One of the best things about being a writer is that you can work from anywhere and at the moment I am in Stockholm. A place steeped in culture, good manners and great socks. Seriously, when you sit on the metro or when you are significantly smaller than the average Scandinavian, socks (or strumpor) are a thing you notice.
I feel so inspired here. Everywhere I look, from the bronze sculptures of whimsical animals to the colourful buildings and choppy waters that flow between the 14 islands is food for the creative monster that lives inside of me. And my writing has definitely benefitted from the change of scene. As has my spirit with all the adventure.
Talking of adventures, I read an article in The Guardian about how the underground stations in Stockholm are also art galleries and decided to investigate.
Armed with a map and a newly topped up metro card I spent a good part of yesterday hopping on and off the train checking out stations decorated with sculptures, photography and beautiful installations. And it was incredible.
I love the whole concept of making art freely accessible to the people. I was also impressed with the implementation and placement. How it brightens up the daily commute with an injection of culture right into the hearts and minds of all the people that ride the train.
Below are five of my favourite Stockholm metro stations.
This station blew my mind. The geometric shapes, the etchings, the science of the art and rainbow lit escalators. By far this was my favourite stop.
Tekniska Högskolan gets its name from the nearby Royal Institute of Technology which fits perfectly with the art of Lennart Mörk that decorates its walls. The work showcased in the station represent the four elements (fire, air, earth and water) as well as the universe as a whole and the advance in technology.
The scale of the sculptures, in particular, the dodecahedron are overwhelmingly impressive. I found myself thinking about them long after my visit to the station was over.
This station features the art of one of Sweden’s most famous artists and sculptors, Siri Derkert. She was the first woman to have a solo art exhibition at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, and her expressionistic style and her personality and beliefs are transparent in her work.
An advocate for peace, environmental issues and feminism she was a perfect choice to decorate the walls of Östermalmstorg, a station that was initially designed to serve as a shelter to shield people from nuclear war. Her designs that fill the station are full of messages of peace and feminism as well as notes from the revolutionary song La Marseillaise. Derkert finished work on Östermalmstorg when she was 77 – Pretty inspiring.
Enno Hallek and Åke Pallarp are the artists behind the stunningly colourful art that celebrates the Stockholm hosted 1912 Olympics. The rainbow in contrast to the blue walls and ceilings are immensely cheerful and have a very unifying feel. I couldn’t stop smiling the whole time I was walking around the station.
Belgian and Parisian artist Françoise Schein is one of the few non-Swedes to design part of the Stockholm metro. Universitetet station is home to Schein’s 12 panels describing the travels of Carl von Linné across the Baltic as well as a tiled mural that resides behind the track titled The UN Declaration of Human Rights. It is both powerful and beautiful.
Now, this station may not typically be seen as one of the standouts on the Metro art tour – It doesn’t look like an underground cave or have sculptures hanging from the ceiling – but it does have some incredible photography. And the simplicity of the hangings and the imagery had a big impact on me. It was both peaceful and very, very human.
The gift of free art is not one to be missed. The Stockholm metro, if you let it, will take you on a journey that will open up your eyes and fill you with a little bit of wonder. At least, that’s what it did for me.
All images by Susie McBeth