Measurement of Time

Vascular bundles, tissue and stomata appear in the small sample. A tiny cross section of a fir tree, measuring less than a centimetre, is on display in the foyer. On the glazed façade outside, it has been magnified some 6,000 times.

On Measurements of Time

Printed on the glazed façade the motif can be seen both from inside and outside. From the outside the motif appears in its entirety on the 17 x 8 metre large glazed façade. From the inside the viewer has the opportunity to get up close and study the motif. The high resolution of the print makes visible the details in the pine tree’s cells, marrow and kernel.

The foyer also contains the original sample displayed on a 75 x 26 mm glass tray in a glass display case. Close contact with the small sample of the inside of a pine tree reinforces the viewer’s understanding of the nature of the subject. The contrasts in the proportions also highlight the relationship between the large and the small, a microscopic zoom that simultaneously embraces the entire building.

By magnifying the pine tree, the artist wants to awaken ideas of origin, of our place in the world and the relationship of the large to the small – general values that are important in the field of police training. The pine tree’s connection to the neighbouring Umeå Plant Science Center (UPSC) and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) also reflects the interdisciplinary ambition of the police training.

The artistic intervention Measurement of Time is commissioned by Akademiska Hus and Swedish Public Art Agency, owned and managed by Akademiska Hus and integrated in the glazed façade of the Police Education Building at Umeå University.

Curatorstext by Kristina Möster Nilsson

“The work is a cross section of a barely three millimetre thick pine twig. Standing in front of the building, one sees pith, marrow, kernels, annular rings, resin canals, wood and bark. As one moves inside the stairwell, cells, vascular bundles, tissue and stomata appear. The cells in the pine twig may be regarded as one of the most basic building blocks of life for plants and animals. In each cell, all of the particular characteristics of life are represented.”

Jens Henricson describes his commission for the Police Education Building at Umeå University with formal precision. Measurement of Time is an intervention on the glazed façade at the entrance. The glass is 17 metres high and 8 metres wide. The original is an almost unimaginably small pine twig. On the glass it has been enlarged 6,000 times. The shift in scale transforms the reproduction of the tiny elements of nature into cosmic fiction. Viewers can choose to view the image as a description of nature’s structure or as an abstract subject. Art balances between fantasy and science.

A Part of the Campus and the Sciences


The architecture of Umeå University’s campus is characterised by yellow brick buildings surrounded by squares and park landscapes featuring many artistic interventions. The Police Education Building is a space for research, education and practical training for a professional career in the police force. The art had to take its starting point in the technical conditions of the building. In order to create a comfortable indoor environment the inlet of sunlight through the large glazed façade had to be reduced, which was done by the motif: a digital print with glass ceramic paint.

Conceptually, Measurement of Time is close to the multidisciplinary approach at the Police Education Building in Umeå, whose objective is to integrate several academic research areas into the police training course. Henricson is an artist who works in investigative projects for long periods of time, often in conjunction with medical research. His art has touched upon the body and life and in recent years he has focused more on gardens and broken garden architecture. Light, glass, permeability and transparency in combination with vegetation and the architectural garden spaces have constituted his artistic material. Measurement of Time is a compilation of interest in the structure of all things living and gardens.

Kristina Möster Nilsson

On Jens Henricson

Born in 1979 in Helsingborg, Jens Henricson lives and works in Malmö. He received his academic training at Malmö Art Academy. Common to his artistic projects is his interest in how lived experience creates identity. In several projects, personal themes have paved the way through scientific research in cooperation with UMAS in Malmö and SLU, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences at Alnarp. From 2010 he processed the death of his mother in his work, dealing with issues based on sadness and bereavement. In 2014 he began work on an ongoing project with the starting point in his family’s garden centre.