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Möten – Gowenius Hansson

  • 14/10 2023 – 17/3 2024
  • Smålands museum
Möten – Gowenius Hansson
Man is a story. In the exhibition Meetings – Gowenius Hansson, the artists Berta Hansson, Ulla Gowenius and Peder Gowenius capture the lives and stories of the people they met. In the process, they also met each other and were enriched.

“Whoever has experienced Africa once has it in their blood for the rest of their lives.”

So wrote Berta Hansson after a year-long stay in southern Africa.

It was the beginning of the 1950s. The apartheid regime’s racial laws prohibited and punished association between the black and white population. At Swedish mission stations, Berta Hansson found a sanctuary where the ban could be circumvented. She was fascinated by the people, their faces, song and culture – and was outraged by the conditions under which rural women lived.

After returning home, she wanted to repay the love and trust she had received. The idea of ​​an arts and crafts school was born, with the idea of ​​giving the women the opportunity to earn a living.

In 1961, the young couple Ulla and Peder Gowenius were entrusted with making her wish come true. In South Africa they started a school in Rorke’s Drift, where women were trained in weaving and arts and crafts. An art school was also built – the first in the country for black students.

With the image as language, stories were created based on the students’ own reality – not least the oppression the regime subjected them to. Ulla and Peder came to stay eighteen years in southern Africa.

An extensive world of images

This exhibition shows images based on the artists’ own experiences in Africa. Meetings with people, their conditions and suffering but also their dignity, are preserved in the images.

The exhibition also show works from other sources of inspiration. In portraits of children and the elderly, and in biblical images, Berta Hansson portrays both the joyful and the serious in life. In her weaving art, Ulla Gowenius highlights the trust in the creative power of nature and God. In Peder Gowenius’ visual world, we encounter abuse and the exercise of power, as well as life-giving and hope.

What the three artists have in common is the strong empathy in meeting their subjects; to have seen people and nature’s creations in their environment in the deepest sense, and highlight the importance of solidarity and goodness in the world.

All texts in the exhibition are presented in swedish.

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