Sculpture invasion

Artworks’ Jenny Danielsson met up with Karin Wiberg at Thielska Galleriet on a bracing and beautifully sunny day at the beginning of June for a stroll around the park and a delicious piece of cake.

4 min read

Industrialist and art collector Ernest Thiel moved to this impressive villa in 1907. Today the collection on display is regarded as among the finest examples of Nordic art from the turn of last century. Throughout the summer an installation of white sculptures by Karin Wiberg animate the park surrounding the villa.

Don't more people in the south of Sweden know about your art?

Maybe, I am usually based in Skåne and last year I had an exhibition at Dunkers Kulturhus in Helsingborg. My works have also been on display in Lund, in the crypt of the Cathedral. But, as a matter of fact, there has also been a great interest in my work in Japan.

What material do you work in?

The sculptures on display here are made of clay that has been carefully fired, painted in many layers and then lacquered. The density of this kind of clay gives a sense of the heaviness of stone. The sculpture that greets the visitor entering the garden from the main entrance, The Large Fox, is made out of a special kind of concrete.

How did the collaboration with Thielska Galleriet come about?

Someone had mentioned my work to Patrick Steorn, rhe gallery's director. He contacted me in the autumn of last year and we have been in close contact ever since. I've had the chance to visit the museum on multiple occasions to really get to know the surroundings. It’s been a wonderful project to work with.

The installation is in keeping with the park's somewhat formal structure. The impressive Auguste Rodin bronze sculpture is firmly placed on a plinth and this is certainly a well kept garden. It’s quite fun seeing how your sculptures interact. I understand the gardener has been instructed to mow the lawn with special care, leaving a pasture for the group of hares and so on?

He has. Each sculpture is carefully placed, and how they integrate with the surroundings is of greatest importance to me.

Also, I spoke with the people running the café and you’re allowed to move the furniture. I really like the idea that visitors can sit, have their coffee and interact with the sculptures all around the park.

Is there anything special that you'd like the visitor to experience?

I can only hope that the visitors will have a good time. I can’t force anyone to meditate. But I really hope the visitor's encounter with the sculptures will bring happiness and a bit of space for reflection.

Before this collaboration, did you have any knowledge of the collection?

Of course. There are even some paintings here that have been very important to me. For example, Richard Berg’s monumental painting Riddaren och jungfrun (The Virgin and the Knight.) I have been fascinated with the girl's role, is she the one in need of protection, or is she the one in control, protecting the man?

Speaking of women, I think that some sculptures look a bit like you.

I've heard that before. They are not self-portraits per se. At other times in my life, I've worked with conventional self-portraits, examining my face at different ages. But if the women presented here resemble me, my guess is that only means that they are a part of me. After all, my sculptures are the outcome of the relationship between what the clay wanted to become and I wanted to do with it.

Thielska Galleriet is beautifully located at Blockhusudden, on the Royal island of Djurgården. The grounds’ café is managed by Monica Ahlberg, a renowned Swedish chef who has published several popular cookery books. Not surprisingly, the selection of food, cakes and drinks is wonderfully diverse and very elegant.

The show runs from 01 June until  01 October 2017. See the profile for opening hours

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