This weekend, I went over to Vadstena for the annual konstrunda.
Not entirely sure how to translate the word konstrunda - It's a bit like a pub crawl, where instead of walking from pub to pub and downing pints, you walk from pop up gallery to pop up gallery to imbibe in art! Factor in to the equation that the artists are local to Vadstena, their work is generally autobiographical (i.e. lots of self portraits) and the quality of the art on display can best be described as 'variable' and you have all the ingredients for a perfect day out.
To my untrained, but art loving eye, there's usually one or two nuggets of art that make you stand back, scratch your brow and ponder the human condition.... Or at least consider buying it and putting it on your wall.
Over the years I have brought back various pieces that now adorn my walls: A rural wash of the Östgöta landscape, a cityscape, an abstract piece made of rusty metal. And the highlight that has set the standard for all Vadstena Konstrundas, a print on metal of a photograph of 1960's Birmingham. Specifically, an overpass in the Bull Ring.
The Bull Ring that we Brummies grew up with is now long gone. In fact around the time I was bidding my farewells to Birmingham in the early nineties, the Bull Ring was already being redeveloped. To us eighties kids, the Bull Ring embodied everything about concrete brutalism and post war urban planning gone wrong. It was horrible. No matter how much people try to romanticise it, it was still horrible.
So there I was in a barn in the middle of one of the mildest parts of Sweden, a world apart from Birmingham, to find a photo of part of my home town, a part that no longer existed apart from in people's memories. Don't get me wrong, I think most people remember the Bull Ring with affection, but nobody really misses it. And here was a photo from just after it had been built, when the future looked bright and people were still kidding themselves that the urban regeneration of overpasses and underpasses and strip lighting was the future.
The photographer is called Leif O Pehrson and I hope one day he gets to exhibit his work in Birmingham. Check out his work here.
This year, there was nothing that caught my eye enough to merit paying real money for, so I settled for a chocolate cake and some cream. I looked at it on my plate for a few seconds, admired its artistic value and then scoffed it down.
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