The designer of the Eurovision Song Contest trophy has his first UK solo show this month, in Norwich
Sweden’s glass art master on show in Norwich
On the evening of May 18, as around 200 million people around the world tune in to watch the final of the Eurovision Song Contest, the Swedish designer of that coveted, iconic glass trophy will be in Norwich for the opening of his first major UK solo exhibition, at Gallery in the Lanes, Bedford Street.
Kjell Engman, now in his 70s and a legendary figure within the world of art glass collecting, was commissioned to design the
Eurovision trophy in 2008. Made from solid, clear glass in the style of a classic microphone, it is remade each year with the name of the host city.
A second ‘back-up’ trophy is also made and stored in a vault, just in case anything happens to the first one. “I love designing trophies,” he says. “It creates a tangible memory to a special moment.”
But trophies are just a small part of Engman’s prolific output. As an artist at Kosta Boda, one of the world’s leading brands of glassware and art glass, he has the freedom to create whatever he wishes. Still tirelessly productive, with unbounded imagination and a passion for narrative, Engman’s style is distinctive and immediately recognisable.
If you thought all Swedish design was simple, functional and minimal, this exhibition will make you think again. Figurative, fantastical and frequently witty, using bold and bright colours,
Engman’s art work is as far removed from our ideas about Scandinavian style as you can imagine.
His inspiration comes from the natural world and his love of music. “I like to make glass you can feel, glass that appeals to all of our senses and tries to make use of refraction and light,” he says. “I want my art to paint pictures and tell stories all at the same time.”
Something of a rock n’ roll figure who plays guitar in a band and still enjoys riding around on his motorbike, Engman has a reputation as one of Sweden’s most outstanding artists working in glass. His work is collected world-wide – Bob Hope and Prince were collectors – and he has created installations in schools, churches, concert halls and universities.
He also designed the stunning blue glass bar in Kosta Boda’s Art Hotel which opened in 2009 near their glassworks in the heart of the Småland forests – operational since 1742 and the oldest in the country.
And who will he be rooting for in this year’s Eurovision final? “My trophy is a beautiful piece of art for whoever wins the contest,” he says. “But of course, I always love the Swedes!” Kjell Engman: Journey of Dreams is at Gallery in the Lanes, Bedford Street, Norwich from May 18 to June 28. galleryinthelanes.co.uk
“I like to make glass you can feel, glass that appeals to all of our senses and tries to make use of refraction and light”
Light as air – Dramatisk Himmel Zeppelinare by Kjell Engman
And the winner is... Engman’s Eurovision trophy
Glass master Kjell Engman at work