What do Anna Sterky, August Strindberg, Hjalmar Branting, August Palm and a fellow in gold lamé doing the vacuuming, have in common? Apart from them all being somewhat socialist in their world views, we saw all of them today as we walked through numerous parks in Central Stockholm.
There’s a lot of public art in Stockholm. A lot of it is in parks. And there’s quite a few parks. Mostly the parks are on hills and give some great views. Which is a good thing.
August Palm though is an exception. His rather distinctive statue is on the corner of three joining streets and right next to rather odd statue of a man with a vacuum cleaner.
Mäster Palm, as he was called, was one of the main drivers in the social democrat labour movement. He also had a rather odd beard.
Just to prove that newspapers haven’t always been impartial, he was editor of a newspaper in 1882 called Folkviljan (Will of the People) in Malmö. Three years later he moved to Stockholm where he started another newspaper called Social-Demokraten (The Social Democrat).
In 1889, Mäster Palm was sent to prison for three months for writing stuff in the socialist press. He spent a lot of time working with trade unions and trying to make life better for the workers of Sweden.
Another Social Democrat and leading feminist was Ane Cathrine “Anna” Neilson. Born in Denmark and working as a seamstress, Anna came to Stockholm where she fought for the rights of female workers.
Oddly, though she never married the man she lived with for many years, she took his name. He was Fredrik Sterky. Both of them were lifelong trade unionists. Like a lot of Social Democrats, she edited a newspaper. Well, actually a magazine. For women. Or, to be more accurate, Morgonbris: arbeterskornas tidning (Morning Breeze: Journal for working women). It started life in 1904 and is still in existence. She was the first editor.
Meanwhile, back in the Social-Demokraten, when August Palm left as editor, Karl Hjalmar Branting took over.
Branting was a towering presence and a great friend of the working class. He was also the first Social Democratic Prime Minister of Sweden. Three times he served. And, while he championed the working classes, he was opposed to the Bolshevik revolution in Russia.
Ironic that this massive sculpture of him looks like it was left over from Marx.
He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1921, sharing it with the Norwegian, Christian Lous Lange. Sounds like a very powerful chap and one devoted to his cause. Interestingly, one of his first jobs as a young lad heading out of university was as an assistant at Stockholm Observatory.
Stockholm Observatory stands, obviously, on a high point in Stockholm. On a rather imposing hill in Vasastan, the 18th century building no longer looks up at the stars, now only looking over the roofs and buildings of Stockholm. A new observatory was built at Saltsjöbaden in 1931 and the one in Stockholm became a museum.
I don’t think the museum is open at the moment but, apparently, it’s full of astronomical instruments and so forth. It’s a lovely building and on the pinnacle of a swollen pimple of a hill.
Possibly the most impressive statue we saw today was that of August Strindberg, playwright, poet, writer, general all round deep thinker and the chap I wrote about back in December when we visited Dalarö. Here, rather than as a cartoon on a beach, he sits atop a mountain, atop a hill in another park. The mountain he’s perched upon has small figures featured in it from many of his writings.
Strindberg was a self-confessed, lifelong Socialist and was very good friends with Karl Branting until they fell out over religion. Strindberg went all mystical and Branting called him a disaster because of it. Just goes to show how religion destroys more than it creates.
It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday in Stockholm. We had intended to visit the Academy of Fine Arts but, in the end, decided the weather was so lovely, we’d just stroll from the Konditori Ritorna (place of the mystic semla) to The Hairy Pig Restaurant (place of the mystic meat).
Of course, all food consumed today was delicious. Sadly, though not for them, Joseph and his wife had gone on holiday, so we didn’t see him, but the food was just as good as always.
In the meanwhilst, as we wandered Stockholm’s public artworks, Emma and Freya were thoroughly enjoying their day with the Perfect Swedish Family.
So, a good day all round.
I almost forgot the chap doing his housework in gold lamé. Here he is though I have no idea who it was made by or when or, basically, anything about it. Though, leaving a little something untold is always good.