We were the first car to arrive at the ferry in Frederikshavn, and were second on the ferry itself. In a quick three hours we were in Sweden, on our way to Hoganas.
My first impression was ugly industrial, then Wisconsin. Dairy farms that had sold the sides of their huge red barns for billboards. Minnesota Public Radio. A short drive later we were in Hoganas. A short drive for me, because I immediately fell asleep. A long boring grind of a drive for Kent.
Hoganas is in Skane county, a region famous for its ceramics since the Middle Ages. (One reason ceramics is studied is because it developed in every region with access to clay, water, and fuel.) Driving through town to our lodging we saw sign after sign advertising “Keramics”. Our hotel is, from what I can tell, a retreat center of sorts. Not exactly in the country, but right on the coast. We could see the water from our room but the powerful wind made beach-walking a struggle. We did it anyway, briefly.
My little video of the town of Molle, near Hoganas.
Contrary to my initial sleepy impression, Sweden is very beautiful. Kent asked me how many times I was going to say “luminous”.
The Hoganas Museum is small but exhibits something I have never seen elsewhere: a thorough exploration of Scandinavian art pottery. I learned more from this one exhibit than from so many other pottery exhibits over the years. I felt completely ignorant and equally happy. Such remarkable work by artists I’ve never heard of.
Hoganas is also home to a popular outlet mall featuring fine dishes and commercial pottery. In the center of this is the Hoganas Keramisk Center– an extensive museum-like display of the history of ceramics in the region, including industrial plumbing. It includes an exhibition space for contemporary ceramic art, and a large..very large sales area including 45 high quality regional potters. FORTY FIVE. There are apparently at least fifteen others not included. Such variety and creativity and quality.
The most interesting part is, right beside this sales area is a spotless glassed-in classroom space with two wheels and a separate glaze room. Ceramics is taught to kids right in the center of a large commercial shopping mall that emphasizes shopping for dishes. Kids can learn clay surrounded by amazing examples and historical pieces. That’s s pretty literal answer to my question of “how are these traditions passed on?” Studio pottery is not treated like a precious thing separate from commerce. Can you imagine a fashion design class in the mall? A furniture making class in the middle of Mathis Brothers Furniture? This is how the connection is made. Pretty simple actually.