I attended the opening of Chelsea Flower Show last week. The hugely talented Swedish landscape architect, Ulf Nordfjell, who has designed and won prizes for several gardens at Chelsea in the past, did not appear this year. However, there was a distinct Scandinavian flavour in the Viking Cruises garden, designed by Alan Gardner- birch tree and delicate white and blue flowers; cool, fresh and contemporary. A mirrored sculpture clean cut resembled the helm of a Viking ship. The pale wooden floor was wet (I am not quite sure if this was deliberate or whether it was because it had rained earlier in the day) but it had the feel of running out of the sea dripping wet and heading straight for the sauna, then running out again and repeating the experience.
Viking Cruises Garden, Chelsea Flower Show.
There were some beautiful gardens at Chelsea and it was a joy to walk around. I particularly liked the smaller artisan gardens- charming, quirky and full of personality and character.
Sotheby’s held their annual Scandinavian sale (a section of their European nineteenth century paintings auction) on Wednesday. Their star lot was an exquisite oil, Interior, Strandgade 30 by Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi. The painting made £2 million against a pre-sale estimate of £700,000-£900.000, a new world record for the artist and for any Danish artist at auction. This tranquil, beautifully painted work depicting Hammershøi’s Copenhagen flat fully deserved a strong price and is proof again that Hammershøi is up there on the international stage.
Vilhelm Hammershoi (1864-1916), Interior at Strandgade 30,
I am back! Now that my youngest is seven months old, I feel (sort of) that life is getting a bit calmer and vaguely under control and I might have time to write this blog, and now, with two little ones, I will be writing more about Scandinavian kiddie stuff!
Also back is Scandi drama on BBC4, this time with an historical drama, 1864, produced by the same team behind Borgen and the Killing. There are familiar faces from these two programmes- showcasing Denmark’s finest acting talent, including Lars Mikkelsen, Pilou Asbaek and the fabulous Sidse Babett Knudsen (the prime minister from Borgen), here playing the greatest actress of her time.
The Danes don’t normally do history on television (they are modern and contemporary types) but 1864 is a critical year in Danish history- indeed it shaped the face of modern Denmark; the second Schleswig War was fought by the Danes against Prussia over the territories of Schleswig and Holstein with bloody consequences.
This epic series, which is being shown in eight parts, requires our full concentration but immediately had me gripped. There are some beautiful picturesque shots of nineteenth century Denmark. There are flash backs from the present day (something I am not normally keen on) but here it is done with poignancy and thought, and I think works, reminding us of the historical importance of the 1864.
The series, already with its share of sadness, is likely to get tougher and gritter. But it is beautifully made with the superb acting- I can’t recommend it enough.