9 March - 13 April 2023




Faced with her Living Matter exhibition, Gunnel Sahlin digs where she is standing. Living matter like the earth that she is working with, that she penetrates, studies and refines in the Swedish province of Södermanland where she lives and works.


There is a muted note; the iron in the sand that creates the dark brown tones in the glass in her new works. And at times the light finds its way to the surface, becomes tangible as the new item, assumes its form. Growing out of the earth.


Like photosynthesis. The cycle of life that gives substance to the lustrously green items.

Over the years it has become all the more important for Gunnel Sahlin to study her surroundings. She does not, for example, seek inspiration from travelling. That involves too much observing. Rather, she makes a detailed study of the place where she finds herself. Down among the minerals and plants.


“The trees talk to each other. They help each other”, Gunnel explains, as she seems to enjoy the fact of her new insights and understanding of nature. Even the objects in her exhibition cooperate, reinforcing and supporting each other. Together they create life; a life-cycle. New life grows out of old life, rising from the earth. Youthful life.


Gunnel and I have met in the past. At Arninge north of Stockholm. The reason was an artistic treatment of the massive staircase in the factory building.


Art can do miracles for creativity and development, and thereby of profitability. Art is research that shows the path to the future. I have tested this on a number of occasions and will try it again. Often there has been a degree of opposition from management or the board.


Gunnel measured the site and reflected. She wandered about. It was a fine, sunny day and the light played upon the white walls.


We took farewell of each other in Arninge. Gunnel to reflect, and to make drawings in her studio and me to my next meeting.


“There won’t be anything for Arninge”, Gunnel explained bluntly when we spoke to each other a day or two later. “Glass is just the wrong material. It doesn’t make its presence felt. You will have to think of something else.”


That is an example of artistic integrity. Something unusual but worthy of respect.


Now that we are meeting again, it is integrity that becomes so apparent. For many years Gunnel Sahlin has worked together with master glassblower Micke Johansson. The works that she has created with him are no shy violets and are entirely essential. Living Matter causes me to realize something self-evident: that life does, indeed, matter.


Gunnel’s works give me hope – hope of life.


Thank you.


Joachim Berner, entrepreneur and author