We wandered around until it was time to get on the train. The last thing you see as you enter the station to leave is this huge wall piece that just says “Lev!” which translates to “Live!” A nice finale to this great trip and something to live by. It’s my current laptop background as it just cheers me up!
Glass sculpture Grön Eld (Fire in Green) meets you when you arrive by train
I recently went on a long weekend trip to Umeå, a town in the north east coast of Sweden. In 2014 it was named Culture Capital of Europe and I know several people (including mamma noodle) who have attended Umeå University. When Greg first suggested we visit his friends over Easter I didn’t hesitate to say yes! I was also keen to see the first place he lived in Sweden, a place I know is very dear to him. Even though the trip was only for a few nights, I feel like I got a good peek into Umeå and what draws so many people around the world to this town. (Warning for picture heavy post!)
We stayed with close friends to Greg. They were really lovely and welcoming, and are fellow knitters so that says it all really. You never meet a mean knitter, I doubt they exist. On our first night we took a walk in the area where they live. As you can see the landscape is breathtaking, although it took a while to get used to how flat it is and how spread out the town is!
The following day Greg and I borrowed some passes for one of the cult IKSU sports and leisure centre from our hosts, and after a gym session (I stuck to the thread mills after failing to understand several pieces of northern gym equipment) we made good use of the spa facilities. Unfortunately some over-steaming in the sauna knocked me out with a headache in the evening, but it was well worth it!
We obviously had to check out the campus, and Greg’s old student housing and society however as it was Easter it was pretty dead, and everything was sadly under lock and key. It was still fun to see, let’s just say: you know you’re in the north when a student society has a dedicated sauna!
Umeå city centre is surrounded by these gorgeous old wooden houses, it really adds a certain old time atmosphere and small town feel.
Major chocolate milkshakes and a post-milkshake selfie to check double chin status.
This is where Greg used to go “clubbing”. Looks like the damn Grand Budapest Hotel! The outside of my old uni hotspots will not feature on this blog, like ever. Reading clubs can’t even be compared to this pink mansion! We tried to get into the newly built library but it was closed. The view from the building was great though, but I would have loved to take a closer look at these cute chairs and tutu lamps…
Massive sun loungers! I had to take a mini-break..mainly to feel like a miniature version of myself.
We wandered to the local art museum which is also where architecture and art students work in studios overlooking the Ume river. I spotted these paper Adventure Time characters and snapped a shot. All while a guy behind the glass bonded with Greg, both bewildered by what I was doing. I blushed a bit after realising my creepy window peeping had been discovered!
You know you’re around art students when there is creepy art chilling in random places. My absolute favourite piece is the 9 meter tall clothes pin “Skin 4” by Mehmet Ali Uysal outside the art museum. I LOVE THIS! Rethinking everyday items is such a great way of practising art, as it already builds on our own experiences and on great classic design.
We obviously went to see the art inside the museum as well! (Bildmuseet)
This piece allowed the viewer to interact with the art, through locating and playing different radio frequencies with their shaddow. The best was “Russian Uboat”, a play on the recent controversy of a alleged submarine spotting in Swedish waters last summer. (Frequency and Volume by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer)
This piece was so powerful it deserved not one, but two gifs! I know they make my blog load like it’s 1997, but to try and share the experience of this room you need some motion. “Pulse room” is a piece by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, part of his interactive A Draft of Shadows. The room allows the viewer to control lights using their heart beat. We were fortunate enough to enjoy this all to ourselves. It is such an eerie experience, both hearing the heart rate of others and the synchronised pulsating lights. When I took control it felt a bit like the lights were an extension of my body, and the biofeedback response was very intriguing. I highly recommend a visit to the museum just to experience this!
In the evening we met up with Greg’s friends at the milkshake place, Café Göteborg for some local beer and heaps of food. I had the västerbotten pie, delicious! We followed that up with a couple cocktails at a very cool hotel which I can’t remember the name of.
Our last day we took a walk through Umedalen scuplture park with the couple we were staying with. Umeå really does have an interesting art scene, so spotting a horse on a tower for example, is not that unexpected.
We had lots of fun climbing the walls of this sculpture made out of bottle crates. The spring sunshine gave it a playful glow and brought out everyone’s inner monkey. (Winter & Hörbelt’s Kastenhaus 1166.14)
The sculpture park is located on a school’s grounds, and the buildings are actually an old mental institution. I really like the thought of something that is associated with such a negative feelings being used for something positive, and I imagine the old residents of the hospital would have liked to see the windows keeping them from the outside world now bearing kid’s art.
Nosotros by Jaume Plensa
Vegetation Room by Cristina Iglesias
This was my favourite piece from the park, 160 men’s jackets hanging in the trees. (Path II by Kaarina Kaikkonen) Where are they going? Where have they been? What does it mean? Art at it’s best, confusing and amusing.
Heart of Trees by Jaume Plensa & Trajan’s Shadow by Sean Henry