With the correct light and nutrition, the pine can grow and become great. Lisa Strömbeck’s work Ljus för liten tall (Light for a Small Pine) animates a wall at SiS’s residential home for young people in Hässleholm.
On Ljus för liten tall (Light for a Small Pine)
The Swedish National Board of Institutional Care (SiS) communicates its activities with the slogan “It is a matter of life and death”. With the same degree of seriousness, Lisa Strömbeck undertook the commission to provide some life for young people who temporarily need to step out of a collectively organised society in order to receive schooling and treatment in a secluded environment. At SiS’s residential home for young people in Hässleholm, light now floats over the surface of a wall where the students get together, wait and meet. Magic may be a commonplace expression but here it has meaning.
“This pine plant didn’t get a good start in life. It struck root in a place where it was too dark for it to grow properly. Larger pines overshadowed it and took all the light and nutrition. It has suffered but it is alive. It only needs a bit more light to get its strength back and thrive, raise itself up and grow strong.”
Lisa Strömbeck’s artistic practice is warm. She feels compassion both on an individual and on a societal level. It is evident in Strömbeck’s description of the artwork that she has literally teased out of the wall in a residential home for young people in Hässleholm.
The eye can wander and explore bricks and cedarwood; the indoor colours slowly flow from one hue to another. When the artist entered the building, she was able to transfer the interpretation into the art.
In collaboration with SiS and the property owner, Fojab Architects have created architecture that moves us. In the residential home for young people, there is a kindness in the light transmission, materials and choice of colours. It is abundantly apparent that the architects have tried to understand what it’s like to be a child or a teenager in a residential home for young people. The eye can wander and explore bricks and cedarwood; the indoor colours slowly flow from one hue to another. When the artist entered the building, she was able to transfer the interpretation into the art. From the restrictions that are part of the nature of a building of this type she has created a light that continues into places where the architecture cannot reach.
Ljus för liten tall (Light for a Small Pine) is installed on the large wall outside the gymnasium. The grey-painted wall rests quietly until the light glides down over the surface into warm, orange-yellow fields. This is where the wall comes to life; it is given small insets and shadows. From golden yellow it borders on green or perhaps orange. It is not far-fetched to see the warm tones of the sunlight, feel the soft rays against one’s skin. Then, white light comes floating down. It is three-dimensional and mystical. What is happening? It never stops falling. Slowly, slowly, the light falls towards the floor until it runs out on the carpet.
Curator text on Ljus för liten tall by Kristina Möster Nilsson
There is a wall in a residential home for young people in Hässleholm that stands out, where light dances out of the wall and makes a rough surface deepen with golden-yellow indentations. Here, white light slowly floats down the wall and runs out on the carpet. It continues to float while the day turns dark and then light again. If this wall can divert the mind of a single teenager, if it can make a single teenager smile or just make a single teenager feel a tiny little bit of surprising delight – then art has played its part. No one can expect more than that. If it happens, it is marvellous enough to last a normal school day and perhaps a little longer.
No one can expect more than that. If it happens, it is marvellous enough to last a normal school day and perhaps a little longer.
Where can art in public spaces be?
Public art appears in many different spaces. Also in those that are closed to people in general. The artwork in Hässleholm is part of the school’s everyday life which is not accessible for outsiders. The young people at SiS’s residential home are here because they need care, treatment and special schooling. The residential home for young people provides state-run education for students who live here during a short period of their lives. Art has been given a central location in the building and encounters the students daily. “This pine plant didn’t get a good start in life,” Lisa Strömbeck writes about the pine she has drawn on the rough wall. Strömbeck, in her role as artist, has listened to the stories shared by the young people at SiS residential home. It is as if their voices are present in the small, scraggy tree. It stands there firmly and allows the light to fall on its hardly visible crown.
Artistic experience concentrated in an artwork
Lisa Strömbeck has invested years of artistic experience into this artwork. Strömbeck’s artistic practice may be said to be multifaceted, or perhaps ambiguous. In Ljus för liten tall (Light for a Small Pine) she combines her previous artistic works into an homage to all the people on the earth who need extra care. The observant art viewer may, of course, see traces of her early light studies and photographs. Or her interest in ancient trees and experimental photographic and film techniques. In the end, however, her entire artistic practice is an exercise in artistic care. She has embraced dogs and people in loving depictions and her art has pinpointed social injustices and ways in which to remedy them. She is a powerful artistic voice who is on the side of the vulnerable. The light, the indomitable vegetation and loving core overlap into a contemplative experience in Ljus för liten tall (Light for a Small Pine).
On Lisa Strömbeck
Born in 1966 in Andrarum, Lisa Strömbeck lives between Borrby and Copenhagen. Educated at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, Strömbeck works with photography, video and installation. Since the 1990s, she has participated in artistic collaborative groups, such as Kvinder på Værthus (Women Down the Pub) (1997–2008). Since 2010, teaching has been a part of her profession, primarily at the Kunsthøjskolen (Folk Art School) in Holbæk. Through her profession, she is firmly committed to the living conditions of the young. The point of departure for Lisa Strömbeck’s art is things she experiences in her immediate surroundings. Everyday occurrences, light and space are shaped in harmony with humans and animals.
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