Group 2

Siri Derkert, The Fogelstad Choir, 1943-1954 © Siri Derkert / Bildupphovsrätt 2016

Report from Fogelstad

The Women’s College for Civic Training at Fogelstad was founded in 1925 and continued to operate until 1954. It was open only for women and was started on a private initiative, attracting several of the women behind the radical weekly magazine Tidevarvet (The Era), along with many prominent cultural representatives, politicians, writers and intellectuals as Ada Nilsson, Emilia Fogelklou, Alexandra Kollontay, Elin Wägner, Hagar Olsson, Kerstin Hesselgren, to name but a few.

The estate owner Elisabeth Tamm was one of the initiators and put her manor house in the county of Södermanland at the disposal of the college. Her friend Honorine Hermelin took on the position as principal. The curriculum included the major issues of the modern era – the development of democracy, social policy, feminism and peace – mixed with outings, choir singing and exercise. The idea was to foster independent, free-thinking citizens. The Swedish author Moa Martinson describes her time at Fogelstad in the following words: “Here, new strata in my brain were put to work.”

Siri Derkert came to Fogelstad for the first time in 1943. During her sojourns she sketched constantly. Her portraits were regarded as brutal caricatures by many, not least by the models themselves. Today it is obvious that Derkert regenerated the genre of portraiture, while finding a new, fertile road in her own development as an artist. Twenty years later, she used the portraits and the ideas from the college in her large concrete etchings that now adorn the Östermalmstorg underground station in Stockholm – a 145-metre long tribute to the women at Fogelstad.

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