dates and locations can be found on Brandon’s website.