Recently we went to Gotland, the magical medieval island off the east coast of Sweden. Our main purpose initially was to visit the Lars Jonsson’s museum near Burgsvik on the southern tip of Gotland. He’s an incredible bird painter of international renown who paints birds while looking through a telescope. Supposedly I was told he sells more overseas than to Swedes.
But we got waylaid in the northern capital of Visby where we were staying as it’s hard to leave. It’s the most magnetic place full of ruins, stunning beaches and medieval buildings.
Eventually we caught the yellow number 10 bus from the main bus station for an hour to Burgsvik. The countryside was dazzling bright yellow and green like I’d never seen. It was perfect weather so you could see all the wind turbines off in the distance lining the coastline. Sweden’s an interesting combination of the very old and the very new.
Then we had to get the taxi to Vamlingo Vicarage. It’s a bit of a journey but it’s worth it as aside from Lars Jonsson’s museum, there’s an old stone medieval church with some superb wall paintings (where you could see the symbolic connection to Egyptian art incredibly) and two other museums, one about nature in Gotland, the other the Baltic Sea. Plus of course the usual café and restaurant so of course we had lunch there out in the gardens. Absolutely superb fresh food too.
The Jonsson museum is a renovated old vicarage (1779) and displays his prints and paintings, as well as sketchbooks. I hadn’t seen his oil paintings before. He has a lovely light, fresh technique. His style is actually quite different to a lot of other swedish artists I’ve seen. It’s looser but combined with his incredibly precise perceptions about birds. Birds are always individuals in his paintings. You can stroll about the gardens listening to them when you want the real thing.
It’s a beautiful place to visit.
Lars Jonsson Museum is part of the Vamlingo Vicarage about 7 kilometres south of Burgsvik in Gotland, Sweden. www.vamlingboprastgard.se
‘A sincere artist is not one who makes a faithful attempt to put on to canvas what is in front of him, but one who tries to create something which is , in itself, a living thing.’