meets the love of his life at the college. But she is already "occupied".
At a party, he swings into action. Drinks rival under table, then
he and Ulrica dance all night to the Wildcat Blues.
It is said that opposite poles attract, and this would certainly
seem to apply in the case of Bertil and Ulrica.
Ulrica Hydman was also a student of ceramics at the College. She
was born the same year as Bertil and grew up in a countrified area,
near Stockholm, in a warm, artistic family. Unlike Bertil whose
family background was more austere and filled with conflict. She
didn't like him at all at first.
he was stuck up, she told a journalist in 1998.
may have been due to the fact that when she first set eyes on him,
in 1957, Bertil was attired in regimental Cavalry uniform, that
is to say, riding breeches and high leather boots, minus the whip.
(He was doing military service at the time.)
they fell in love, and were inseparable throughout their college
However the path of true love never runs smooth, they say. And a
milder version of the theme took place in 1959. At an outing to
the archipelago, another guy made a play for Ulrica, and as the
evening wore on he regaled her with tales of his diving exploits.
The next morning, a daredevil, but hungover Bertil responded to
the challenge by donning a heavy diving suit, and sinking beneath
the icy waters of Sandhamn. After this show of bravado, Ulrica gave
spending a summer training period together on the island of Bornholm,
1960 (with Arne and Tulla Ranslet, Bertil left on the SS Gripsholm,
bound for the US. As the months went by he began to miss Ulrica
terribly. He sent her love letters, and five months later she joined
him in America. They travel to Mexico and to Guatemala, financing
the trips with what he earns from his pottery and her extra job
as a seamstress.
return to Sweden in 1963, they were definitely an item. In the small
village of Åfors, however, the reactions to the newcomers
were not entirely positive. The villagers considered Bertil and
Ulrica to be 'living in sin'. Evidence of this took place at the
home of the Åfors family. As Ulrica (once) explained to journalist
-We were going to stay the night with them. They put me in the maid's
room, and Bertil in the guest room. Mrs Greta Åfors didn't
think we should be in the same room together, let alone in the same
They make a snap decision to get married. A civil wedding, at which
their two witnesses (who had slipped out to the cloakroom to arrange
their hairstyles) missed the climax of the ceremony - the exchange
The honeymoon was spent on the island of Öland, in a tent on
the southern side. They had already bought a house - the oldest,
most ramshackle cottage in the village - from the managing director
of Åfors, for the ludicrous price of 10 thousand crowns. The
cottage was eventully restored and renovated. Their first son, Hampus,
was born in 1965. Two years later Mattias arrived and in 1969 Markus
was born. Tragedy struck when Mattias, aged one and a half, drowned
in the pond.
now over forty years ago since Bertil and Ulrica first met. They
are still living in the same house, and in the same environment
that has shaped their lives - Åfors. Additional properties
include a summer cottage in Stockholm archipelago, and a Stockholm
apartment. Whenever they want to get away for a bit they take out
their sailing boat. Their sons are now grown up and have children
of their own. Markus lives in the forest outside Afors and runs
his own company. Elder brother, Hampus, is a lawyer and lives in
Bertil fall for Ulrica? A question he was asked some years ago.
she's very attractive, very charming and very exciting. She's wonderfully
straightforward, and puts up a resistance. We have always been each
other's fiercest critic. We live, you might say, in a constant state
of creative tension. We fire, and mutually stimulate each other's
them well, having worked at the Afors glass-factory (as a glass
painter) for nine years. Temperamentally, they are indeed at opposite
ends of the scale: Bertil is more of an introvert, pensive and articulate.
While with Ulrica you have to be prepared for quick retorts and
the occasional verbal knock-out. But they both have strong personalities,
they're humorous and warm-hearted. They care about people, and take
responsibility for their roles at the factory, moreover they're
both brilliant artists.
at Sandhamn, 1959.
at the danish island Bornholm, 1960.
Photo taken in 1963.
home in Bromsastugan. Photo: Ola Terje.
very special sailingboat...
a removeable rowing boat!