Feb 14, 2017

­­Children of their time – from the Hallwyl House to the Million Programme at Hammarkullen  

Hallwyl Museum

In March 1973, the Swedish photographer Jens S. Jensen (1946-2015) visited Hammarkullen for the first time. He didn’t know then that he would come back and document the Gothenburg suburb and its inhabitants throughout the rest of his life.

In 2017 his images are on exhibition at the Hallwyl Museum, contrasted with photos of Ebba, Ellen and Irma von Hallwyl, daughters of the museum’s founder Wilhelmina von Hallwyl. In the exhibition we get to visit two different eras and two very different places. Here you can see a sample of some of the photographs.

Move the cursor over the images, to see their titles.

When Jens S. Jensen first came to Hammarkullen, the children came to him and wanted him to take pictures of them. They found it exciting to be photographed.

While the parents where away working, the teenagers of Hammarkullen were left to themselves. When Jensen took an interest in their lives, he won their trust.

His aim was to document the life in Hammarkullen without the stereotypical depictions of the ”million programme” apartment blocks. His story developed through conversations with the inhabitants of the suburb.

People without financial or social resources have often been documented and described without having much influence on the description. Jensen wanted to step away from that perspective and allow the people he met to tell their own story.

In this exhibition we let the kids of Hammarkullen meet Ebba, Ellen and Irma von Hallwyl, daughters of Wilhelmina von Hallwyl, founder of the Hallwyl museum. They grew up during the 1870’s and 80’s.

In the 1970’s it had become common to have your own compact camera and many families collected pictures from birthdays and holidays in photo albums. It was unusual to be portrayed by a professional photographer. The von Hallwyl girls, on the other hand, were used to having their portraits taken at a photo studio, with fine clothes and props to create the right atmosphere.

In the late 19th Century, cameras were expensive, heavy and required a lot of light. It was very difficult to take snap shots. Most portraits were taken in a studio and you had to stand still for a long time in order to get a sharp image. That’s why it’s rare to see smiling people in old photos.

The image above, to the right, would have been impossible a hundred years earlier, in darkness and with Nettan moving. Irma, to the left, is well lit and standing still with steady support for her arms.

Despite the different conditions, we find similar expressions in these images. Above we see Irma in the 1870’s and Björn, 6 years old, in 1973.

Around the turn of the last century, the box camera was developed and photography became easier, but there were still few individuals who owned a camera. Wilhelm von Geijer, husband of Irma, was a keen amateur photographer and captured many moments of their lives. This is Irma, 38 years, playing with her children Margit and Erik.

Here it’s the 1990’s. Björn, now 26 years old, is playing with his daughter Kaja.

When Jens S. Jensen first came to Hammarkullen, the children came to him and wanted to be photographed. Later, when mobile cameras became the norm, attitudes changed and it became harder for him to find subjects.

This image is a typical studio photo. Ebba and Ellen, with their cousin Hilma in the middle, are dressed in riding clothes and hats and carry riding crops, in order to give the impression that they are just about to go out for a ride.

There are almost no preserved images of the von Hallwyl girls together with friends. This photo, depicting Ebba with her graduation class in 1884 is one of few exceptions.

“Why don’t you take a photo of me hanging on that wall?” “Sure, but how..?” “Just wait and see!” says the boy and disappears around the corner. Then he climbs over the edge and shouts: “NOW!”
The boy on the wall is Michael Carlsson. He was supposed to participate in a filmed interview about growing up in Hammarkullen in the 1970’s, but sadly he passed away at the end of 2016. This exhibition is dedicated to Michael.

Hallwyl Museum
Credits: Story

Photo: Jens S. Jensen
Producer: Sara Dixon
Text: Sara Dixon/Niclas Östlind
Image editing: Erik Lernestål
Copyright: Jens S. Jensen estate
Thanks to Hasselblad Center for kindly letting us show these images.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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