Swedish sculptural surprises amidst Lund’s mediaeval grandeur
I’ve been in Lund, Sweden since Wednesday, as a guest of Teofil to speak for Langham at 2 conferences this week. It is a real thrill to be here for the first time, since my late Grandmother was Swedish and the country has always been part of our family’s folklore.
Lund is a lovely, ancient University town right in the south (only 40 mins by train, in fact, from Danish Copenhagen). It is dominated by the magnificent cathedral, which dates from AD1080. So with a couple of hours to spare before things kicked off on Thursday, I was able to go for a wander. It is an impressive building – I was especially taken with the wonderfully atmospheric crypt, the extraordinary astronomical clock and the severe grandeur of the original Romanesque architecture.
But a nice surprise was a temporary sculpture exhibition in a lady chapel of contemporary Swedish sculptress Lena Lervik. There were no explanations in English so I can’t be 100% sure what they were all seeking to suggest – but it was possible to make a pretty good stab. The photo above shows 2 installations – one in the foreground is clearly a pregnant Mary – it is stunning because the back is covered in gold leaf which shimmers in the subdued mediaeval light. But facing her is what I can only assume is the bronze serpent of Numbers 21 and John 3:14, observed in the shadows by a number of penitent believers. It’s a fascinating juxtaposition – for of course, John’s use of the serpent imagery points to the lifting up of the Son of Man on the cross (and probably also the resurrection). In other words, the suffering of the Christ. And the way these pieces were installed (who knows if it was intentional – I’m inclined to think it was) Mary looks on, bearing the child who will suffer in this way. There is a profound poignancy here.
Here are a few other snaps from around the building (to see the whole set, click here).
Finally, I encountered this curiosity on the choir stalls. What can it mean?! 2 earnest pilgrims seeking God – only find that he’s a squirrel…?!? Or what? Not exactly the sort of piety you’d expect from a devout mediaeval carpenter… Any suggestions?