• Blå Hulken John Placering Vegaskolan Vännäs
  • Blå Hulken John Vegaskolan Vännäs.

Offentlig utsmyckning Vegaskolan Vännäs 2015

Public Commission ”Blue Hulk John”

There is something special about making a public artwork. On the one hand, I have the opportunity to design a special idea, on the other hand, I can set myself aside for a while and ask for a site-specific story that can provide an input for the artwork. So that both the viewer and my eye is filtered through the story and affect the object’s execution. A double satisfaction.

The story behind the sculpture begins in a storytelling workshop with class 5B Vega school in Vännäs in August 2014. In preparation for the workshop, the children had asked their family’s if they could tell a memorable story. It could be taken place anytime and was happy to feel the children in the story. I offered them juice, showed little crafts and played a game called “Loosestick” with them to make them loose.

After a while, the students enthusiastically began telling me fantastic stories. One of the students, Isac Danielsson excitedly raised his hand and says he would not have existed if it was not for the great grandfather!
Once when he was visiting his grandmother Gunilla she had been terribly afraid of lighting candles. He asked why, and she had begun to tell the following story:

“Once when I was five, I woke up in the middle of the night by the mother screamed,” Fire! “The bedroom was full of smoke and my dad, my brother and I woke up right away, but my younger sister was difficult to wake, because she was so dazed of the smoke.
We all lived in a bedroom on the second floor and when father John had realized that the stairs were impossible as an escape route, he jumped out the window for help. It was winter and deep snow outside which dampened the shock when he landed, so that went at least well.
When mother Lisbeth heard the roar of the fire in the stairs, she thought it took a long time and began to tie together sheets that we could climb our way out.
But at the same moment John came. He had found a large heavy ladder that is normally needed three men to carry. From where he got his strength I do not know, but after a while he had raised the ladder up to the wall , so much snow there was, toward the window. First the older child climb down, and last came the mother with little brother in her arms who was only an infant.
Shortly after we were rescued, we heard the floor in the hallway upstairs collapse of the fire”.

Thoughts and technicalities
My choice of story fell out naturally when Isaac’s story elicited the strong image of John standing there in the snow, with all his strenght, very red in the face. Pumping of adrenaline to save his family.
It is widely testified that humans can perform super powers when it really counts. The scupture Johns chest is made out two pieces hold together by four pegs. He is being torn in half in despair of his family may burn to death inside the house.
The sculpture “Blue Hulk John” is a metaphor for courage and that effort can bring results.
Especially in situations when life comes to a head. When it really matters.
The ladder is an allegory, a pictorial artwork of gaining knowledge. You can always climb a notch higher to understand the world and its context in a broader perspective. As a metaphor that curiosity broadens the knowledge of the outside world.
Life becomes rungs of a ladder twisted into each person’s existence.

The red cross on the wall is symbolic for the momentum and the energy contained in the dramatic fire and the rescue. The four hearts that revolves around the cross is John’s family. The symbol is called The Power Cross.

Little about Isac great grandfather John Eklund (- f 18). He had business in Byssträsk and rebuilt after the fire a house in Fädboliden and ran forestry. John died in 2010.
A real great hunter as you see in the picture with the bear, John left.
Isac’s father puts it this way: “He was always a role model, a grandfather in every sense, always took time.”

Here are a proud Isac Danielsson when class 6 B visited the workshop and studio to follow the work in September, 2015.

Work process
The sculpture has been hewed with the ax and cutting tools. For legs I use “knees” as we call them in northern Sweden, they come from a natural hook grown from a spruce. Some root and part stem in a 90-degree cantilever bend. Natural strength following form.

Work process
The sculpture has been hewed with the ax and cutting tools. For legs I use “knees” as we call them in northen Sweden, they come from a natural hook grown from a spruce. Some root and part stem in a 90-degree cantilever bend. Natural strength following form.
The shape has changed during the work, especially the arms, depending on the blanks that I found in the woods. Nothing is predictable, but emerging in the process is a dialogue with the material. It becomes a matter of course in slöjd that the process is the basis for the aesthetic expression.
The body is made of two sturdy pine trunks with four pins that hold them together. The ladder is also made in the same method. I finally found a right crooled birch six meters in length with suitable bend. It was cut with a chainsaw into four parts and dried in the spring. The rungs are slow growing and cleft pine dried to 4% moisture and joined into the ladder side panels (approximately 16% moisture ) to strengthen the joints.

Here I drill holes with sighting alignment.

Lars Laursen from Denmark was my helper for two weeks.

The tradition

In Västerbotten the word slöjd is still in use in the dialect. It is the Viking word “slög”, meaning ingenious, artful, cunning, shrewd or clever. But we use the double negation Int’ oslög” “Not uncrafty” because we want to mark some kind of humility. Being handy was important in the farming community for survival. It is also about respect for the objects function and quality – they should live with the objects the rest of their lives – even in generations. A kind of responsibility to myself and those I love, the care and consideration that is incorporated in the items.

In the sculpture lives the story and the memory remains. The opening ceremony was the day after the terrorist attacks in France (13 Nov 2015). Then it felt especially important to present a story and a sculpture with a content that everyone can make a difference when it really counts.