The light in Gotland is unlike the light anywhere else. Silvery, mercurial nearly translucent even in the height of summer, at noon. Perhaps it's because Gotland is an island, surrounded by the reflective powers of the sea but whatever it is, the light of Gotland is something in a realm unto itself and a photographers dream.
Our farmhouse home during the workshop made it even easier to love the light – with its soft plaster walls, heavy stone sills and perfectly directed windows. Thought and care had clearly been put into the building and more importantly the position of the building just so as to capture every last single liquid drop of light. It easily enticed the first few slivers of daylight and ensnared the last rays of evening. Its painted floors bounced light into all corners including the eves of the most charming room in the house – a whitewashed bunk room of sorts with sheepskin rugs and blue ticked duvets. Scandinavian to the letter and charming beyond measure.
In the days before our guests arrival, we fussed and fluttered between kitchen, gardens and fields. Testing recipes, with helpful comments of a touch more salt or a few minutes more or, more often than not, hoping for a stray slice of one of Linda’s beautiful cakes and a cup of that goodly strong Swedish coffee. From the fields we gathered leggy white-capped flowers and greenery by the armloads- filling vessels and baskets to the brim with the blooms and scents of Gotland. We hung birch branches, thin and pliable in our hands, on the various mantles of the house and entwined them around the candle chandelier over the dining table. And below it, on the silvery blue surface of the Gustavian era table, we set out the myriad of place settings in anticipation of the welcome meal that evening. Though there would be many other meals over the next days, cocktails and picnics and the like, this particular meal still resonates. Long after the pudding was served – a stunningly modern, elegant twist on a Swedish classic by Olivia, a brothy etherial apple and rose petal delight – we stayed at the table, chatting and conjuring a sort of magic that would stay with our little group over the next days.
We welcomed guests that first evening, our table set with beautiful items from Broste Copenhagen and with a sublime meal made by Olivia – a truly brilliant an inspiring chef – eight stunning courses in all & each more beautiful than the last. But before this welcome feast, there was a horse-drawn carriage ride through the Gotland forest surrounding the farmhouse and a champagne toast and canapes (the simplest of crisp breads elevated with a homemade truffle cheese and a pretty pickled onion, also made my Olivia) set at the base of the old stone-walled windmill on the property.
Our days were filled with explorations of the creative process, intermingled with styling sessions, meals, demonstrations by Olivia and Linda and the constant and stead fast smells of cinnamon and cardamom rising from heavy stone-floors kitchen. We took trips to town to see the walled medieval viking city of Visby. Meandered its cobbled streets loosing ourselves and one another among the twists and turns of the hilly slops only to encounter another from our group, at the next bend, lens pointed ahead, admiring the architecture and the rambling rose vines of the houses in the village. There were vista points from which we could catch a glimpse of the Baltic sea while snacking on delicious homemade ice creams. We had a lovely picnic lunch at an ancient swedish garden of cold salads, summery tomato tarts, crisp breads and swedish cheeses. Thought despite our best styled efforts, or little picnic was rained out and so became more of a floor picnic inside the old house but jolly and delicious all the same. On a less tempestuous day, there was an enchanted and very sunny lunch on the lawn at Hotel Stelor full of the flavors of Swedish summer – fresh garden crudités, a sweet corn risotto and little glasses filled with a perfect Swedish splash of orange wine
It was truly a joy getting to know each of our guests. We are always fascinated with other people stories and this group was rich with life and experience. Coming from all corners of the globe, open to sharing, creating and finding inspiration in themselves, each other, us & the landscape of Gotland. We feel so grateful to have been a part of it all for those few days.
Thank you to everyone who attended, for their passion and creative energy and all our amazing sponsors who helped make out days together truly special, beautiful and delicious.