As I sit here wearing my H&M Sarah Lundesque knitted jumper, I hear that Beyoncé is the new face of Swedish brand H&M. The summer campaign shows the singer looking very sultry and beautiful wearing exotic swimwear on a tropical beach (definitely not a Scandi image)! Impressive how well H&M has done since it was founded in 1947, in the little town of Västrås, close to Stockholm, where my mum in fact grew up. H&M is good fashion- up-to-date, affordable and fun; it doesn’t last forever but you don’t really care at that price.
It is extremely unusual to see a play in London’s West End in Swedish with English sub-titles. Yet this is what will happen in April as Krister Henriksson, known best to us as the opera loving, diabetic detective Kurt Wallander, takes to the boards in a one man stage adaption of Hjalmar Söderberg’s hauntingly gripping novel, Doktor Glas. Set in early twentieth century Stockholm, the book tells the story of a young physician who falls obsessively in love with one of his patients, Helga, the local priest’s wife.
I saw Doktor Glas when it was showing at Stockholm’s Royal Dramatic Theatre, and Henriksson really is fabulous. He was on stage, without an interval, for just under an hour and a half in a highly demanding role and held the audience captivated throughout. The actor got a standing avation, and in Sweden (not a nation known for outward displays of wild enthusiasm), this really is high praise indeed. Henriksson was good as Wallander but is exceptional as Doktor Glas; see the play at Wyndham’s Theatre from 16th April to 11th May.
Noma, the two Michelin starred restaurant in Copenhagen, voted the world’s best restaurant three years in a row, has been hit with food poisoning. 63 out of 78 customers who ate there over a four day period came down with Roskilde virus causing vomiting and diarrhoea. It is most unusual for Scandinavians not to be scrupulous about hygiene- perhaps this was just extremely bad luck. Everyone I know who has dined at Noma describes an exceptional culinary adventure; I have a feeling that Noma will ride this wave…
It has not been a great week for Scandinavian food what with horse meat discovered in Ikea meatballs (no surprises there- nasty processed things, no patch on the real thing), and more worryingly Ikea chocolate almond cake discovered to contain ‘faecal bacteria’. I think Ikea furniture is fantastic for lots of purposes but on a recent visit to Ikea in North London, I thought all the food on offer in the restaurant was pretty much inedible; not a great advert for Scandi food which can be delicious.
It is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Scandinavia’s best known artist, Edvard Munch (1863-1944). In celebration of this anniversary my favourite gallery in Stockholm, Thielska Galleriet (The Thiel Gallery), is holding an exhibition Munch! -Nietzsche, Thiel and Scandinavia’s greatest artist. The exhibition, featuring works from 1880-1910, includes more than twenty of Munch’s oil paintings and a large number of the artist’s prints.
The exhibition’s focal point is Munch’s magnificently expressive portrait of the great philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. The work was commissioned by Ernest Thiel, the successful Swedish banker and patron of Munch who built Thielska Gallery as his private home and to house his top-class collection of Scandinavian and Continental European art. Highlights of the exhibition include, Despair (the first version of The Scream) and the highly moving Sick Child, a portrait of Munch’s dying sister, Sophie.
Thielska is a gem of a gallery, built in 1907, in the setting of Djurgården, a beautiful watery parkland, formally the King of Sweden’s hunting ground. The Art Nouveau house overlooks the sea and has a lovely sculpture garden which includes sculptures by Rodin and the Norwegian, Gustav Vigelund. I have been to the gallery numerous times and never tire of it.
Munch!-Nietzsche, Thiel and Scandinavia’s greatest artist is on at Thielska Galleriet, Stockholm until 12th May.
Currently showing at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston is an exhibition by one of Sweden’s greatest artists, Anders Zorn (1860-1920). The exhibition entitled Anders Zorn: A European Artist Seduces America, concentrates on Zorn’s work from 1890 to the early 1900s. Zorn painted several key society figures in America at the time among them the energetic art collector and philanthropist, Isabella Stewart Gardner, Zorn’s most important patron in America.
The exhibition runs until 13th May.
Here is my first post. I spend a large bulk of my time working and enjoying Nordic culture, and I thought it would be fun to share my passion in a blog. From Nordic crime fiction to on the pulse Scandinavian fashion labels, Scandi culture is everywhere. There is more to enjoy than Wallander and The Killing. I hope to keep you updated on all things connected to Nordic style and culture.
For starters, If you missed Hedda Gabler on Radio Four today, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s classic drama recorded from the recent top-class Old Vic production, listen to it for seven more days on BBC IPlayer.