I guess it's in my Danish blood, but ever since I can remember, I've been attracted to what could only be described as Nordic gloom. At art school I used to go the Arts Cinema in Cambridge to see all those black & white angst-ridden films by Ingmar Bergman starring Liv Ullman, Bibi Andersson and Max von Sydow. I like the understated colour and the mysterious beauty and sadness in the paintings of the Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi (I really enjoyed the retrospective of his work appropriately entitled 'The Poetry of Silence' at the Royal Academy in 2008). Interior with a Girl at the Clavier. 1901 :
Amongst my very favourite listening (probably my favourite) particularly when I'm painting is the haunting sounds of Icelandic group Sigur Rós. Here is Glósóli. Love the video too:
Then we have Inspector Kurt Wallander, Henning Mankell's great detective creation. I haven't actually started on the books yet, but I am going too. Good as the Kenneth Branagh TV series have been, they were far outweighed by the original Swedish series starring the dour Krister Henriksson. Much bleaker, they held a fascination for me and a longing for those minimalist Swedish landscapes around Malmö, and what I think of as 'Early Ikea' interiors (I remember the furniture from my childhood - Ikea was established in 1943).
Which brings me to Stieg Larsson, the latest publishing phenomenon. Three books in his Millennium trilogy delivered to his publisher just before he died, and they've gone on to sell something like 25 million copies so far. I am a fan. I think they're a great read, featuring a most unusual and original heroine in the shape of Lisbeth Salander. That's all - read the books. The novels have been made into films already, with Danish filmmaker Niels Arden Oplev directing. The first one, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", already well received abroad, opens on March 12 in this country. I'm looking forward to it.