Escape of the Week: Sculptures at Pilane

Written by on May 28, 2012 in Destinations - 26 Comments

The island of Tjörn, located in Western Sweden, is home to enchanting fishing villages that attract flocks of tourists each summer, thanks to the warm temperatures and vast expanses of sea to drop a boat into and set off into the late sunset.

In keeping with the outdoor exploration encouraged in this region, Sculpture at Pilane offers a different way to take in the fresh air. A mix of contemporary art and ancient history, the summertime outdoor museum is not only a lesson in Sweden’s Viking roots, but also a beautiful exhibition of art set against rolling emerald green hills speckled with granite outcroppings.

During the Iron Age, this spot was used as a meeting place, and today, visitors can witness the past thanks to the 100 circle graves that date back to the time of Vikings, more than 2,000 years ago.

Viking graves

Today, the area merges old with new, and invites artists from all over the world to create sculptures and place them against this lush landscape.

“The landscape makes the art visible,” say Peter Lennby, who has been at the helms of the project for six years. “It is easier to focus on the art here than in a gallery or city.”

And, it’s true.

The sculptures, set against the vibrant green grass and granite, pop.

Grand Latent Blanc, Jaume Plensa

Each summer, Sculpture at Pilane opens its little admissions shed and offers visitors a chance to explore this  spot that overlooks the Gothenburg archipelago.

This year, the annual exhibition features nine international artists. The largest installation, Temple, by China’s Zhang Huan, will sit atop the rocks, allowing visitors to explore a recreation of a Chinese temple, along with spectacular views of the water below.

Other pieces include American artist Keith Edmier’s “You Gotta Go Out, You Don’t Have To Come Back.” For this piece, he took the remains of a boat which sunk near Chicago and transported it to Sweden. He pays homage to the Viking ritual of burying the dead in the boat. This year, the boat sits with the mounds of dirt surrounding it. Next year, according to Lennby, they hope to bury the boat in this spot.

You Gotta Go Out, You Don't Have To Come Back, Keith Edmier

Swedish artist Claes Hake recreates Wall Street in this immense granite installation.

Wall Street, Claes Hake

Created by waste, this fiberglass piece is by Germany’s Wilhelm Mundt. Known for his work in this medium, Trashstone 306 is one of many he has created thanks to recycling waste.

Trashstone 306, Wilhelm Mundt

Bronze and trees combine in this piece, “The Heart of Trees,” by Spain’s Jaume Plensa.

The Heart of Trees, Jaume Plensa

In the distance, United Kingdom’s Tony Cragg’s piece, “Point of View,” made from bronze, sits perched on higher ground.

Point of View, Tony Cragg

Getting there: From Gothenburg, head on the E6 towards Oslo. Exit at Stenungsund and follow signs to Tjörn. Cross the Tjörn Bridge and turn left at the light. Follow 169 towards Skarhamn. At the Wallhamn crossroad, turn right towards Kallekarr and Krykesund. Pass Kallekarr and then follow the brown signs for “Pilane Gravfait” towards Kryreksund.

Cost: 80 sek for adults; 15 and under are free.

Editor’s Note: My time in Sweden is courtesy of Visit Sweden, however all opinions are my own. If you have questions regarding this, please read my disclosure policy.


About the Author

Diana Edelman is an avid traveler who recently spent four years living as an expat. Most notably, Diana spent nearly three years in Chiang Mai, Thailand where she worked with Save Elephant Foundation to raise awareness about the realities of elephant tourism. Currently based in Las Vegas, Diana works in many industries as a publicist, social media expert, content creator and journalist. The founder of Vegans, Baby, you can normally find her hanging out at vegan restaurants around town, exploring the beauty of the desert southwest or camped out at a coffee shop banging on a keyboard. The co-founder of the Responsible Travel & Tourism Collective, Diana has spoken at conferences about travel blogging and responsible tourism.

26 Comments on " Escape of the Week: Sculptures at Pilane "

  1. Laurence May 28, 2012 at 3:18 pm · Reply

    I love the sculptures of the people holding the trees as they grow. Really cool art that 🙂

    • Diana May 30, 2012 at 12:28 pm · Reply

      That one, along with the boat, were my favorites. In person, the people holding the trees is so much more impressive than any photo can convey.

  2. Ayngelina May 28, 2012 at 6:22 pm · Reply

    Really interesting juxtaposition of new art against the history of the area.

    • Diana May 30, 2012 at 12:28 pm · Reply

      I think so, too!

  3. Christy @ Technosyncratic May 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm · Reply

    This is so cool! I love large art installations like this (my favorite form of art, in fact), and Pilane is such a wonderful place to put them.

    • Diana May 30, 2012 at 12:28 pm · Reply

      It really is a great place for them. They truly pop and let people appreciate not only the history, but the present and the surroundings, too.

  4. Gaelyn May 28, 2012 at 7:44 pm · Reply

    So true these sculptures are well displayed outdoors, especially set amongst all the lush green.

    • Diana May 30, 2012 at 12:27 pm · Reply

      It really calls attention to them! I missed it the first time I was driving and ended up way up the hill. But, on the way back, it was hard not to miss the sculptures dotting the landscape.

  5. Angela May 29, 2012 at 4:00 am · Reply

    So much green, looks like my ideal kind of place for a day out!

    • Diana May 30, 2012 at 12:26 pm · Reply

      So lush!!! Had the weather not been nasty, it would have been such a beautiful walk! Although, it still was beautiful!

  6. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures May 29, 2012 at 8:15 am · Reply

    I have to visit this place, it looks so cool!!!!

    • Diana May 30, 2012 at 12:26 pm · Reply

      Andi, it really is!

  7. Ali May 29, 2012 at 10:11 am · Reply

    That looks really cool! I’ve never been to Sweden, but I’d love to. Adding this to the list!

    • Diana May 30, 2012 at 12:26 pm · Reply

      Definitely! It is worth it!

  8. Traveling Crone May 29, 2012 at 11:33 am · Reply

    How wonderful! As an artist and a traveller this post held great appeal to me. In Vancouver, Canada we have an International Sculpture Biennale ( ) which I adore. I especially enjoyed your photo of Jaume Plensa’s work since one of my fav during the last Biennale was his piece, “We”. I loved the juxtaposition of ancient with modern sculpture, which could very well be the “ancient art” 100 years from now. Thank you for sharing such an interesting event.

    • Diana May 30, 2012 at 12:25 pm · Reply

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. I really like how old an new merge together on the grounds at Pilane. Plensa’s piece is gorgeous!

  9. Sophie May 29, 2012 at 2:28 pm · Reply

    What a cool place! I know of heaps of interesting things to see in this part of Sweden, but I’ve never heard of this one… even though I’m just a few hours north.

    • Diana May 30, 2012 at 12:25 pm · Reply

      It was really cool! I only wish the weather had been better! But, still, a great place to spend a morning wandering when the sun is out!

  10. Bohemian Trails May 30, 2012 at 3:11 pm · Reply

    I loved looking at all these pictures! I recently went to a sculpture garden in Jerusalem and loved it!

    • Diana May 31, 2012 at 1:05 pm · Reply

      Thank you! I haven’t been to many sculpture gardens like this … it was really lovely!

  11. Erica May 30, 2012 at 4:08 pm · Reply

    Cute place! I always find myself roaming places like this for far too long.

    • Diana May 31, 2012 at 1:04 pm · Reply

      Had the weather been a bit nicer, I am pretty sure I could have spent a long time there!

  12. Stephanie - The Travel Chica June 3, 2012 at 6:11 pm · Reply

    I love outdoor art like this.

    • Diana June 12, 2012 at 6:00 pm · Reply

      Me, too!!

  13. Josh @ Green Global Travel June 5, 2012 at 8:45 pm · Reply

    Looks like a great place to visit! Very interesting how the art from Sculptures at Pilane ties into Sweden’s history. Thanks for sharing these amazing photos as well.

    • Diana June 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm · Reply

      It is a great place to visit. 🙂

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