Reflections on the Culture Trail, Sundborn

These are my best set of pictures from our autumn visit to Sweden. It was a day of clear blue skies and cold weather but beautiful colours. Sundborn is only 20 minutes from Falun and a location full of photographic opportunities – especially reflections in the river. After taking the tour of the beautiful and iconic Carl Larsson-gården we had a picnic in the sunshine on the lawns of Stora Hyttnäs and then took the Culture Trail north to Sundborn Kyrka and Toftan.

http://sundborn.com/ks/en/karta/

Sundborn’s Culture Trail

The first picture shows the vivid autumn colours in the trees and vegetation along the river bank south of the Carl Larsson-gården. It’s pretty much the view you get of the river from the gardens themselves. They’re really nice to stroll around whilst you wait for your guided tour of the house.

Sundborn Autumn Höst Dalarna Sweden Fujifilm

Autumn Colours, Sundborn

The culture trail takes you along the river: stopping either at interesting locations where Larsson painted or the other historical sites of Sundborn. The hydro-power station is one of those sites, it was built just after 1900 and is located on the rapids a short walk from Larsson’s house – he provided the sketches for the design of the building and got his electric power from there. This is the view of the power station from downstream.

Sundborn Autumn Höst Dalarna Sweden Fujifilm

The Power Station, Sundborn

On the upstream side are these impressive sluices that control the flow of water into the turbines. There’s a walkway over the river so you pass right next to them. Their reflections are pictured here.

Sundborn Autumn Höst Dalarna Sweden Fujifilm

Power Station Sluices, Sundborn

Across the water you’ll see the tiled roofs of the old farm buildings that feature in some of Larsson’s paintings. They give you a nice taste of the picturesque nature of the old town that the trail takes you through.

Sundborn Autumn Höst Dalarna Sweden Fujifilm

Roof reflections, Sundborn

The next picture shows the buildings along Kyrkvägen that front on to the river. It’s taken from the opposite bank on the pathway along to the old wash house. It’s a very picturesque setting.

Sundborn Autumn Höst Dalarna Sweden Fujifilm

Looking across the Sundbornsån, Sundborn

When you reach the old wash house – it’s now a sauna – you can look back along the river. There’s a lovely composition where the trees frame the river that recedes away from the viewer. I was lucky because a scattering of light cumulus clouds also provided a top and bottom frame to complete the picture.

Sundborn Autumn Höst Dalarna Sweden Fujifilm

Looking down the Sundbornsån, Sundborn

Once you’ve walked through the old town to the church you get lovely views of the lake – Toftan – that opens up before you.

Sundborn Autumn Höst Dalarna Sweden Fujifilm

Toftan, Sundborn

I took this last picture when we got back to Larsson’s house. It’s called Summer’s End because it has a real end-of-season feel to it. The boats and canoe belong to the relatives of Larsson who still have summer houses on the property. Soon their river craft will be stored away for the winter.

Sundborn Autumn Höst Dalarna Sweden Fujifilm

Summer’s End, Sundborn

The pictures were all taken using the Velvia Vivid setting on my Fujifilm X100F. It gives a great depth of colour – especially the blues. I used my two converter lenses – wide angle and tele converter – for the pictures.

The many shades of Falu Red – Falu Rödfärg – Sweden’s favourite colour.

Think of rural Sweden and forests, lakes, fields and fells spring to mind – wonderfully green in summer and white in winter. The houses, farms and barns will almost all be painted in Sweden’s favourite colour – Falu Red or Falu Rödfärg – that comes from the 1000 year old copper mine in Falun, Dalarna.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Sundborn Dalarna Sweden

Riverside houses in Falu Rödfärg, Sundborn

I’ve always found the red to be very attractive – not least because it changes shades depending on the light and the season. When it’s cloudy in summer then it is matte and has a clay-like texture and appearance. I’ve chosen this picture of the doorway to Sundborn church steeple because it shows this – there’s also beautiful wood work in the overlapping tiles of wood. The colour is very similar to the red-brown laterite soils where we lived in Ruiri, Kenya. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons that I like it so much.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Sundborn Dalarna Sweden

Sundborn steeple doorway in Falu Rödfärg

In dappled summer light it’s still soft but with brighter and darker red patches where there’s light and shade. You can see this on the main church building at Sunburn that has a large oak tree spreading shade across the roof and walls. Sundborn church is a beautiful village just outside Falun with a lovely heritage walk that features the locales of Carl Larsson’s famous paintings. The church is part way round the walk.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Sundborn Dalarna Sweden

Sundborn church in Falu Rödfärg

You also go past this lovely old barn on the riverbank.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Sundborn Dalarna Sweden

Old riverside barn in Falu Rödfärg, Sundborn

The real richness of Falu Red comes out in this next picture. It’s almost orange-red on the main wall of the church in the foreground. Falu Red, white and green are a really common summer colour mix.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Sundborn Dalarna Sweden

Sundborn church tower in Falu Rödfärg, Sundborn

Winter is a different story. All of the green will be gone and replaced with white when there’s been snow. Falu Red is particularly striking when there are cold blue skies behind bare tree branches.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Falun Dalarna Sweden Elsborg

Falu Rödfärg in winter, Elsborg, Falun

These two pictures were taken in Elsborg – the beautifully preserved historic quarter of Falun – during the particularly long, cold winter this year.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Elsborg Dalarna

Winter street scene of Falu Rödfärg, Elsborg, Falun

I had to use a very wide angle lens to capture the sky and clouds in these scenes. Even with the sun at a low angle the Falu Red is vibrant. If you are lucky and there are no clouds then you can get red reflections in the snow.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Dalarna Sweden Stångtjärn, Falun

Reflection of Falu Rödfärg on snow, Stångtjärn, Falun

The wall in this picture shows the yellow-orange colour that you can get when the clear winter light hits the paint horizontally. It’s almost mirror-like. This last picture was taken at Romme Alpin, it’s mostly blue and white, with just a little Falu Red to hint at summer’s warmth.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Dalarna Sweden Romme Alpin

Falu Rödfärg on the ski slopes, Romme Alpin, Falun

 

Trees – at Space Creative and Culinary on October 28th

I always like to make a mosaic of the images I’m going to show.  So this first picture’s your overview of the 14 images that’ll be up for sale at Space Creative and Culinary, 14 Fitzroy Street, Grahamstown on 28th October.  They’re almost all pictures of trees: Balanites, Baobab, Birch, Cabbage,  Fig, Fever, Hornbeam, Oak, Shepherd’s and Yellowwood.

Trees Exhibition

The first thing you’ll see is that some of them are naturalistic but others are mirrored or overlaid to show their fractal designs.  The four images on the top row are all single African trees pictured against the sky.  I’ve mounted them simply on card and they’re printed on enhanced matte paper – they sell for R750 each.

In the second row there’s the Fig Tree from the Botanic Gardens in Grahamstown on the left hand side and two Hogback Yellowwoods twining around each other on the right hand side. These two look quite special as they’re printed on brushed aluminium dibond – they’re the most expensive items for sale at R2500 each.

The black and white mirrored image of the Baobabs is between them, it was taken in the Okavango panhandle.  Printed on glossy paper and mounted behind glass with a black wooden frame it’s priced at R1500.

Baobab Temple

Two green mirrored images come next.  Both pictures were taken in Sweden: on the left is an Oak above the Göta River and on the right is a Hornbeam at Tureborg in Uddevalla.  They’re R2000 each, block mounted and printed on enhanced matte paper.

The three images of spiders’ webs were all taken early one misty morning at Tsitsa Falls in the Eastern Cape.  They’re printed on enhanced matte paper and block mounted ready to be hung –  they also sell for R2000 each.

The final two images are the most complex. They repeatedly mirror, overlay and use positive and negative versions of one lone Birch tree that I photographed silhouetted against the deep blue arctic sky at Tromsø in Norway.  They’re also block mounted, enhanced matte images and sell for R2500 each.

 

The Dryad series: Symmetry Exhibition, National Arts Festival 2017

This post’s about the Dryad series.  They are the seven images that make up almost a quarter of my exhibition – Symmetry – which is at the Carinus Arts Centre for the National Arts Festival from 29 June to 9 July 2017.  I wanted to explore what happened when I placed a person into my images – rather than finding a Green Man or a fantastical pattern in them. I did that by projecting some images I’d prepared on to Natalie – she’s the dryad in the shoot – as she stood in front of a screen.  When her back’s turned she becomes enigmatic with a big shadow playing across the forest.

Stained Glass Dryad Original

I must say that technically this was really tricky to do.  Fortunately the mirrored organic shapes I’d chosen could be draped down her spine and that was really evocative.  The next picture’s from the exhibition. It shows the filigree of a tree-like skeleton in/on her dryad body.

Dryad

Some time later I decided to mirror the dryad images and construct a triptych.  The two pictures here have the mirrored dryads on either side of the original.

Stained Glass Dryad

Green Dryad

All of the pictures so far have shown a dryad within a scene but I also projected one of my favourite tree images on to her so she became the screen.  In Scarab Dryad I love the way the tree branches burst out of her neck whilst a runic scarab perches on her shoulders.

Scarab Dryad

When I made the runic tree image smaller – so that it just fitted in her back – it makes the curved shape of an angel’s wing.  You can see there’s a wing on the back of each of the mirrored dryads in the Angel Dryad triptych.  The wings reappear as overlays in the original runic tree in the centre.  The contrast of the burning wings on the slender body reminds me strongly of William Blake’s etchings.

Angel Dryad

Lastly I did something quite fantastical.  I made Dryad Fantasy by overlaying the runic tree with the Angel Dryads in a multiplicity of mirrored images.  So it’s a re-composition of the originals: re-imagined shapes with new patterns and forms.

Dryad Fantasy

I wrote about some of these pictures last year when they were still a work in progress. If you are interested there are more pictures and descriptions in these posts.: Triptychs 1: Stained GlassTriptychs 2: The Figure in the ForegroundTriptychs 3: Angel Wings.

The Three Green Men: Symmetry Exhibition, National Arts Festival 2017

My solo exhibition – Symmetry – is at the Carinus Arts Centre for the National Arts Festival from 29 June to 9 July 2017. I’ve decided to write a series of posts about the images that are in it so that you can see what it is about.  When you walk into the exhibition you’ll immediately pass by the three green men.  One of them is so striking that I chose it for the poster and advertising.  Here he is.

Äsperöd Green Man Final

It’s an image of a Scots Pine tree (tal in Swedish) deep in the forest near our apartment in Äsperöd, Sweden.  I’ve mirrored it into two and also overlaid the image on itself.  This is the original.

Äsperöd Green Man Original

I took the picture one evening last September (early autumn in Sweden) when the light was soft and diffuse.  That meant I got an image with lots of detail and I could increase the contrast and saturation in post production to give the final picture more impact.

The Green Man is thought to be a pagan symbol of rebirth – that’s according to Wikipedia anyway – and found in architectural motifs right across Europe.  It’s usually a face made of branches, leaves, fruit and vines.  That’s certainly the case with the second green man too.

Göta Green Man Final

This image’s of an oak (ek) tree showing the first autumn colours and I’ve used the identical processes of mirroring and overlay on it.  The foliage is far more dense and so the image is much more richly textured.

Göta Green Man Original

I took the original at lunchtime whilst walking in the nature reserve above the Göta River in Trollhättan.  Once again I made sure that the light was soft and diffuse.  The third green man is a little different.  He’s an artefact made of driftwood in Lars Vilk’s amazing construction called Nimis  located in Skåne.

Nimis Green Man Final

I like the way he just stands there with his arms on his hips.  There’s something oriental, almost samurai-like, about his presence as though he’s covered in armour. Here’s the original picture.  It’s taken with a fish-eye lens from the walkway that tunnels between the towers.

Nimis Green Man Original

It was an overcast, drizzly October day so I managed to get all three images to complement each other nicely in terms of light conditions.

Arena Exhibition at the Festival Gallery: Stendörren Dreamscape

The National Arts Festival sets up the Arena Exhibition as an opportunity to showcase your artwork.  My problem was which piece to decide on.  I settled on this dreamy looking landscape taken late last September at Stendörren Nature Reserve in Sweden.  It’s looking west into the sun (which all camera makers tell you never to do) reflecting over the sea.

Stendörren Dreamscape

I like the tranquility, the curling clouds and the range of blues which make you wonder is it night or day?

The Arena Exhibition opens on Monday 20th June and will end on the last day of Festival, Sunday 10th July 2016.  It’s held at the Festival Gallery on Somerset Street, Grahamstown.