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Rebel in Clay

Rebel in Clay
Hertha Hillfon (1921-2012) transformed clay into almost everything, using techniques that she developed herself. From traditional busts to clothes, furniture, and bread. Since the spring, it’s been possible to see it for yourself on Skeppsholmen in central Stockholm where the cultural center Hertha Hillfon c/o Skeppsholmen has opened, offering visitors the chance to experience many of her works.

The center is run by the foundation Friends of Hertha Hillfon. Currently, the opening exhibition features around thirty art works of all shapes and sizes mingled in the intimate space.

Kid (1976). Meditation or yoga? Or is he sitting and begging? Hertha Hillfon didn’t always put a name to her sculptures and wanted the viewers to think for themselves.

Interview with Malena Wallander, Head of Operations at Hertha Hillfon c/o Sheppsholmen.
What is it that makes an exhibition of Hertha Hillfon’s art so worth seeing?
“When she made her breakthrough, the ceramics world was dominated by clean and simple lines and controlled glazing. Hertha Hillfon broke with that norm. She boldly experimented, making sculptures that were raw and where the imprint of the hand could be seen.”

Hertha Hillfon broke through with a bang as a result of an exhibition at Artek in 1959. Her art was something completely different from what most had seen before, and soon she had showings in London and Milan. Her success continued and today her sculptures are on display in museums in Kyoto, Oslo and London, among other locations.

The Vest. Hertha Hillfon is known for portraying everyday objects, often items of clothing. Here, a vest becomes wall sculpture.

Why would someone not familiar with her work want to visit the exhibition?

“To learn about one of Sweden’s most ground-breaking artists and her inspiring and powerful work. There may not be many who know Hertha Hillfon’s name, but her work can be found in public spaces all over Sweden and many people have seen them without knowing who was behind them.”

Hertha Hillfon worked in a studio in her home in Mälarhöjden, where from the end of the 1960’s she had a oversized oven and everything else necessary to make the often large sculptures. Her husband Gösta designed and built the stands to display the works.

The Trip. Abstract (1950’s) You can ponder what it is meant to be. But look at the technique: Hertha Hillfon experimented with completely new methods.

Is there more to do at the center than just look at art?

“We always have an art teacher on site who can help visitors try to turn clay into art themselves.”

Is it possible to take home what you make?

“Yes, you can take home the clay as it is or else you can leave it and have it fired for an extra cost of 40 crowns.”

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