To be an artist
Being an artist has given me many exciting meetings over the years. One of those took place in Gotland 1997 where I met Ellen at the (Villa) Muramaris. Thinking of her the feeling is still strong and the magic lives on within me.
I had never visited this island before. In the mid-eighties when I attended a class of wood engraving, my teacher looked at my works and asked me: Have you been to Gotland? My answer was, no. Go there, he told me, because the sky in Your picture looks just like a Gotland sky. But that sky had to wait for me.
Ten years later, in the mid-nineties an american acquaintance asked me to show my works in New York. I am not ready for that yet, I answered. And the romantic part inside of me thought; why should I go amongst thousands of galleries and even more artists and fortune hunters. Instead of feeling like a drop in the ocean, I would rather come to a lonely island showing my paintings in a house by the sea. My prayer was heard. One year later I was invited to exhibit in Gotland. I had met the sculptor Christer Lönngren who put me in contact with a summer gallery, the Villa Muramaris, just north of Visby. I was to show my works in the former studio of Ellen Roosvall.
Ellen Roosval, born von Hallwyl, one out of the three daughters in the Hallwyl family, was educated in Berlin, Paris and by Carl Milles. She married the art historian Johnny Roosval and together they built their house the Muramaris where they lived for many years. Ellen died in 1952, two years before I was born.
I knew nothing about her and the days before the exhibition I visited the Hallwyl palace in order to find out some things about the artist who’s studio I was about to use for my exhibition. Arriving at her studio in Gotland a few days later, it was with great respect that I stepped over the doorsill.
Still in the room were three big plastercopies of her works; one relief and two sculptures. I brought about twenty works, among them "The Dreamer", with eyes closed and spread out arms. It came to hang along Ellens relief of a figure with spread out arms and the same frontal, straight posture as the figure in my painting. I hung the next painting "Longing to fly", and yet another similarity was there. The girl in my painting holding one arm behind her head, in the same manner as Ellens sculpture "The Egyptian". I had furthermore brought a third large painting with that same title "The Egyptian". I started trembling holding a small paiting in my hand, a green butterfly with spread out wings over a water surface and with a few words in the sand of the seabed: ALL TIME - ALWAYS.
The presence of Ellen was very strong in the room. At the same time a female reporter entered to make an interview. Have you customed your exhibition to fit Ellens works, she asked. No I have never seen them before, I answered. I rather think that Ellen has made this happen, and my tears just flooded. Christer helped me to hang the exhibition and the following day we picked viper’s bugloss, one of Ellens favourite flowers, brought out lovely candlesticks, lit the candles, and at mine and Ellens opening we played her favourite music.
She was a real musiclover, played music herself and also had a great interest for mysticism. That same day at closing time an old lady appeared at the exhibition. Presenting herself as the adopted daugther of Ellen, living in America. She was now on a short trip to Gotland after having seen her mother in a dream where Ellen asked her to visit her at Muramaris. And the room was beautiful just as it ought to be when a daughter comes from far away to visit her mother.