Listen as curator Tina Oldknow, describes “Unknown Destination II” by Swedish artist Bertil Vallien. “Unknown Destination II” reflects Bertil Vallien’s interest in Sweden’s Viking heritage. He uses boats as a metaphor for the journey (both physical and psychological), time, exploration, and self-discovery.
Vallien trained as a ceramist. Early in his career, he was influenced by American studio potters, such as Peter Voulkos. In 1963, Vallien was hired as a designer for the Åfors Glassworks in Småland, the center of the Swedish glassmaking industry. At Åfors, now a subsidiary of the well-known Kosta glass company, he produced designs for everyday objects, limited-production art glass, and unique works. He supported the involvement of artists in the factory, and he championed handcrafted objects over the machine-made.
In the mid-1960s, Vallien made his first experiments with sand casting glass. He later introduced this technique at Åfors and taught it to students in workshops around the world. With sand casting, Vallien was able to translate his sculptural ideas into glass.