The small square – Runnerströms torg – was given a memorial to the town’s benefactor, Axel Viktor Runnerström, in 1964. The location was carefully chosen, as it was known that he played in this spot as a child. Axel Viktor Runnerström was born in Ystad in 1888. His parents ran a restaurant in the town. When Runnerström was 18, he travelled first to Germany and then New York, where he started a brewery. He brewed beer in the same way that he had learned in Ystad and over time he became a wealthy man. When he died in 1958, he bequeathed a large sum of money to a foundation. The interest from the foundation was to go to the education of young people and the care of the poor and sick in Ystad. The fund is still active.
The memorial stone was to be accompanied by some form of public art. The commission went to artist Ivar Ålenius-Björk, who made three bronze reliefs. One of them is a portrait of Viktor Axel Runnerström with the text: “Axel Viktor Runnerström 1888-1958. He never forgot his childhood town.” The other reliefs depict young people studying and the elderly receiving help. In recent years, the square was given a complementary work by Ystad Municipality.
Ivar Ålenius-Björk was born in Malmö and educated at the Skåne Art School. He also studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Due to his modern idiom, his work was exhibited at the prestigious New York World’s Fair in 1939. Ivar Ålenius-Björk is also known for his collaboration with the company Ystad Metall, perhaps especially for Liljan (The Lily), a candlestick design that became a classic. His works of public art can be seen in places such as Malmö, Lund and Ängelholm. He also produced many portrait busts.
Another of his works – Längtan (Longing) – can be seen in Ystad, by the Ystad Abbey pond.