“Tumba Centrum”. Pencil on paper 21x28cm, 2008

TUMBA

Permanent public comission containing a collection with 78 works; drawings, paintings, watercolours, sculptures and objects, Tumba, Sweden

Exhibition, Botkyrka konsthall 2009


Tumba, now the main town in the Botkyrka area, was only a tiny railway station hamlet halfway between Stockholm and Södertälje at the end of the 19th century. Among the first people to settle here, were tradesman Alfred Eriksson and his wife Matilda. Their son Sven is widely regarded as the area’s most well known historical resident. In later life Sven Xet Erixson (1899 -1970) came to national acclaim as an artist and is counted as one of the finest painters in the history of Swedish art. Xet’s works are to be found in many of the larger art collections in Sweden, and has been an important contribution to immortalise the image of Old Tumba.


During 2008, a new home for the elderly is being built in Tumba. Its name is Silverkronan (in English Silver Crown). The majority of the residents are originally from the local area and many of them have their own personal relationships to Xet’s art. When I received the commission to create the work of art to be placed within Silverkronan, I decided that my starting point was to be the works that Xet created here in Tumba. I became interested in the importance that these works have as first-hand records of what life was like here in the past. Despite their naïve style and lack of pictorial detail, it is still possible to use the paintings to reconstruct an almost complete picture of Old Tumba. Perhaps one might venture that it is the naïve quality of the images that is fundamental to their importance.  Through their poetic realism and charming lack of precision, Xet’s works can evoke fantasies and conceptions of the Old Tumba that other more traditional documentary depictions in film and photographs perhaps cannot. I am reminded of international artists such as Pieter Bruegel and his paintings of rural life in 16th century Holland, or Gustave Doré and his romantic cityscapes of 19th century London. This art has had a strong influence on me due to its very personal style and nearly ethnographical form of expression.


Very few of the old locations that Xet depicted in his work remain today. Among the last places to disappear was the old railway station house that was demolished in the mid 1990s to make way for a more modern commuter train station. At the same time, the town centre of Tumba was rebuilt as an indoor shopping mall. One can imagine that on a daily basis many digital photographs and video sequences would be taken by various surveillance cameras and mobile phones in Tumba Centrum. Quite how these images would look if they were depicted in drawings paintings or sculpture is much a more difficult thing to imagine. I was however fascinated by the possibilities and in the summer of 2008, I explored the Tumba area with a sketchbook and paintbox. I wanted to update the artists’ depictions of the district and began working on the piece Tumba. My interest in Tumba, as in many of my works, is a fascination of the fantasy of moving simultaneously backwards and forwards in time. I find it especially interesting to look back on the completed body of work. Timeless motifs of animals and nature side by side with more typical contemporary depictions. In every sense, this is a contemporary project, made specifically for the Silverkronan and for Tumba. The commissioners of the work also expressed their wishes that the work I made should have a lasting quality, something that can be displayed in a distant future. I find it very interesting that the way in which the work is viewed will change with time. I imagine certain differences between the depictions of nature and the depictions of more cultural motifs. “That’s how it looks”, will give way to “that’s how it looked”. The style of clothing worn by the customers in the shopping mall is constantly changing, in contrast to the oaks in the nature reserve. Cows and boulders will look the same as they always have, but will anyone remember the popularity of a certain kind of plastic sandal in the early years of the 21st century? Before the drawing was completed, the subjects had passed by. By tomorrow, they might have all bought themselves new clothes or shoes. A few days later some of them might be dead. My thoughts are drawn to the old apartment held by the local school-teacher, preserved and restaged at the Tumba folk museum. The painted depiction of this place is perhaps more illusory than the place itself. Is the painting a depiction of the past, or of the present?


When they have found their places in the Silverkronan, I have thought that the paintings, sculptures and objects might function as a kind of extension of ones perspective or vision; a window on a distant room, but with the passage of time, the distant room must also exist in a distant past. Given that many of the residents have restricted mobility, the places represented in the collection of works might allow for short excursions in the local surroundings or in the imagination; excursions to the Tumba of the early 21st century or to the more timeless surrounding natural areas. I also see this catalogue as part of the artwork. The Silverkronan has limited space for the exhibition of large works of art. Instead of creating a limited number of representative works, I have created a wider body of work that does not have to be displayed in its entirety. The collection of works will be stored at the Silverkronan and with the help of the catalogue, the residents and staff will be able to make decisions about what works should be shown at any given time.


Martin Karlsson, September 2008

“Länsmansvägen”. Oil on paper 34,5x45,5cm, 2008

“Gas Station, Dalvägen”. Watercolor on paper 30,8x42,3cm, 2008

“Boulder, Ursviken", pencil on paper, 29,7x40,5cm, 2008, "Ekholmen Nature Reserve", pastel on paper, 58x42cm, 2008

“Botkyrka Library”, watercolor and pencil on paper 17,5x24,5cm, 2008

“Goat, 4H-Farm Hågelby Park” pencil on paper 29,7x40,5cm, 2008

“Duck, Hågelby Park”, oil on canvas, 33x43cm, 2008

Installation view, Botkyrka konsthall, 2009

Maps of the Tumba-area

Inspiration: Tumba-paintings by Sven Xet Erixsson

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