Bertil meets the love of his life at the college. But she is already "occupied". At a party, he swings into action. Drinks rival under table, then he and Ulrica dance all night to the Wildcat Blues.


It is said that opposite poles attract, and this would certainly seem to apply in the case of Bertil and Ulrica.
Ulrica Hydman was also a student of ceramics at the College. She was born the same year as Bertil and grew up in a countrified area, near Stockholm, in a warm, artistic family. Unlike Bertil whose family background was more austere and filled with conflict. She didn't like him at all at first.

-I thought he was stuck up, she told a journalist in 1998.

Her antipathy may have been due to the fact that when she first set eyes on him, in 1957, Bertil was attired in regimental Cavalry uniform, that is to say, riding breeches and high leather boots, minus the whip. (He was doing military service at the time.)

But eventually they fell in love, and were inseparable throughout their college years.
However the path of true love never runs smooth, they say. And a milder version of the theme took place in 1959. At an outing to the archipelago, another guy made a play for Ulrica, and as the evening wore on he regaled her with tales of his diving exploits. The next morning, a daredevil, but hungover Bertil responded to the challenge by donning a heavy diving suit, and sinking beneath the icy waters of Sandhamn. After this show of bravado, Ulrica gave yielded-

After spending a summer training period together on the island of Bornholm, 1960 (with Arne and Tulla Ranslet, Bertil left on the SS Gripsholm, bound for the US. As the months went by he began to miss Ulrica terribly. He sent her love letters, and five months later she joined him in America. They travel to Mexico and to Guatemala, financing the trips with what he earns from his pottery and her extra job as a seamstress.

On their return to Sweden in 1963, they were definitely an item. In the small village of Åfors, however, the reactions to the newcomers were not entirely positive. The villagers considered Bertil and Ulrica to be 'living in sin'. Evidence of this took place at the home of the Åfors family. As Ulrica (once) explained to journalist G. Fridner:
-We were going to stay the night with them. They put me in the maid's room, and Bertil in the guest room. Mrs Greta Åfors didn't think we should be in the same room together, let alone in the same bed!

1963. They make a snap decision to get married. A civil wedding, at which their two witnesses (who had slipped out to the cloakroom to arrange their hairstyles) missed the climax of the ceremony - the exchange of vows!
The honeymoon was spent on the island of Öland, in a tent on the southern side. They had already bought a house - the oldest, most ramshackle cottage in the village - from the managing director of Åfors, for the ludicrous price of 10 thousand crowns. The cottage was eventully restored and renovated. Their first son, Hampus, was born in 1965. Two years later Mattias arrived and in 1969 Markus was born. Tragedy struck when Mattias, aged one and a half, drowned in the pond.

It is now over forty years ago since Bertil and Ulrica first met. They are still living in the same house, and in the same environment that has shaped their lives - Åfors. Additional properties include a summer cottage in Stockholm archipelago, and a Stockholm apartment. Whenever they want to get away for a bit they take out their sailing boat. Their sons are now grown up and have children of their own. Markus lives in the forest outside Afors and runs his own company. Elder brother, Hampus, is a lawyer and lives in Stockholm.

Why did Bertil fall for Ulrica? A question he was asked some years ago.

-Well, she's very attractive, very charming and very exciting. She's wonderfully straightforward, and puts up a resistance. We have always been each other's fiercest critic. We live, you might say, in a constant state of creative tension. We fire, and mutually stimulate each other's work.....

I know them well, having worked at the Afors glass-factory (as a glass painter) for nine years. Temperamentally, they are indeed at opposite ends of the scale: Bertil is more of an introvert, pensive and articulate. While with Ulrica you have to be prepared for quick retorts and the occasional verbal knock-out. But they both have strong personalities, they're humorous and warm-hearted. They care about people, and take responsibility for their roles at the factory, moreover they're both brilliant artists.

Diving at Sandhamn, 1959.

 

 

 

 



Bertil at the danish island Bornholm, 1960.

 

 

 

Married! Photo taken in 1963.

 

 

 

 



At home in Bromsastugan. Photo: Ola Terje.


 

 

 

A very special sailingboat...

 

 

 

 


...with a removeable rowing boat!




 

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