Archive | July, 2013

Dispatches from Tranås – week 1

23 Jul

Last Wednesday 17 July I arrived in Tranås, Jönköping County, to be an artist-in-residence for almost 6 weeks. For someone who works full time, I see this as a wonderful opportunity to devote my time to creating new art work in a country that inspires me. I am joined by 7 other artists and it’s going to be interesting to see how we all respond to the experience, developing connections and exploring the area.

Tranas House

Above is where we are staying. The stage is quite a new addition, and I love the yellow benches! Eva and Colm are our hosts from Kultivera have given us a warm welcome here, to our home and studio for our time here. It is located near to the train line where long and very fast trains whoosh through and you can feel it on the windows. The noise really doesn’t bother me though – it’s dramatic!

There are a lot of lakes around here, from small secluded jetties stretching into deep pools in the woods, to the magnificent Sommen lake about half an hour’s drive away. Sommen has 365 bigger and smaller islands upon it, one for each day of the year! The lakes are clear and not so cold during the day time and there are many places where you can swim. Every morning since arriving, Hanneke and I have been walking up to a little lake called Trollsjön, which translates as Troll Lake. It’s magical! It’s quiet there and completely refreshing. I’ve now managed to swim to the other side (it’s pretty small, mind) and have found that the exercise has made me very productive during the day, not to mention working wonders to balance my blood sugars.


Jetty Cat

As we’ve been eating breakfast there, for the last two days we’ve been joined by a very friendly cat!

Last weekend there was a music festival in one of Tranås’ parks called Pop i Gapet, featuring local and more nationally acclaimed bands. We all went down both days, I particularly enjoyed Kristian Anttilla and Lissi Dancefloor Disaster – follow the links here to check them out. Although I missed her set, Amanda Selinder was also playing and she is one of the residents here at Kultivera.

IMG_0078My fellow residents

The parks here are so clean – litter really doesn’t seem to feature – and there’s a stunning walk taking you along the river and then back through the woods. We discovered a little cabin yesterday!


A big highlight and inspiration for me, so far, has been the second hand shops! I have counted 7 so far, ranging from antiques and more ‘curated’ shops, as it were, to rooms piled high with curiosities, crockery, old tools, radios and toys. There’s also a Red Cross shop where old men drink tea. My favourite goes by the name of ‘Udda Ting’ (translates as Odd Things). It’s got everything – a lot of vintage kitchenware and textiles incorporating Swedish designs.

I have therefore decided to begin an illustration project drawing the array of objects that end up in second hand shops – people’s possessions and collections that end up there when unwanted, or when those people have moved house or passed on. I’m exploring a few themes and ideas, as well as hoping to do some pattern work inspired by the older / classic Swedish motifs found on objects. We’ll see what happens with that!

Tranås was once the fur capital of Scandinavia although the industry has now declined. The place where we are staying, I think, was a fur factory, and pelts were shipped in from across the world. What is left in the town is a museum that documents and displays the tools, machinery and techniques used within the process. I’ve called in briefly, and plan to go back to look at this in more detail and learn about an important part of the town’s history. Here is a rather nice old map of where the fur was sourced from.


Today has mainly involved a road trip in Elis’ car to Sommen, where we watched some young people put on a play about Pirates. This Thursday I’ll be drawing in Udda Ting, and then on Saturday doing much of the same in Inspirationab where there are more antiques. There’s so much still to explore, and to learn (more Swedish phrases!), and I’m enjoying myself so much already.

I’ve joined Instagram too – have a look here for some more photos. There’s also my Facebook page too where I’ll be posting up artwork and links. I’m going to try and blog each week with images of my work and adventuring.

Now, to eat in the garden and try to avoid getting bitten by midges!

Web Banner for Green City Events

20 Jul

Here is a garden-themed web banner I designed in June for Green City Events, using a paper stencil style.
You can see it here, close up, on their lovely website