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.

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The Last Time…

… I was in Sweden was with the Avro 504k for the 75th anniversary of the Swedish Air Force. We whipped the wings off and bunged G-ECKE in the back of a lorry for the journey from Suffolk – it was too difficult to fly there because of the Avro’s lack of speed (therefore range) and the requirement for into-wind grass at each fuel stop. The crew jumped on a scheduled flight into Malmo and a Piper twin picked us up for the last leg to Ljungbyhed. There we were issued with bicycles and shown our rooms in one of the military barracks. The Avro had turned up a few hours before us so the next morning we put it all back together again and waited for the wind to die down for the test flights in the evening.

Ljungbyhed 1

It all went very well and we were royally treated by the charming Swedes. Mikael Carlson was there with his Tummelisa – we’d met him in Berlin a couple of years before….

Ljungbyhed 2

and there was a trio of Stieglitz and a couple of Tiger Moths, so enough to keep us all interested.

Ljungbyhed 3

But my abiding memory of the week was a visit to a junk shop in the village. I dug out an excellent painting by Aage Schad and didn’t pay a great deal for it. Naturally, when you find something in a junk shop that’s clearly a lost masterpiece, the first thing you think about is how to smuggle it out of the country. Well, the tailplane of the Avro was big enough to seat 12 for dinner so slipping the painting under it for the journey home on the lorry was the obvious choice.

Schad 1

Aage Schad was known for his landscapes so the portrait might well have been a one-off; certainly its size was unusual for Schad. And all this happened in the days before the internet took off so it was quite difficult to pin him down. Of course, there was plenty about his much more famous namesake, Christian Schad (who I thought initially it could have been) and it’s only relatively recently that Aage Schad’s information has become more accessible. That still leaves me in the dark about the identity of his sitter who, as the painting is dated 1946, looks like he’s been through the wars.

Schad 2

Some research based on a comment that Schad was associated with Bornholm (a Danish island south of Sweden) led me to the Bornholm school of painters and to the wartime history of the island. Occupied by Germany in 1940, the German forces refused to surrender to the Russians at the end of the conflict and there were some pretty nasty consequences for everyone on the island until the occupiers relented. The sitter in Schad’s painting has always looked to me like a prisoner of war and reading about Bornholm’s history supports my initial instinct; Schad might well have painted this portrait while staying there.  Back home, I took the painting to a major auction house and left it with them for a few days. When I got it back there was a fleck of paint missing from the middle of the subject’s forehead. Thanks. And to add insult to injury, not much more than I paid for it was reckoned as its sale value.

Philistines; that’s the last time I do that.