Friday, November 20, 2009

Island Muse Faro

I was at Christies Auction house in New York on Thursday helping to set up for a fundraiser I am involved in each year, the Tibet House Benefit Auction event. I had to pass many times that day through the front entrance of Christies, where there are large screens displaying various upcoming auction events and Christies Luxury Properties for sale. I was stopped dead in my tracks more then once by luminous images of landscapes featuring rustic boulders, pebbled shores and windmills. It all looked vaguely familiar.

Where was this? The island of Faro and the property listed was Ingmar Bergman's estate that had sold just two weeks previously. The Christies catalog describes the property as such:

The estate’s four dwellings are set amid a rustic backdrop of dunes, boulders, and tumbling waters....

...Hammars is the main house, secluded along a road that winds through pine forests and quiet meadows. Completed in 1967, it remains an integral part of the island, along with the pebbled shores and luminous sky. Framing gorgeous sea vistas, the residence was designed by architect Kjell Abramson in close collaboration with Bergman himself. The writing lodge is an idyllic two-room timber structure with a magnificent ocean view; it can be seen in the final sequence of the iconic television drama “Scenes from a Marriage.” The serene terrain here is defined by fossils, pine trees, and an undisturbed horizon with ever-changing light.

Situated on an open meadow, Ängen is a comfortable winter retreat house, built in a classic Gotland style by expert craftsmen and offering three bedrooms, a living room with an impressive fireplace, and an inner courtyard that glows with lilacs in summer. Finally, just a short walk from the water is Dämba, a beautifully restored 1854 farmhouse. In an old whitewashed barn situated nearby is Bergman’s private cinema, where he watched films every day." (photos of estate from Christies Properties)

Sven Nykvist (left) and Ingmar Bergman on Faro. Photo: Associated Press

Bergman was arguably one of the most influential filmmakers of the 20th century producing films such as The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Cries and Whispers and Fanny & Alexander. Bergman fell in love with Faro when he came to the island with legendary cinematographer Sven Nykvist in 1960 to scout for the film Through a Glass Darkly. He says in the film documentary Bergman Island that he felt instantly at at peace on the island as if he had come home. Although Bergman had many marriages (six wives, nine children) the island of Faro seems to me to have been his biggest muse. It is here that he wrote and filmed most of his work and chose to live full time, very much in tune with the island's unique light and rugged beauty. I tried to find pictures of the houses but was unable to come up with much. The rooms are very sparse and to get a good look one should go to the W Magazine video of Bergman's home at: .

From left, Ingmar Bergman, Sven Nykvist, Erland Josephson and Liv Ullman filming Scenes from a Marriage. Photo from The Everett Collection.

To live on an island, simply. To live surrounded by books, film projects and with a barn devoted to screening films twice a day. To be so at one with your home that you think nothing of writing notes on the surfaces of your walls and bedside tables. To live with your home as a personal diary and laboratory. This is how Ingmar Bergamn lived - what freedom!

The property is being prepared at the moment for a further creative future! It was bought by the Norwegian inventor, Hans Gude Gudeson and will be turned into an artists' retreat. Linn Ullman, Bergman's daugher with Liv Ullman says of this development, " Faro was a working place and will continue to be. There will be new books written, new films will be develpoed and new projects will be made."

I am so inspired that I may just apply for a grant! Where do you like to live and create?
Do remote islands hold any appeal to you? We'd love to know!


  1. Love your blog and this is a wonderful post-Bergman's Faro sounds like heaven to me. Fortunately, I can find similar creative moments right at home, somehow closing the blinds can give me just enough distance from the outside world. Idyllic spot for me in future is a country setting, Right now have returned to a slower pace of life in my small hometown- a start. la

  2. Everything about it sounds wonderful. I love the picture of the stone wall, as I am planning to build one at Garvinweasel.

    I feel like my home is my laboratory, and I am like a mad scientist, always dreaming up a new project, calculating how much stone for a wall or how much wood to build a bookcase, preparing to plant a thousand pine trees, making my own paint formulas... it can get overwhelming at times, creating a little private world, but I'm grateful for this life.

    I loved reading this post about Mr. Bergman and happy to know about the plans for his island. Thank you for sharing this post.


  3. Oh, this is fantastic.
    I love your blog, and have added you to my blog roll of favorites.

    I love Sweden, and have written about this remote region of islands in the Baltic.

    The Swedes are very ambivalent about Bergman--and if his name is every mentioned, they are very non-committal or even a bit cynical or sarcastic, in a low-key Swedish way, of course.I was always puzzled, as Bergman is held in such high esteem elsewhere, and one might imagine that the Swedes might be proud of his talent and accomplishment. Apparently they do not seem to be. Complicated, I am sure.
    The land and the houses are magnificent. I wonder who purchased. you know?

  4. Little A: We love your blog too! Hoping to spend more time delving into the blog world and your super posts over Thanksgiving! A return to a quieter pace can be the most creative of periods.Where in the country are you thinking of? We'd love company up here in Litchfield County!

    Jxvi: What a magnificent and imaginative nest. Would love to have the guts like you to plant banks of trees, move large stones about and generally create things for the ages. Super.

    DDS: Love your blog too, Diane and may we add you to our links along w Little Aubrey over thanksgiving? (this blog is sadly neglected and will be tended to in the coming week!) Hans Gude Gudeman is the Norwgegian gentleman responsible for saving the estate in Faro from becoming a B & B. I know what you mean about Swedes and Bergman. They are loathe to really embrace him. I think they felt he was too self involved and a bit of a head case - perpetuating national stereotypes of depression, sex, religious torment. But his issues were not just Swedish. I don't think his youthful infatuation with Hitler helped matters either. All things Swedes would rather forget, yes?

    Thanks all for checking in! Edie at Swedish Interiors

  5. There you are ladies! I wonder what happend to you.

    Yes, isn't it amazing! It is part of Gotland and it is such an incredible part of the world. Although the crossing over the sound from Gotland takes a mere five minutes, the landscape here is even starker, the sand finer and the local dialect even more like a strange song than on Gotland proper.

    I spent all my childhood summers on Gotland, and can't wait to bring my family there! Thank you for sharing!

    And Edie, congratulations to the wonderful article of your home in Country Living. So beautiful! I had to show my husband.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. offers the best COMMISSION-FREE apartments that you can rent in Dubai!