An artwork from Public Art in Ystad
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Foto Markus Fägersten

Foto Markus Fägersten

The Seagulls

Elfgren, Gunnar (1896-1976)
Bronze on granite plinth
Height: 5.2m
Ystad Marina

At Ystad Marina, two gilded seagulls in bronze hover over a tall, slender granite pedestal. The birds had previously been placed in the harbour area and by the railway station. When they came to Gröningen – the green open space by the marina – their placement went a little awry. The story is as follows: The Seagulls is a gift from the twin-town of Ekenäs in gratitude for the help Ystad gave to Finland during the war years of 1939-1944. The sculpture is a strong symbol of the twin-town concept. The twin-town movement, originally an inter-Nordic cultural exchange, began in connection with Swedish aid to Finland during the Second World War. Ekenäs, south-west of Helsinki, became Ystad’s twin-town in Finland at an early stage. A strong and widespread commitment in Ystad led to extensive support for Ekenäs.

The pedestal bears the following inscription: “Strong wings bear the gift of goodwill. A grateful reminder of sacrifices in troubled times. Erected by the twin-town Ekenäs in 1963.” A similar sculpture stands in Ekenäs where the gulls’ direction of flight is towards Ystad. It was therefore important that Ystad’s gulls should have their beaks pointing towards Ekenäs, but this was not the case when The Seagulls was put in place at Gröningen. Before it was changed, many opinions were aired in the town on whether gulls actually fly over land or sea. But, when it became clear that the direction The Seagulls faced was very important for the artwork, the mistake was corrected.

The Finnish artist Gunnar Elfgren started his studies at the Finnish Art Society’s Drawing School 1920-1921. During his career he worked mainly as a portrait artist and sculptor. In the years 1927-1937, his work was often shown at various international exhibitions. In Finland, he is most remembered today for his war memorial in Ekenäs.