Art in a time of covid

Every year, the Spring Salon at Liljevalchs Konsthall, attracts many entries and even more visitors. Usually around 5,000 artworks are submitted for examination and judging. Every year, that is, except for 2020. The plague put the kibosh on that. The other thing the plague did was heavily influence the entries in the Spring Salon 2021.

From a platform full of socially distanced people in gas masks to photographs of taped off seats, the images and memories of the pandemic graced walls and floors.

Håll avstånd by Stefan Bennedahl

On Sunday, I’d decided to take myself into Stockholm to visit the Spring Salon. I booked a ticket time of 12:30 and set off nice and early. The day was beautiful and the transport all linked up. Bus, ferry, tram, train, bus; I rode round a veritable circle. And, obviously, I had to visit our Viennese place (that isn’t Viennese) on Djurgården given I’d be nearby.

The clientèle is a bit different on a weekday. We’re used to seeing tourists taking fika ahead or in the middle of, various tourist adventures. Today, however, I joined a few tables full of workers in hard hats and work clothes as they took their lunch.

Given I was early, I then indulged in a lovely half hour in Galärvarvskyrkogården, a churchyard originally set up for naval use in 1742. It’s a lovely place on a sunny day. It was also lovely when we visited around All Saints Day last year.

Eventually, time ticked round to my timed slot and I entered Liljevalchs, the same as we did back in October when it was one of the few places open, the plague having closed most places. The staff were just as happy to see me though now with rather odd face masks. At first I thought that maybe they were part of the Spring Salon. They weren’t.

I then spent a delightful 90 odd minutes wandering around the over 300 selected entries, sometimes laughing, other times made sad, with a few times mystified thrown in. Possibly the most mystifying was a series of framed flattened white cardboard boxes. I took a photo especially for Bob.

Flattened cardboard boxes aside, the effect of the plague was just about everywhere. From a long line of bars of different coloured soaps (remembering how we were taught to wash our hands properly) to a suspended perspex screen.

Of course, not all the entries were covid related. In fact, one of my favourite pieces had more to do with humour than anything else. The artist,Ola Niklasson, had taken a load of ornaments and added squid to them. The largest one, I particularly liked.

Gosstund by Ola Niklasson

I was surprised at how many other people were there. Apparently the Spring Salon is very popular and, if today was anything to go by, I’d agree.

Shortly after I returned home, the sky blackened and the rains came. It poured and poured. I was incredibly lucky to have missed it. Another hour and I’d have been as drenched as the plants outside our house.

Apart from watering the gardens, the rain also stopped the annoying chainsaw next door. And that was definitely a welcomed consequence.

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