Christian Radich under work

Spring or winter?

Friday, 2009-03-20

In Swedish there is a particular word för the period when there is winter in the nights and spring in daytime with snow melting and quickly disappearing ("vårvinter"). It is a wonderful and hopeful time, daylight is returning and you look for the first signs of growth. Still, it is yet winter and when the snow freezes it is great to ski on the frozen and very hard snow surface.

(Click on the picture for full size, 3-4 MB)

Two stories of heaven

Monday, 2008-12-22

This was the morning view from our bedroom window yesterday. A glorious sky, indeed!

It made me think about two stories about the heaven.

The first is a small story of Franz Kafka, "Before the Law". It is also included in his book, The Trial.

Before the law sits a gatekeeper. To this gatekeeper comes a man from the country who asks to gain entry into the law. But the gatekeeper says that he cannot grant him entry at the moment. The man thinks about it and then asks if he will be allowed to come in later on. “It is possible,” says the gatekeeper, “but not now.” At the moment the gate to the law stands open, as always, and the gatekeeper walks to the side, so the man bends over in order to see through the gate into the inside. When the gatekeeper notices that, he laughs and says: “If it tempts you so much, try it in spite of my prohibition. But take note: I am powerful. And I am only the most lowly gatekeeper. But from room to room stand gatekeepers, each more powerful than the other. I can’t endure even one glimpse of the third.” The man from the country has not expected such difficulties: the law should always be accessible for everyone, he thinks, but as he now looks more closely at the gatekeeper in his fur coat, at his large pointed nose and his long, thin, black Tartar’s beard, he decides that it would be better to wait until he gets permission to go inside. The gatekeeper gives him a stool and allows him to sit down at the side in front of the gate. There he sits for days and years. He makes many attempts to be let in, and he wears the gatekeeper out with his requests. The gatekeeper often interrogates him briefly, questioning him about his homeland and many other things, but they are indifferent questions, the kind great men put, and at the end he always tells him once more that he cannot let him inside yet. The man, who has equipped himself with many things for his journey, spends everything, no matter how valuable, to win over the gatekeeper. The latter takes it all but, as he does so, says, “I am taking this only so that you do not think you have failed to do anything.” During the many years the man observes the gatekeeper almost continuously. He forgets the other gatekeepers, and this one seems to him the only obstacle for entry into the law. He curses the unlucky circumstance, in the first years thoughtlessly and out loud, later, as he grows old, he still mumbles to himself. He becomes childish and, since in the long years studying the gatekeeper he has come to know the fleas in his fur collar, he even asks the fleas to help him persuade the gatekeeper. Finally his eyesight grows weak, and he does not know whether things are really darker around him or whether his eyes are merely deceiving him. But he recognizes now in the darkness an illumination which breaks inextinguishably out of the gateway to the law. Now he no longer has much time to live. Before his death he gathers in his head all his experiences of the entire time up into one question which he has not yet put to the gatekeeper. He waves to him, since he can no longer lift up his stiffening body. The gatekeeper has to bend way down to him, for the great difference has changed things to the disadvantage of the man. “What do you still want to know, then?” asks the gatekeeper. “You are insatiable.” “Everyone strives after the law,” says the man, “so how is that in these many years no one except me has requested entry?” The gatekeeper sees that the man is already dying and, in order to reach his diminishing sense of hearing, he shouts at him, “Here no one else can gain entry, since this entrance was assigned only to you. I’m going now to close it.

A completely different version is given in the Bible, normally called "The Parable of the Lost Son" (Luke 15:11-31)

Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.

"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father.

"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

"The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'

"But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.

"Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'

"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'

" 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' "

(Click on the picture for full size, 4 MB)

Painting darkness and winter

Sunday, 2008-12-06

Houses in cold weather From Lars Lerin’s book “Uthus”

Waldemarsudde has a remarkable exhibition of Lars Lerin. His paintings really hit me straight on.

This is what I have lost: the darkness of the winters in Jämtland, the lack of light, the hard cold which makes ice in my beard, the nose and the eyebrows, which has no scent, where everything is losing its colour. How can you possibly paint that, how can you transmit the feel of it - in water colours of all techniques? But he does it! And I remember the raw cold, the smell of damp socks on the heater, the cat who refuses to go out, shovelling snow on the walls to keep the worst cold out of the house.

Why do I miss that, that miserable cold? But I do. It is all gone now and there is no return. The early morning in the cow shed, the sounds of the milking machine, the steam when you pushed the wheelbarrow full with cow dung out on to the dung heap, the cows munching hay and ensilage. Until the ensilage got completely frozen stiff and then they had to live on hay only. The cold, the relentless cold creeping into your clothes whatever you put on.

Another stark painting: The last light. I cannot understand it but it caught me. The softly dark, dark sky and the lonely house with a lit sky around it. From where comes the light? From where comes the darkness?

Modern art and religion - The Apostles

Sunday, 2008-11-01

Eve and I have spent two weeks in Italy and there is a lot of stunningly beautiful religious art to see, not least the early mosaics in Ravenna (from the 6 and 7th centuries). I took a lot of pictures (see but I have not yet had time to write a blog about this. However, this blog is about modern art and the church. During my latest stay in Stockholm there was a vernissage in Storkyrkan of an installation of big pictures of the Apostles by Michel Östlund. After the Sunday service it was also an interesting discussion between Östlund and the vicar (domprost) Åke Bonnier.

The Apostles are thirteen in Östlund's count as he includes Paul (and so did Paul himself). It is a most unusual church decoration and it took me a while to "get used to it". But the paintings started to talk to me, particularly the frontal picture of John (Johannes in Swedish) in the choir and the one of Peter in the southern aisle which is shown above (the photo is not of good quality, it was dark and even if the painting is deliberately 'unsharp' I have added some unsharpness in the photo I am afraid. You can see the full range of the apostles at Östlund's homepage (

The relation between modern art and religion is dealt with in James Elkins' book On the strange place of religion in contemporary art (Routledge, New York and London, 2004). Elkins is an art historian and the book is written from that perspective. It is a fascinating reading if you are interested in modern art and an active christian, as I am. His conclusion is that the links are weak or next to non-existing and I suppose he is largely right about this even if I think Östlund could serve as an example of such a link between the two worlds. But what a contrast to the medieval times when art developed more or less within the context of the church! Anyway, with the Renaissance art and the church begun to part ways. Not that there is no modern art in the churches or that spiritual motives are completely absent from modern painting but the 'best' modern art is certainly a-religious and art discussions do not touch on questions of spiritual search and religious values.

I wonder if this is something particular to painting? It seems to me that the situation is different when it comes to music where really good works are still made for religious purposes, music that is also appreciated outside the church and included in the modern canon of music. Certainly I get fantastic music in Storkyrkan composed by Sven-David Sandström. That is something to look out for if you are in Stockholm

(Click on the picture for full size, 2.6 MB)

Thorp Perrow, Yorkshire

Sunday, 2008-09-19

Thorp Perrow has a big arboretum with more than 1500 tree species. It is also the base for a bird of prey centre which is breeding falcons and owls. They are fairly tame and trained regularly which is shown for small groups of people. It is quite a sight to see these birds coming diving at extreme speed and catching the meat in the flight. The barn owl (Sw. tornuggla) was beatiful sight with its long, slender wings.

To the left there is a pelegrin falcon and to the right a golden pheasant

(Click on the pictures for full size, 2-4 MB)

Old summer holiday pictures

Sunday, 2008-08-24

I have finally sent the book manuscript I have been working on this summer to friends for check and reading. There is of course more to do before it is ready but this is an important stage - all the stuff (nearly) is in place. So I thought I should have a look at some pictures from some time back (July 2006). I spent then a week then with my daughter and her family in Northern Sweden.

We had a remarkable day at the lake Håckren, which is an artificial lake created by a big dam. As they did not managed to get all the tree roots out of the soil when they built the dam and before filling it there are still a lot of roots and pieces of timber floating on to the shores. The wood is by now well weathered and polished by water, sand and sun and is lovely to look at.

Some big lifting went on there. Julius is helping.

We also made an excursion to the peak of Åreskutan with the cabin lift. From the top you have a great view over the mountains and the Åre valley.

At Fröå old copper mine I found this heap of rusting nails and iron bolts.

One day we had dinner at the stream shore. It was a great evening

(Click on the pictures for full size, 2-4 MB)

August garden

Friday, 2008-08-10

The summer has passed the zenith and the August flowers are in blossom. The long border on the east side is rich in red and blue. Gladiola, dahlias and Crocosmia 'Lucifer' dominate, but there is also intensely blue salvia (Salvia patens) and the greyblue sea holly (Eryngium planum).

Eve made a small collection of flowers to show the colour scheme she has aspired to get. In the border there is also a bush, Kerria japonica 'Pleniflora', which should be flowering in early spring, but that in spite of this has put out a yellow flower now. It does not quite fit in the general pattern, but it is nice all the same.

The morning sun falls at my morning coffee bench. Close to it chives is flowering.

Click on the pictures for full size (2-4 MB)

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Plitvice national park, Croatia

Friday, 2008-08-08

It takes some time to prepare the pictures for the blog and a lot of interesting pictures have been lying untouched since the June holiday trip. However, there are good reasons to come back to the journey.

One of the highlights was the Plitvice national park which we visited on 20-21 June. It is a series of lakes in the karst area of central Croatia. The water of the lakes is crystal clear as the levels of calcium is extremely high, so high actually that the water is not eroding the rocks but rather adding to them. This results in the widening of the water falls and dividing them into a large number of small streams. The result was that there was water everywhere.

The park was just wonderful with water which was turquoise in colour, a lot of small fish, and luxuriant growth.

Click on the pictures for full size (2-4 MB)

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Family pleasures

Wednesday, 2008-07-21

Ville and Ebba are playing while Malin is harvesting potatoes, beetroots and sallad from her vegetable garden for a lovely lunch.

To this sallad there were fresh potatoes, beetroots and fried chicken!

Otto and Stefan

The vegetable garden and a border. Below a malva.

Click on the pictures for full size (2-4 MB)

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Swedish summer

Wednesday, 2008-07-16

Swedish summer should be enjoyed in the north - in the county of Jämtland. It is actually very near the geographic middle of Sweden, but it is really not far from the Artic circle. Even if the sun does disappear for a while in the middle of the night in June and July it is never quite dark.

Most of Jämtland is forest and bogs but at the western border towards Norway there are high mountains. The Epilobium augustifolium (fireweed or Rosebay Willowherb) is flowering along the roads and on forest land where the forest has recently been felled or burned.

The landscape is vast and open, a lot of forest and mountains in the background. From the church of Mattmar you have in my view one of the most beautiful sights you could find in Sweden.

People have lived here long as shown by these rock-carvings at Glösa, Alsen. Hunting of elks and perhaps reindeer must have been the most important source of food. I imagine that the square picture might show a hunter in some kind of shelter but it could also be a net. The hearts of the animals are clearly marked - perhaps for magical reasons or just for showing where the arrow was to be aimed?

Click on the pictures for full size (2-4 MB) - they are worth it.

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Mountains and valleys

Wednesday, 2008-06-18

My ambition was to put pictures and notes from Anders and my holiday in Croatia and Slovenia on the blog. Several problems came in the way. One was that it was rare to find a wifi net or other connection to my computer when we were travelling, another that my laptop collapsed towards the end of the journey (probably because of the heat - that at least made ourselves to collapse - +39 degr C is just too much). The worst problem is that there is so much to show, so many pictures. Between us we took 900 pictures (some copies for finding the best exposure etc, but still a lot.

What I will do is to show a few here and then refer you to my webalbum which is found at

This day we climbed over the high mountains to the inland and then back to our base at Starigrad on the coast - a stunningly beautiful journey. Below you will find some few pictures showing what a varied landscape Croatia can offer. And one of Anders.

Click on the pictures for full size (2-4 MB) - they are worth it.

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Mosaics from the 6th century

Saturday, 2008-06-14

Yesterday we reached Istria and stayed at a health spa at Istarske Toplice. It is a big hotel with some 300 rooms or so in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by stupenduous rocks and a lush green parkland. Sulphurous baths and massage of various kinds were offered (which we did not try). The evening was spent with a Canadian millionaire who grew up in Trieste and spends the summer here. There was dance in the evening which clearly was enjoyed by the present guests, mostly elderly people. And by me, actually.

From Toplice it was a short drive to Porec where we saw the Euphrasius Basilica and its remarkable series of 6th century Byzantine mosaics. The basilica itself is stunning with its main apse covered with mosaics showing Byzantine art at its best. The apse is dominated by the virgin and the Jesus infant child. The vault is showing a series of twelve women saints.

The museum had a great display of mosaics, notably also on with the fish symbol, shown below.

Later in the day the rain abated but it was a strong breeze when we came to the ferry which was going to take us from the Istrian peninsula to the Cres (pronounced with a ts in the beginning, however you pronounce that – sounds a bit like stress but not quite). The driving became a bit more demanding with roads climbing the high coast mountains and with steep slopes – often without any fences or rails. We reached the central town Cres towards the evening and had a very good dinner.

(Click on the pictures for full size, 2-4 MB).

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Holiday and the dance macabre

Friday, 2008-06-13

Today we left Venice in the morning and drove to Trieste and further to Slovenia and then Croatia. It was pouring rain most of the day and at times really the sky opened and you had to drive very slowly. We came to a small church at Hrastovlje in western Slovenia, in the Karst area. The rain had then abated and it is a lovely green valley where the heavily fortified church with high walls around it is overlooking a small hilltop in the village.

In the church all the walls and pillars are covered with fantastic frescoes from the end of the 15th century, made by an Istrian painter Janez iz Kastva. The pictures are describing the creation, the original fall and Adam's and Eve's life after the expulsion, the brother murder etc. There are also many scenes from the gospels.

But on whole wall is covered by a tremendous painting of the ”Dance macabre” describing how death is taking both poor and rich, queen and king, priests, monks and pope by hand and delivers them to the death and the grave. A most fitting reminder at the start of the holiday.

After that we had a lovely dinner at the village inn.

(Click on the pictures for full size, 2-4 MB but the pictures are taken from a brochure so the quality is not so good).

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Saturday, 2008-06-09

Today it is 24 472 days since I was born. It sounds like a lot and I suppose it is. I was awakened by song, coffee table and birthday gifts – lovely! In a morning when the weather is just wonderful!

The birthday card I got said: ”Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional”. I like that. It would be good to grow up but there seems to be a good bit left to do. Sometimes. Yesterday I got a letter with an obituary of an relative. He was military man of high rank and he reached an age of 104 years and 8 months, completely competent and bright to the end. Amazing.

I am clearly considered an old man, at least by very young people. I visited a friend who has a 4 year old daughter and she was very friendly and a bit curious about me: she came suddenly up to feel what my beard felt like. It was very touching and nice. However, I just cannot perceive me as an old man - even if I enjoy my age in various ways and the benefits it gives (free bus travel in the whole of the UK, reduced price at SL, half price on the railways, “concessionary” ticket prices at exhibitions, free prescriptions of reading glasses in the UK and so on - a bit odd as I am still working and my economy is quite alright but why complain?). On a more serious note: the prospect to finally reduce my working hours next year and not having a book to write is very inviting. There will probably still be work to do but less and perhaps a bit less demanding? There are so many other things I want to do, being with children, grandchildren and friends one thing, more work with the camera and pictures, perhaps also some carpentry and sculpture in wood.

Yesterday I was enjoying the garden. At present a glorious, big iris is flowering. Isn't it beautiful?!

(Click on the iris picture for full size, 2-4 MB).

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Stockholm a Sunday in June

Saturday, 2008-06-01

The communion table in Storkyrkan.

The composer Sven-David Sandström has been commissioned by the church to write music for each Sunday of the year - a gigantic three year project. Today the first one of these was performed, Cantata for the Second Sunday of Trinity (my translation). Great music, and a fantastic choir! This will be great to follow.

In Kungsträdgården King Charles XII guards a great border of nepeta and alliums with a drawn sword. Nearby some canoers were paddling in the stream under Riksbron

Click on the pictures for full size (2-4 MB)

Olle Edqvist

This is my redesigned blog, no longer powered with Blogger. I got increasing problems with Blogger (it was slow and sometimes refusing to upload) and it was also hard to get the posts to look quite as I wanted them to be.

You find links to earlier blogs below.

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