INSPIRATION SPRING 2020
– Swedish world heritage sites
THEY DAPPLE THE COUNTRYSIDE, those stately Hälsingland farms, a lovely sight while traveling through the region. The province is home to nearly 1000 farms, and seven of them are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Around 40 are open to the public and offer tours by the owners – most of whom have inherited the farms, which have been passed down in their families for centuries. We packed up the spring collection and visited some of the farms for photo shoots.
We spent five days visiting Ol-Anders, Löka, Hans Ers in Alfta and world heritage site Jon-Lars in Långhed. We were welcomed by energetic, proud, knowledgeable and enthusiastic owners who were directly descended from the farm founders, and they showed us around their magnificent and carefully preserved farms.
Thank you to Elisabeth at the Gästrike-Hälsinge local heritage association; Håkan at Jon-Lars; Ulla at Hansers; Mona, the costume-maker; Gudrun at Ol-Anders; Gun-Marie at Löka and Helena at the hotel Alfta Gästgiveri for your invaluable help!
MONA ROSENQVIST, costume-maker
At the Hans Ers farm, we meet Mona Rosenqvist, one of the few historical costume-makers in the world. Mona wears a traditional Alfta costume and tells us about the hundreds of different costumes in Hälsingland alone. Each parish has its own variation. Mona has an overflowing list of orders for new costumes – Swedish and Norwegian folk costumes, and even orders from other parts of the world. Making a costume doesn’t happen overnight. It requires deep knowledge of history, textiles and sewing.
Löka in GUNDBO
Atop a hill sits the three-building farm of Löka, a former family farm from the early 1600s. It is currently home to the Alfta local heritage association, which has a lovely textile collection and more. Here, we photographed the rich Falu red timber walls in different shades.
Intricately decorated DOORWAYS
– an important feature
The rich ornamentation of a home’s entry was important for displaying the family’s status and the quality of the farm. At important weddings, musicians welcomed guests at beautifully decorated doorways, known as brokvistar.
In Hälsingland, farmers were the dominant social class for a long time. They owned their own land and had power over the village. The farms were passed down through the family, and familial lines can often be traced all the way back to the 1500s Families presented their status at the big Hälsingland farms through beautiful paintings – which were often made by men from Dalarna – and extravagant woodwork.
Hälsingland, land of linen
The tradition of growing flax in Hälsingland can be traced back to the third century. But it was in the 1600-1800s that linen became interwoven with significant profit. Linen and damask fabrics from Hälsingland became well-known and were exported to the palaces of France, among other places. Working with flax was difficult and demanding – harvesting, rippling, scutching and spinning. In the nineteenth century, forestry proved to be much more profitable and cotton began to outcompete linen.
OL-ANDERS in Alfta
The farm is believed to be named after the farmer Olof Andersson, born in 1640. Long ago, OL-Anders was located by the church, but the farm was among those destroyed by the great fire of 1793. It was rebuilt on a hill and now serves as a visitors’ center for Hälsingland farms, with rich wall paintings and the Emigrant Museum, which presents the journey of emigrants from Alfta to Bishop Hill, Illinois.
EXQUISITE DECORATIONS at Jon-Lars
At the largest Hälsingland farm, Jon-Lars, we are given a tour by Håkan. He lives on the farm and is a descendent of the brothers who established it in 1850, after the previous house was destroyed in a fire. The brothers each decorated their half of the house in different styles. The walls are adorned with exclusive French wallpaper and incomparable turquoise blue paintings from the 1800s. Artisans were hired to build and decorate the buildings, which feature incredible craftsmanship and abundant gingerbread trim.
HANS ERS, ALFTA PARISH
The farm and the Hans Ers family were first mentioned already in 1560. Some exciting discoveries were made in the 1900s at Hans Ers, serving as a testament to the farm’s lengthy history. A reparation revealed a large and fascinating collection of painted linen tapestries, totaling 860 square feet – the oldest dating all the way back to 1565! We visit Hans Ers and meet Ulla Hansers, who is a direct descendent of the farm founders. She and her husband Per-Gunnar live on the farm and give regular tours of all the well-preserved buildings and their fascinating history.
Ulla, thank you for your hospitality!