Blog Image

Letters from 68 degrees, Kiruna

Blog at 68 degrees

What's happening here at 68 degrees, a bed and breakfast in Kiruna.

web page:

Kiruna finally broken in two

Here at 68 degrees Posted on Fri, October 28, 2022 11:39:38

We knew it would be knocked down, soon, but when it happens it’s like a night time heist – a hidden burglary, a stealing of a building when no-one’s looking. One day there’s Vinterpalatset Hotel, in it’s usual prominent position, looking out from the town to the mine, standing proud on the hill, an old wooden building, part of Kiruna’s history. Then, suddenly, you drive past and it isn’t there.

This is how they do it. Long before it happens you know the building will have to be demolished. Years ahead. Then at some stage, behind closed doors, the current owners or tenants are bought out. So as to conceal the stage we are at, at that time new tenants are moved in, on unknown, temporary conditions. Then, one day when you aren’t looking, these tenants suddenly move out, but you wouldn’t know because the building continues to look occupied – lights on and a domestic item carefully placed by the doorway. Then over a period of a couple of months the building starts to look a bit different, but it’s easy to miss these signs. It looks as if it’s undergoing repairs. That’s what your brain sees – they’re mending the windows. But actually what they’re doing is removing certain items, preparing it for its execution.

Then one day the bulldozer moves in. Quietly. Of course if you live next door it isn’t quiet, but if you live a couple of streets away it is – there’s no announcement, no warning, no last minute speech from the gallows. You want the old hotel to celebrate its many years of Kiruna history, to remember its famous and infamous guests, to mark the occasion with – well something, I don’t know what. Not to have this sudden unseen departure, as if it’s never been.

It’s happening all over Kiruna, faster and faster. Yesterday the gallows went up for all the Erskine buildings in central Kiruna. A concrete skirt and low blue fence all around them, cutting right across the old town square, the centre of Kiruna. This really is The End.


Here at 68 degrees Posted on Fri, October 28, 2022 11:35:13

Rushing past to a car MOT appointment a few weeks ago (a 300 mile round trip, because no-one in Kiruna was available to do it), we screeched to a halt at a layby to look at this.

I’d captured the moment that was about to disappear – reflections in water are beautiful partly because they never last.

In the gallery in Kiruna’s new town last week one of the items on display was a sculpture I recognised – a large curvy shiny piece, shaped like a cloud. There used to be a number of these on the ceiling of Kiruna’s swimming pool. It was hard to see anything if you were still, but if you moved underneath them your own gliding figure appeared, gently changing shape as you passed by, both you and not you, willowy and wispy.

Called ‘Clouds’ (by Erling Johansson), these sculptures were removed from the pool earlier in the year in preparation for being moved to Kiruna’s new pool. I was really glad to be able to see one up close in the exhibition, but I was dismayed to see it had been placed sideways on a vertical wall facing me. Standing opposite, my reflected figure was stumpy and squat, like a fairground hall of mirrors distortion. I wanted to lie down sideways and swim to make it look like it used to. This is a sculpture that needs to be experienced lying down underneath, moving, and in water. It didn’t really work in an exhibition..

I returned a few days later to take a photo but it was no longer on display. ‘Reindeer bottoms’, I thought. You can never get a good photo of reindeer – they turn and run and all you get are pictures of retreating bottoms. I wonder if I will have the experience of those wispy water reflections again. Like waiting for the northern lights, wondering is part of the experience.