Then This!

Having never been near a submarine in my life, in the last month or so they seem to be popping up everywhere. My tour through Malmö’s Tekniska Museet threw up my third encounter in almost as many weeks.

The U-Boat was horribly cramped and I can’t imagine what it would have been like to have served in one but, more pressing at this particular moment was that the only way out of this exhibit was through the hatch in the bulkhead….

… which revealed the ladder to the top of the conning tower. Then, struggling through the next hatch (I’m 6’1″ and not as flexible as I might be) brought me into the engine room where there still seemed to be a faint whiff of oil. What the air inside the hull must have been like in service, I can only guess at.

I banged my head a couple of times but fortunately no one was around to witness my inelegant gymnastics; I was glad to get out.

A Thulin floatplane. The early aircraft and car manufacturer, Thulin, is not well-known outside Sweden but this wasn’t my first encounter with the marque. An airshow chum, Mikael Carlson, owned and operated (with considerable gusto) a rotary powered Thulin scout of first World War vintage.

We met up on several occasions, this above was at Johannistahl in Berlin, and Mikael enjoyed a couple of trips in my Avro. I seem to recall that he was at the time building a 2-seat Thulin which resembled the 2-seat Sopwith Camel in some respects. My father designed, built and flew scale models of both – I think the plans are still available through one of the model aircraft magazines.

This experimental car was powered by a heat engine and reached a speed of nearly 125mph.

Closer examination revealed a Burman type motorcycle gearbox, probably from a small Triumph and which brought to a close my stroll though the Malmö museum.

Kristianstad Museum sounded interesting and we had plenty of time the next day (and the day after that and the day after that!) to explore. It was largely set up for children, even the exhibits seemed to be at knee height and the only thing of interest was the setting of the Film Museum. Alas, its content didn’t really deliver.

So, the next day I persuaded my long-suffering fellow Magneteer that it was important for us not to miss the Konsthall at Ronneby; it was only 30 minutes away. Lasse Skarbøvik, a contemporary Norwegian artist and designer living in Sweden, had an exhibition of his work in the Kulturcentrum, a fabulous building which must have once been a factory.

The interior is one of the biggest exhibition spaces in Southern Sweden but there was too little work in too big a space and I felt a bit at sea in the middle of it all. I checked Skarbøvik out on Google and his politically orientated work had more of an edge to it; it was a pity that none of it was present.

His fabrics were very corporate – big-business-foyer sort of thing – but great fun.

And with this – Skarbøvik’s show – our cultural ramblings in Sweden were almost at an end.

Then What?

Well, there had to be some more galleries and museums somewhere?

Courtesy Karlskrona Kommun

In fact, I’d missed a trick in Karlskrona; there was a konsthall that I’d not heard about. The permanent exhibition displayed the work of Erik Langemark, a local artist who had recorded the changing face of Karlskrona from the late 30’s onwards. His portfolio – pen and ink sketches, occasionally with a coloured wash – certainly merited attention for its sheer volume and as a social record but his oils were the star turn though they were only to be seen as postcards.

Although not part of the exhibition, this projector couldn’t help but be noticed.

Then on to Malmö which was a good 130 miles away. The city boasted a castle and an art gallery plus the bonus of a technical museum just next door. The castle was, well, like most castles but a picture of this trio was alone, worth the trip.

The art gallery had an impressive interior – all the more effective for the absence of visitors – and the painting at the end of the hall….

… a modest work about 24″ x 24″, was the sole occupant of the vast back wall. I was a bit suspicious – I felt the curator was hedging his bets; if you weren’t particularly enamoured with the artist Carl Kylberg’s work, your disappointment would be compensated for by the spectacle of this splash of colour in the middle of an expanse of magnolia. I wasn’t convinced on either count.

The Malmö Tekniska Museet was more up my street and though not overflowing with fabulous treasures, a few exhibits caught my eye. This 17th Century silver bowl had a very Arts & Crafts feel to it and it was hard to believe it was made in 1690.

This chair was a master class in simplicity and creative genius – all from one piece of plywood. Because of the chair’s context, I didn’t think that it would be anything but Swedish – Scandinavian at least; wrong. British, designed by Gerald Summers in the early 30’s and available through Heals and Harrods.

I must have been half asleep because I didn’t record any of the details of this painting. I think I’ve seen this before somewhere or else it was a painting very much like it. Although not obvious here, the dappled sunlight is the arresting part of the work; it shouts at you from the other side of the room. It’s the sort of painting I’d quite like to copy and have on my wall at home. Unfortunately there isn’t a square inch of wall left in my house, mostly for that very reason.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the lightweight motorcycle ever since I used to whizz around the lanes of Kent on a Solex moped; that was before the helmet law in the early 70’s. I once tracked down and pulled a New Hudson autocycle out of a well. I was after the reversed brake levers that fitted in the ends of the handlebars to complete another New Hudson and, as they were nickel-plated brass, they hadn’t rotted away like most of the rest of the machine.

Anyway, what’s that got to do with anything? There was more to see in the Tekniska Museet.