Sculpture at Pilane 2011 – interview with renowned American sculptor, Keith Edmier

Keith Edmier's sculpture at Pilane

Keith Edmier's sculpture at Pilane

Visitors to West Sweden can now experience the eclectic ‘Sculpture at Pilane 2011’, set at one of the most beautifully-situated historical sites in Sweden on Tjörn island (open June to September). Admire the fascinating contemporary exhibits set amongst thousand year-old ancient remains in the Swedish countryside.

The sculptures include the work of the famous British artist, Tony Cragg, currently exhibiting at the Louvre Museum in Paris; the Irish artist, Eva Rothschild, creator of the cutting-edge ‘Empire’ sculpture in Central Park, New York and the renowned American sculptor, Keith Edmier, famous for his collaboration with Farrah Fawcett and his exhibits at many contemporary museums worldwide, including the Tate Modern. Here Keith reflects on what inspires his work and describes what is so special about Sculpture at Pilane 2011…

Describe your sculpture at Pilane? What was the inspiration behind it and what appeals to you about having it showcased at this site?
My sculpture at Pilane takes the form of a Viking Age boat burial. I am connecting this custom to a shipwreck from my own time and place – The S S Edmund Fitzgerald – an iron ore freighter ship that went down in the waters of Lake Superior in North America on 10 November, 1975. The boat in my sculpture is a lifeboat based on the ones recovered from the Edmund Fitzgerald. The interior surface of the lifeboat’s hull is covered in taconite pellets (a type of iron ore) that was the cargo of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The lifeboat is set into the ground, in a trench in the middle of a large mound of earth. After the sculpture’s exhibition, the lifeboat will be covered in earth and remain at Pilane underground, for it to be buried permanently.

I first came to Pilane in November 2010 to meet with Peter Lennby, the owner of Pilane, to discuss a possible sculpture project. I’d previously worked with Dylan Farnum, an extremely talented art fabricato and he recommended my work to Peter. I knew intuitively that the site would become a place of inspiration for me, given my ongoing interest in sculpture in its relationship to geology, archaeology, history and belief, especially with regards to the forms of monuments and memorials.

I came to Pilane with the knowledge that the exhibition space was located on the site of an Iron Age burial ground. I was particularly drawn to the stone judgment circles there. This led me to initially investigate the rock art of Tjörn in particular, but also the rock art of the Bohuslän region of West Sweden in general.

When I first came to Pilane, I visited the petroglyph at Basteröd, which is close to the exhibition site. The carving on the rock depicts fifteen ships. This was the initial inspiration to make a sculpture based somehow on the form of a boat.

I’m extremely excited that the sculpture is installed at the actual place of its inspiration and the possibility that it will become another archaeological layer to the rich history of Pilane.

How did you get into sculpting and what are your proudest projects to date?
In one way or another I have been sculpting since I was a child. I initially worked in Hollywood during the 1980’s doing special effects. I decided to pursue sculpture full time in 1991 when I moved to New York. I began exhibiting my work in 1993. Since then, I have made numerous sculptural projects in all sorts of mediums. I have to say my project at Pilane is one of my favourites – both in it being my largest, outdoor, permanent sculpture to date and in its direct relationship to the site.

What do you think of the other exhibits at Pilane this year?
I really think the whole exhibition came together beautifully. It’s a nice mixture between pieces that blend into the landscape like mine, and those that contrast it with their forms, colour and materials. The exhibition is laid out almost cinematically, but with the added advantage of the visitor’s ability to experience it from unlimited vantage points – in an environment I can almost guarantee they have never seen contemporary art in before.

What do you think of West Sweden?
I have found West Sweden incredibly beautiful, tranquil, and somehow magical. Its history and pre-history have not only inspired this project, but future ones as well. In addition to Pilane and the island of Tjörn, I would highly recommend a visit to Vitlycke Museum in Tanumshede to explore some of West Sweden’s most important rock carving sites.

Entry into Sculpture at Pilane 2011 is free for under 18s and costs 80 SEK ($12/£8) per adult. For further information, visit or