Sandra Carpenter takes us to Artipelag – the perfect marriage of art and nature in Stockholm’s archipelago.
We are just 20 minutes from the center of Stockholm, but it feels like we are miles from anywhere. Walking along the wooden boardwalk, we pass through a pine and birch forest and make our way to the ancient and rounded rocks along the water. A duck family of six floats by and though the sky is gray, the navy blue water of the Baltic Sea is clear.
The idyllic mood continues even after we walk into the enormous front entrance of Artipelag some minutes later. Thanks to the big windows looking into the trees and the rocks that have been incorporated into the building’s design, nature still surrounds us.
Artipelag is an art hall/gallery space/cultural center surrounded by forest and sea. The name is meant to be a combination of art, activities and archipelago. Opened in 2012, it’s on Värmdö, an island in the Stockholm Archipelago. The space is the brainchild of Björn Jakobson, creator of BabyBjörn, and he is passionate about the art and the view.
In an interview in the Artipelag magazine, Jakobson says, “I want people to come here and experience the nature. There are so many beautiful trees, ant-hills and moss-covered stones to look at and rocks to sit on with views of Baggensfjärden bay. I think I could talk about this place until the cows come home.”
I get what he means. This place is special. The building seems to perfectly capture that Scandinavian aesthetic of clean lines and natural beauty and then enhances it by placing it in a spectacular setting. There’s a restaurant serving up classically good Swedish cuisine. And then all this is topped off with new art exhibits every quarter.
The current show is No Man Is an Island: Artistic forays into the Stockholm Archipelago. It’s an exhibition made for this the setting and it features art inspired by the archipelago. Works include paintings from the end of the 19th century until now, including such classic Swedish painters as Anders Zorn, August Strindberg, Albert Engström and Bruno Liljefors. Newer works pay homage to the setting as well and include bronzes by Carl Boutard, who takes his inspiration directly from the grounds surrounding Artipelag.
“It features the archipelago and the old giants of painting,” explains our tour guide Niklas about the exhibition. “The show has different views of the archipelago and describes how these views change with the artist and over time.”
To make the most of the show, he recommends going to the back of the exhibit first and then working your way forward. That way, you start with the paintings from the end of the 18th century and end up with the most recent works.
As for what to do on your visit, Niklas recommends “going to the exhibit first and taking part in one of the introductions.” Held every hour by one of the guides, these provide an overview of the exhibit and talk about the themes and the art. The talks are in Swedish, but can be in English on request.
To find out even more about the show, check out the iPads with information about each exhibition, located just outside the entrance to the gallery area. This information can also be downloaded onto your own phone or iPad.
“Next, take a walk outside through the trees to the sea, and then up to the roof terrace to see the view, sculptures and kitchen gardens there. Come back in later for fika (coffee and a sweet roll). It’s an excursion to come here, so take the time to enjoy it. It’s a good idea to come for the day.”
Artipelag also features other cultural events and this fall, an opera will be shown. An emphasis is also put on food here. The restaurant upstairs is more formal dining in style and includes a seafood buffet. We ate shrimp, herring, and cheese, then sampled caviar, the vasterbotten quiche, salmon, and finally the dessert buffet. The larger café on the first floor serves brunch and lunch.
On a recent Saturday when I visited, Jakobson was walking around the exhibition, checking to make sure everything was as it should be. Even though he is nearly 80, he still visits regularly. When I complimented him on Artipelag, he was obviously proud. As he should be. This space offers a glimpse into Stockholm’s beautiful archipelago, with some thought-provoking art thrown in for good measure.
Getting to Artipelag is easy by bus, car or boat from Nybrokajen. The boat runs from Tuesday to Saturday in summer. Admission is 150 kronor.
The exhibition No Man is an Island is at Artipelag until September 28. Four shows are held per year.
The café is open Monday through Friday with a lunch buffet. And on weekends, there is a brunch buffet. There is a new menu each week, plus a base of different salads and soups.
Good to know: Artipelag is located in Värmdö, just outside of Stockholm, on 54 acres ofland. Inside, the space is about 32,000 square feet and includes a large art hall and a shop with custom-designed products. The site also has Artbox, a concert, event and studio space of 13,000 square feet. There are also activity spaces for children, conference rooms of varying size, and two restaurants – both with outdoor serving. Be sure to check out the toilets in the lower level.
Click here to see pictures of Artipelag in the winter.