I spent a few days in my father-in-law’s winter house with my husband and his family in Mora, Sweden during my Christmas holiday. My mother-in-law told us that there is a local artist lives near by that we should pay a visit to her place. So we did but combining dog walking at the same time. As I struggled through the icy road with my Ugg wooden heeled boots like a penguin sliding on ice, I started seriously doubting if it’s really worth all this effort of risking YouTube worthy epic falls to see a woman who I never heard of. Thank god, we finally made a turn, off the icy road, into the forest. After further more walking, I finally saw a shiny lake appeared behind all the trees. We made it! There were a few rastic style wooden houses surrounding the lake. As we walked closer to the houses, I realised that the houses are all locked up, no signs of life. Really, it’s the day after Christmas after all, what else should I expect? I found a note on the notice board, I started reading it like a deflated balloon.
I put my husband’s free labour into good use, here is the translation in English ‘We’re opening mostly at around 9 or 10. But sometimes as early as 7, and some days as late as 12 or 13. We’re closing at 17’ish or 18. Sometimes around 16 or half past 16, but occasionally as late as 23 or 24. Some days or afternoons it could happen that we’re not here at all, but the last days we’ve been here all the time, except when we have been somewhere else, but we should have been here’.
Just as I was standing there, scratching my little brain, trying to work out when it’s the correct time to visit them, an old man appeared from nowhere like a puff of smoke. My mother-in-law started speaking to him in Swedish and the old man went into a house at the other side of the gate. ‘He’s gone to get his wife’, my mother-in-law said, ‘the artist is home.’ Moments later, a little old woman walked out from the house and greeted us in Swedish and English ( for my benefit, of course). I was surprised by how willingly and happily of the artist to show us, only four people plus a dog, this place the day after Christmas. (If it was me, I would show the visitors my shot-gun, how dare you to disturb me at Christmas.) She’s not only showed us her little gallery that is filled with full of beautiful hand-painted plates and China wears. There is a table in the middle of the gallery with plates neatly placed on it. Each plate has a hand painted poem on it, each poem is from the winners of Nobel literature prize from different years and there is a broken flower vase with poem on it in the middle of the table, the poem is about love. It really got my imagination spinning. The artist even predicted the winner for last year’s Nobel literature prize winner, it made me wonder if she’s got the ability to predict lottery winning numbers.
She’s also got a lovely studio, a charming little chapel for her to clear her thoughts, a cute little shop to display and sell some of her works, a traditional wooden house for catering visitors and outside seating areas dotting around the lake. In the summer, you can come to the lake to fish for free.
I was so impressed with her work so we went to her shop to have a browse to see if we can buy something we like. She opened the door with the biggest key I’ve ever seen, I was worried she might break her back from carrying the key. There was no electricity so we had to rely on my husband’s good eyes (I may have beautiful eyes but they are for display only without glasses), suddenly a little spot of light appeared behind us, the old man came to the rescue with the tiniest torch I’ve ever seen. As we were looking through all the plates and jugs, I noticed that she’s painted mosquitoes on every piece of her work. As if we haven’t taken notice, the old man smiled and said ‘ look, a mosquito.’ He pointed at inside of a jug. I don’t know why she chose to paint mosquitoes on all her pieces, never met anyone who loves mosquitoes. I don’t, do you? But I can assure you that mosquitoes love me, if you looked at over 30 mosquitoes ‘kisses’ that they left on my legs while I was visiting Thailand, you will know. That’s why I don’t dare to go to Transylvania, can you imagine what the damage the mosquitoes will do to me there? We set our heart on a blue and yellow patterned rim plate with a poem about talking to strangers in the middle of the plate. I can’t read it because it’s in Swedish but the painting is so beautiful, that’s good enough for me. The artist told us that it normally takes her three days to make one plate. We paid 640 SEK for the place which is about £60. £60 for a three days work, I felt like I just robbed the old woman.
Next time, when you’re in Mora, please go visit the artist. It’s a beautiful place with full of characters but please don’t ask me where exactly it is, I’m a woman with no sense of directions, I will get lost even with a GPS in my hands. However, you can borrow the family dog to guide you if you can bribe him with enough meatballs.