Since the1960s, BV has been privileged to work with the ornamentation of public buildings. To begin with, the pieces he created had a decorative function only. Later, they were developed to become an integrated part of the whole/environment.

His first major commission in 1965 - for the Swedish Lloyd shipping company's boat, the MS Saga - was a decoration executed in wrought-iron and ceramic. Inspired by the ship 'Rijkswasa' (which sank in 1623), Bertil created a 12 metre-long relief. It was followed by a smaller ceramic bas-relief, based on the theme of 'sailors' yarns'. His work received a good press, though it was 'thumbs down' for the overall interior design of the ship.
Since then, the vessel has been sold many times over, and these decorative murals have been
lost.

Over the years, BV has been engaged for 22 commissions, the most prestigious of which is the altarpiece in Växjö Cathedral, completed in 2000 (see separate article on the website). In this article I will concentrate on the most important of the public installations: those in Caroli City and the Telia head office, Malmö; the Volvo Head Office, and the Corning Museum.

In 1973, visitors to the shopping centre, Caroli City, in the centre of Malmö, could see a Zeppelin suspended from the ceiling, and a little further on, a hot-air balloon, both of considerable size. The long, narrow Zeppelin is almost ten metres long and about 3 metres high; the balloon some four metres high. These mobile sculptures - constructed in metal (mainly brass), are fanciful creations, but in the bustling atmosphere of a shopping mall, they do not, alas, come into their own. Four years later Bertil returned to Malmö, to create his first really successful ornamental work, where art and milieu are harmoniously integrated. Bertil was given a free rein with a circular customer reception hall. He painted figures of birds and flying men against a blue background - motifs found on his sandblasted bowls of the same period. Under the skylight floats a large wooden figure wearing a top hat. Beneath this figure there are plants and a sculpture shaped like a tuning-fork, with a face and two large funnels for ears. Above the face is a watching eye. From the face water runs from the mouth and the eyes. This decorative piece has a mysterious potency. The visitor is at one with the milieu, communication is the password. We would like to speak to the weeping face and follow the wooden man up to the light, but despite the solidarity we feel, we cannot reach them.

During the 80s, as Vallien's renown grew, the commissions became ever more numerous. His greatest triumph - in 1987, was for Volvo (private automobiles section), which was in need of an artistic decoration for the deep light-well in their head office. BV decided on a large sandblasted glass boat as the basis for the journey of the god, Janus - destination unknown.

He described this journey during the long, and arduous working process. "A sea of thoughts and memories. An oasis of hopes - poetic spaces. Becalmed. Nourishment for the imagination - our most valuable capital asset. Water - mutability - movement - a sail. The god Janus who gives his name to January portrayed with two faces - sees the past and the future. The marble floor represents History. The watery plate of glass - the sail. The future unknown - symbolised by the crystal palace where the water ends its course. The boat represents the journey!"

'Journey of Janus' is a stunning work and makes great demands on the viewer. Firstly, it is extremely high. Rising from a base of white marble, is a 20 m high narrow sail constructed of aluminium-framed panes of glass, with water trickling from top to base. The sail rests on a four-ton slab of red granite. Beside the sail, a sandblasted boat, 4 metres in length, suspended in steel wires. Higher up is the map, and a long wooden rod that represents the compass needle.
Another boat that sails to an unknown destination is 'Voyage of Janus II', to be found at the Corning Museum's head office, outside New York. Bertil worked on this piece 1992-3. If 'Janus Journey I' left visitors speechless on account of its size and splendour, the Corning installation is a marvel of minimalist mystique. The first journey of Janus was undertaken under the banner of hope.* The second is as dark as night. Here, the boat hovers above a circular granite slab, whose surface bears arcane inscriptions, its centre filled with water. The boat is the key to the puzzle; plumbing the still ocean of transience.

A sketch for a wsought - iron relief, 1965.










Zeppelin, Caroli City, Malmö.










A part of Bertil´s commission for Telias huvudkontor i Malmö. Foto: Ola Terje.










Journey of Janus, Volvo, Gothenburg. Photo: Jan Olsson.

 

 

 

Journey of Janus. Photo: Jan Olsson.

 

 

 

 

Voyage of Janus II. Corning Inc, New York.

 

 

 

Baptismal font for the Stenhagskyrkan in Uppsala, 1993.


 

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