King presents Prince Eugen Medal

Motiv: The King in discussion with goldsmith Helena Edman. Photo. Henrik Garlöv/
On Tuesday 6 December, The King presented the Prince Eugen Medal at a ceremony at the Royal Palace in Stockholm.
The Prince Eugen Medal is awarded for outstanding artistic achievements.

This year's recipients are:

  • Goldsmith Helena Edman
  • Sculptor Rune Rydelius
  • Photographer Gunnar Smoliansky
  • Textile artist Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir (Iceland)
  • Architect Jan Gehl (Denmark)

The Prince Eugen Medal was instituted by Gustav V to mark the 80th birthday of Prince Eugen in 1945.

Jury's decisions for Prince Eugene Medal 2011

Helena Edman (b. 1952)
Helena Edman is one of Sweden's foremost goldsmiths. Since the mid 1980s she has preserved and renewed Swedish jewellery making traditions with great integrity and craftsmanship. Her main material is rose gold and she prefers to work with 24K gold in extremely thin layers, which lends an almost transparent character to the precious metal. Her starting point is the material — the metal, the pearl, the stone — and based on its quality she creates jewellery with an individual sense of form. The circle is a central source of inspiration, a shape that has fascinated people for centuries. Edman has also sought inspiration in Ancient Egyptian jewellery, which she has given a contemporary expression both in terms of form and composition, as well as choice of material.

Rune Rydelius (b. 1946)
The construction is often an important visual element of Rune Rydelius' sculptures. Materials such as iron wire, paper and clay that has been allowed to dry become spontaneous expression. Form and painting often work together in the sculptures in a way that indicates perfect pitch. All this gives the same effect of the here and now, which otherwise can only be found in the raw presence of pencilled notes.
With the simplest means, the sculptures express a movement or gesture. Sometimes they are characteristic portraits, or it could be groups of figures that take hold of rooms and the spaces in between. Always captivating musically.
An iron wire in the room restricts a group of sculptures, just as a sheet of paper restricts a drawing.
Even when the small spontaneous sculptures are enlarged they retain their unique character.
The seemingly fragile appears to be extremely durable.

Gunnar Smoliansky (b. 1933)
Gunnar Smoliansky is awarded the Prince Eugene Medal for a consistent and understated artistry that stretches over a long period of time, from the beginning of the 1950s up until the modern day. No-one has depicted the obscure as he has, and with the help of the camera highlighted the overlooked beyond the moment, into timelessness.
Gunnar Smoliansky began his photographic career with images taken on his way to and from work as a customs official in Stadsgården. And he has continued in this vein, portraying his immediate surroundings, people on the street and the traces they leave behind. Everyday and unassuming, while at the same time as full of lyrical meaning as a haiku poem.
The black and white photographs are small in size and display a complete tonal accuracy in all the shades of greyscale. The format is often square; he copies them himself and allows the pictures to rest before displaying them. There is no urgency, which is the very reason why the images linger and etch themselves into the consciousness of the viewer. Nothing appears to happen on the surface, but the photographer evokes a mysterious, almost magical impression in the simple motif.

Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir (b. 1969)
Textile artist Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir's main material is hair. Her fascination for the material emerged when she saw a piece of antique jewellery made from human hair, a tradition that is also found in Sweden among the hair ladies of Dalarna. Based around the plait, Arnardóttir creates sculptural works from both human and synthetic hair. Her expression is a unique, contemporary innovation. The sphere of activity is interdisciplinary; Arnardóttir moves within the world of art, design and the commercial advertising world, with strong artistic integrity regardless of whether she is creating three-dimensional sculptures, performances, printed images or physical hairstyles on human heads.
Jan Gehl (b. 1936)
Danish architect and town planner Jan Gehl is awarded the Prince Eugene Medal for his many years of tireless work to improve the city environment for everyone who moves within it under their own steam.
Today Gehl is Professor of Urban Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, but he also works actively as a consultant in urban design quality through the firm Gehl Architects. Gehl did not invent the pedestrian precinct, but he has been its most passionate advocate.
Gehl's first book, "Life Between Buildings" in 1971 had a huge impact and the book became a bible both at schools of architecture and town planning offices all over the world.  It was published at a time when the disadvantages of a town designed for cars instead of people were just beginning to dawn on many, and it proposed a cure: diversity and variation. The book also emphasised that it is not the actual buildings, but the spaces and the activities between them, the opportunities for spontaneous meetings that are the important factors in whether or not people flourish in an urban environment.  
Over the past 40 years, cities in almost every continent have engaged the services of Gehl and have with his help been able to recapture parts of their city centre for pedestrians and cyclists.
Without actually designing individual buildings, Gehl has influenced contemporary urban design in a more profound way than most house architects, and on humanistic grounds stood up for the man on the street, whether walking or cycling, and his basic requirements of his physical environment. Indirectly, he has thus also made a huge contribution to the environment in a broader sense.