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The story behind Liljevalchs' new art gallery
“Glass is treacherous. It can so easily become grotesque.” These are the words of Ingegerd Råman, the minimalist poet of contemporary glass and one of Orrefors’ most famous designers.
Everything began with clay and her studies at the University of Arts, Crafts & Design. But above all, it was her delicate glass objects that gradually enchanted the entire world. She has worked with architecture and public art since 2003, when she was invited to participate when architect Gert Wingårdh designed the House of Sweden in Washington, D.C.
The pair has completed their work with Liljevalchs+, the extended building to Liljevalchs art gallery. “My collaboration with Gert involves a continuous dialogue, to which Gert often adds and from which I draw,” says Ingegerd. “In a world filled with impressions, I relate a bit like a haiku; I want to gather and reduce,” explains Råman.
From the exterior, the concrete facade is brought to life by a grid of round glass prisms, lenses that reflect light in different ways at different times of day and depending on the weather over the course of the year. From a distance, we see a dotted building or simply a sculpture of shimmering sequins. Up close, we see something else: the glass lenses resemble bottle bottoms. Variations in the density of the glass bring the facade to life. “Gert made the holes and I filled them”, laughs Ingegerd. “It was hard to find the right manufacturer for the glass elements. Eventually, we found a bottle producer north of Venice that could make completely clear glass without any hint of green. And it worked well!”
More prisms were made than the building needed. These “bottles” are now available to buy in the museum shop, equipped with a shiny metal lid with different openings. This way, the bottles can be transformed into vases, if desired. The fact that they have become so popular that they continue to be produced is consistent with Ingegerd Råman’s philosophy: “I object to uniqueness as intrinsically valuable. If something is good, surely it can’t be made worse because more people own it? On the contrary, it makes me happy if I see that someone has something I own myself; there’s simply a sense of security in those reunions. My responsibility as a designer is to offer something and be accountable for the quality of craftsmanship.”
At the Liljevalchs+ opening, Ingegerd Råman and Gert Wingårdh inaugurated the exhibition rooms together, each with their own exhibition. Ingegerd created brand-new pieces for the show, adapted to the room. The result – a collection of glass cylinders, displayed and arranged on long podiums. The vases had different lines, hand-made by engraver Kristina Lundh. The exhibition also included a video projection of a waterfall. ”At our latitudes, we are actually surrounded by water in every form: ice, fog, snow, the black lake, flowing water. It’s a challenge to convey, but water has continuously inspired me.”
The shifts between clear and opaque glass, the size and positions of the cylinders are, according to Råman, like a score that the glass could “play” with the room. In this way, the viewer is offered the chance to have an experience of calm, as in meditation, in the interplay between surfaces, reflections, materials and shadows.
The exhibition is no longer up, but some objects might become part of a larger production and collaboration with Orrefors. “Reaching the optimal object that can be duplicated – it’s like dancing. I present something, and then I collaborate with craftspeople and industry toward achieving a realization of the idea, of perfection. I think that people are more similar than dissimilar. So when something is good, it’s obvious.”
By Maria Lantz
Photography: Liljevalchs, Mattias Lindbäck.