1938. On the brink of a second World War. In Sweden, the initial steps were being taken towards social equalisation - what came to be known as the People's Home. On January 17th Nils and Astrid Wallin's son, Bertil was born.

Bertil Wallin, and his six siblings grew up in a devoutly religious home, in a residential suburban area north of Stockholm. Their father had broken away from the Pentecostal Church in the 1950s, to form a community of his own, The Prayer Society. Prayer meetings were often held in the home. Bertil found the strictures of religion conflicting.

-I rejected the things I was taught as a child, Bertil relates. That particular kind of free church religiosity - which threatened Hell and Damnation if you didn't behave, was terrifying. And the fact that certain things were considered sinful, things which to me were not in the least bit sinful. A mass of prohibitions and restraints - that limited my view of the world and my freedom. So I refused to accept it and longed to get away. But I'm older now, and perhaps slightly more humble, and I understand those questions to do with...well what?! (To me) Religion is about the important issues, Life and Death and the Life to come! And human love. The things I got from Sunday school and from my father have, I feel, come back to me, in some measure. And I'm quite grateful for it.

Bertil was only fifteen when he left home, drawn by the allure of the big city. Despite his hunger for life he was assailed by doubts: was he right to deny his father's beliefs? What was he going to be?
-I had a great need to assert myself. I come from quite a simple background, really. A working-class home, where there was very little self-awareness. There was nobody to pit oneself against, no appreciation of what I did. Apart from the fact that they loved watching me draw horses. As far as a professional life was concerned, it wasn't until I began at Konstfack (National College of Arts, Crafts and Design) - that I got some feedback and was able to match my abilities against my fellow students.

After a series of occasional jobs, as a window-dresser at one of the main department stores in Stockholm, and as an apprentice in his father's decorating firm, Bertil decided to become an artist. He was accepted for a 2-year foundation course at the National College of Arts, Crafts and Design (Konstfack), 1955. He continued his training in the Ceramics Department, under the guidance of Stig Lindberg - one of Sweden's foremost designers of ceramic art. In Gunnar Lindqvist's biography of Vallien, Bertil describes himself as "quite pompous". He was determined to succeed and spared no effort, working both by day and sometimes by night in order to achieve his goal. His efforts were rewarded.

Bertil's work at the college is influenced by Lindberg's expressive style. In his final year /1961/ he was awarded a silver medal by the Swed.Handicraft Society; he also won first prize in an inter-Nordic competition, and graduated from the college with honours.The Stockholm News notes that the Swedish king, who had shown great interest in the exhibition of students' work at the College, purchased a ceramic piece made by Bertil Wallin, and one by Ulrica Hydman. While Rebecka Tarschys, from "Design Magazine" fell for Bertil's graduation piece:"His ability to keep apart an exuberant and remarkable imagination from a more universal form required for utility artefacts is impressive; likewise a tempered ceramic bas-relief, on the theme of earth layers." He received numerous offers of work.

The Director of the Åfors factory, C-H Åfors, was eager to to take him on (Bertil had already spent a training year at the factory). His professional knowhow was sought by the Nyckelvikskolan in Stockholm (vocational school of arts and crafts), for their summer course in ceramics; and a certain Hal Fromhold , in America, wished to engage his services without delay.

He accepted the offer from Nyckelvik, leaving in September for the US - where the Hal Framholdt Ceramics awaited in downtown Los Angeles.

This is the former building belonged to National Collage of Arts, Craft and Design where Bertil Vallien was a studentfrom 1955 to 1961. The photo was taken in 1958 by Yngve Hellström.

Bertil Vallien at a horse during in his military service at K4 in Umeå, 1957.

The ceramic atellier at the National College of Arts, Craft and Design, 1958. Photo
:Tomas Anagrius.

The ceramic owen at the National College of Arts, Craft and Design 1959. Photo:
Sven-Gösta Johansson.




A sculpture from 1957. Bertil was deeply influenced by his teacher Stig Lindberg.





Earthenware teapot and jug - winning entries in an inter - nordic competition in which schools of applied art took part.