"I'm still experimenting"

I first met Bertil Vallien in 1990. I was 18 at the time and extremely nervous. I had brought along my sketchbook and wanted him to take a look at my glass designs. My goal was to become a glass-artist - and Bertil was my idol. I entered his studio at the Åfors glass factory, but he wasn't there. When at last he did appear, my temperature rose by several degrees. He struck me, then, as slightly intimidating. He wore a strange-looking cap on his head, but his handshake was firm, his voice clear and articulate. And then that kindly but somewhat guarded look. I saw BV as a celebrated star, with all the exaggerated respect that goes with stardom.
My nervousness was unfounded. I told him about my father and grandfather, who had both worked at the factory. Here was a bond between us. He took his time perusing my adolescent sketches, commented on them and gave me encouragement. In my other hand I held a recently published biography of him; naturally I wanted his autograph. He opened the book and in a careful hand, (among other things), he wrote: "Perfection is the enemy of Art". Was this, I wonder, a dig at my precise, meticulous drawings or a philosophical observation? Whatever the case, I was floating on cloud number seven.





I began to collect BV's glass at the age of 17, and was especially keen on his work from the 1960s. I have tried to figure out what it was that drew me to his glass in particular, but have no ready answer. Possibly the combination of a robust outgoing imagination and mysterious inward delicacy.
I never became a glass-artist. Instead I began at Åfors as a glass painter, in 1994. Ulrica Hydman-Vallien had reservations; aware, as she was, of my fascination with Bertil's glass. It took a few years to become part of the team at the factory. I have come to admire Ulrica's art, (too?) which I find amazing. Imagine working with two such giants. Four years later, the then local manager (of the factory), Lennart Pettersson, wanted an article for the staff news-sheet/magazine on Bertil's exhibition at the Museum of Antiquities (Historiska Museum). I volunteered to write it, and have continued to write - mostly about Bertil

I am now a full-fledged journalist. I have learnt how to create a website, how to film, edit images, produce CD ROMs and to write - somewhat better. While studying, I was struck by the idea of a comprehensive home page for Bertil Vallien, my old idol. And in August, 2003, the project began in earnest. Bertil supplied me with photographs and I started writing, and working with graphic layout and scanning.

Without Gunnar Lindqvist´s analysis of the artist's work from his Biography of Bertil, my texts would have been the poorer.

Behind each plate is a photographer, who also deserve my thanks. The home page (bertilvallien.se) now has an English version, for which I thank Angela E-Adegren.
A big hug to my wife, Caroline for a critical reading/editing of the text.
And finally: to Bertil Vallien, I would like to say that composing your website has been a great honour and immense fun.

Björn Önnerhag, january 2004