Walk along the quay of dreams
Have you ever walked in an area where dreams float around like fog over the mirror-gloss surface of a river? Where the tiniest detail talks for itself and everything has a history of something.
You know that everything around you could’ve led to a long conversation with just the right person, but you don’t have the courage to just ask for their time. I’ve been walking thru one of those areas for over three years with my cameras, first my X-T20, then the X-H1 and now, with my beloved X-Pro3.
I’m sure there are plenty of areas like this all over the world. The specific area I’ve been walking along is called The quay of dreams (Drömmarnas kaj in Swedish), or Gullbergs quay. You’ll find it just around the corner of Gothenburg’s central station.
And one of Swedens biggest artists has a song about it called My Gullbergs quays paradise. It’s in Swedish but widely inspired by the Brazilian rhythms as the artist Håkan Hellström went to Brazil to get inspiration and record the album this song is a part of.
Taken with the X-Pro1 and Carl Zeiss 35mm F2.8
To pay tribute to this place, I’ve been taken 200+ images from the very beginning of Gullbergsquay to the old alleys in Marieholms district east of the quay. I picked the fifteen images I love the most and made this digital exhibition. Please follow me thru the” Quay of dreams”, a 20-minute walk that speaks for a part of Gothenburg’s history.
I’ve made this collection with my X-Pro3 and my go-to lens, the Fujinon XF35mm F1.4. All photos were taken in 1:1 JPEG with my own B&W recipe with no extra post-processing or cropping, just SOOC. For me, this is the best way to capture this unique environment with its pros and cons.
(the recipe and where these photos can be bought can be found at the end of this article)
RIGHT: Here you can see the same boat in a close-up.
The quay of dreams
I’m standing in a car park with the sea breeze pushing my back. On my right, I have new office buildings. On my left, I have the river that connects so many inland watercourses with the rest of the world. Under my feet, the ground is filled with thousands of paving stones next to each other, with old train tracks built in them.
Those railroad parts are the only trace that connects the sea to the mainland in a business purpose. When my grandfather grew up here in Gothenburg, ships came to Gullbergs quay from other parts of Sweden and Northern Europe to load and/or unload goods to the trains. The quay and railroads were up and running around 1899, and the last unloading was made in mid-1970.
In these containers, the members of the quay store their tools and spare parts.
RIGHT: This is the most common way I’ve photographed this series.
I really like the way you can tilt that screen down, fast and easy.
As I leave the car park and enter the gravel road next to the quay, I can feel how the mood changes from daily routines and everyday musts to a place where limits don’t exist and dreams are the most important thing in life. I’ve been walking next to this quay so many times before and I really love to see the people working on their boats, their dreams. Entering one of the containers on the opposite side of the gravel road just to grab a tool or some lumber. This really is ”The quay of dreams”.
RIGHT: All over the quay, you can see piles of ropes like this one. I just love their texture!
As a person, I don’t have that much interest in different kinds of boats, or boat life in general. But as a creator, or photographer, I can’t get tired of the huge amount of different details, fabrics, colors, feelings, decay and overall solutions this walk has to offer. It’s like reading a well-written book that explains a history as it’s one of my own memories.
RIGHT: At the very end of the quay, you can find a lot of graffiti as those who live there arrange graffiti sessions from time to time. This one is made by an artist called Ollio, based in Gothenburg.
”Meet me where the boats leave later today, Among rusty bicycles, rubber tires and factory facades, shattered glass and drain pipes.” This is a translated version of the first lines from My Gullbergs quay paradise. The song is made by Håkan Hellström himself and the Swedish artist Timo Räisänen.
I’ve never seen any boat leaving the quay and historically the quay has been called The quay of the dead ships which refers to its history as the last stop before the ships were scrapped.
RIGHT: I guess this vise has held some heavy things over the years.
And to be honest, I’m not sure how many of these boats actually survives the Caribbean adventure that they deserve. But if one of them do, I’m the first to say congratulations!
RIGHT: On the opposite side of the road, you can find this classic factory wall. Tall and wide with windows just to collect light.
When I leave the quay behind me, I enter the industrial area of Marieholm. The area went from an island to the mainland in late 1800. Today you’ll find a different kind of industrial premises in general need of maintenance. As a photographer, I can walk here for hours and find hidden gems in all the small alleys and back yards. It’s a totally different environment compared to its neighbor ”The quay of dreams”.
One of the first things you’ll notice when entering Marieholm is the big silo that stands next to the river. The big concrete walls reaching the sky makes you feel small as an ant. Dussins of windows and pipes interrupts the flat walls, some blocked with grilles, some wide open. Today the ground entrances are welded and secured so no one can enter them.
But just a year ago I went in there to take some shots of the ruins. Spray cans, graffiti, plaster, needles all over the place. One step at the wrong place and your leg would fall right down the broken floor. The silo was built in 1934 and stored grain until at least 1977.
The rest of this old island is like an anthill of workshops and offices. Small roads lead you to car parks and alleys, one more dilapidated than the other. Some facades have sun-bleached metal in different colors, and some have old bricks or plastered walls. The next two photos show a facade in a backyard whose glory days ended a long time ago.
Just standing there and falling apart when people work on the other side of the wall.
RIGHT: A photo with details of bricks that hold together year after year and a door that almost lost all its protection.
For some years the city of Gothenburg talked about this area. It’s close to the central parts and has a lot of potential if/when it connects more to the city. This is the whole point of this documentation. My wish is to freeze some parts of Gullbergs quay and Marieholm, and the best way to do that for me is to document it thru some glass. I’m sure it will happen a lot here in the coming decades and the area will probably get a major facelift. But this is my, and many others, Gullbergs quay paradise.
This could be left behind 10 years ago, or 10 minutes. It’s hard to tell.
RIGHT: One of the most beautiful buildings in the area, and probably one of the oldest.
Can’t get enough of these bricks in thousands of shades.
These 15 frames will be available for purchase for 150€ each with worldwide free shipping. They will be available for a limited time, January 2022. After that, they won’t be up for sale ever again. No numbered editions, but all will be signed and shipped in February 2022. For more info, please visit gallery.afem.se
(image taken with the X-Pro1 and Carl Zeiss 35mm F2.8)
• ISO: 12800
• Aperture: f16
• Image size: L1:1
• Film simulation: Acros Y
• Monochromatic color XC 0/MG 0
• Grain Effect: Off
• Color Chrome effect: Strong
• Color Chrome FX Blue: Strong
• White balance: K (2500k. R:4 B:-4)
• Dynamic Range: DR100
• D Range Priority: Off
• Tone Curve: H+4, S+4
• Color: 0
• Sharpness: +3
• Noise reduction: -2
• Clarity: +4
“I’m born and raised in the cold land up north where we still have Kings and Queens, just like the old medieval days. Talking about the kings, Our King and I share the same name, Gustaf. I’m a full-time employed photographer for fun, and a full-(free)-time Fuji X photographer for passion! At work, I shoot products in all kinds of situations. With my Fuji setup, I focus on things that make me feel good, like my family, the streets of Gothenburg and the nature of Scandinavia. “