Torbjörn Skobe, The Chronicler
Torbjörn Skobe started to work at Bildhuggarverkstad when the business was almost already over. At the time Åke and Tor were still keeping themselves busy at the workshop because they needed to somehow keep the old studio running in their lives. When he first started to write his book Inte Bara en Verkstad (Not only a workshop) it consisted of a series of articles of local significance which were published in local newspaper Tranas Posten when he started get reactions from local people who encouraged him to think about the possibility of publishing a book. Yet he was far too modest and thought no one would want to buy it or read it. And finally after being persuaded he only published one thousand copies thinking what would he possibly do with all the boxes and boxes of unsold books at his home. Today the book is a collector’s item, very rare, much sought after and hard to find.
Skobe first went to the studio to develop his skills as a craftsman yet while he was spending his time there he realized there was so much history in that old place and his main resource was standing next to him. Coming second after his father passed away, Åke took over the family job of working as a master wood sculptor and just as his father he had multiple talents. Skobe tried different methods to capture the history of the workshop but none of them worked until Åke willingly started discussing it himself.
The book has several chapters including the early years, artists and painters who passed by the workshop, musicians, the infamous John Bauer copies, town legends yet while listening and writing these stories Skobe kept himself in the background, modestly, as most true observing historians. Just like the painter Sven Karlsson who was part of the last generation who inhaled the atmosphere of the workshop, Skobe believed that PJ Carlsson’s workshop was not just a place where some furniture was made and where old tools hung, he believed there was more to it. For Sven Karlsson it was the people who made the place. Whereas Torbjörn on a more philosophical level thought about the time and space. “When you came here you kind of entered another rhythm of time. No e-mails, no messages, no telephone calls, no news. So I feel that we miss that in todays stressful modern life we don’t have the kind if concentration that they had. It is a bit fragmented. Even if it was regular pattern it was quite a contrived space. There was a deep wisdom in the place and there was a compassionate feeling towards other people. Friendship, loyalty and the acceptance of the mundane and the everyday.”
Today many people in Tranås still remember well the times Torbjörn Skobe’s articles were published in the newspaper. They waited eagerly each week for the next episode to be printed, and they told Torbjörn Skobe their own stories. The old newspaper clippings have been collected in binder by Anna Hultman and can be found at the workshop today. Stepping inside the workshop one always finds oneself in awe, the sense of a frozen moment in time, the faded colors and the smell of a previous time… It is all there yet there are unnamed voluntary efforts to keep the memory of the place, like collecting the newspaper clippings in a binder for future visitors.
Torbjörn Skobe found it very difficult to publish his texts in a book format, because first of all he never made a book before. He did not know anything about editing and producing a book, he did not know how to prepare layouts or what the costs would be. He improvised as he went along and had a helping hand when he needed one. “I’ll take the risk. I might lose money on it. But I’ll do it!” he said.
We owe much of what we know about Bildhuggarverkstad today to Torbjörn Skobe. Until today the book is the only intellectual property printed about the studio and Skobe is the only person who experienced and wrote about the local history of Bildhuggarverkstad first hand.
This final chapter, Chapter Six comments on the importance of such micro histories and importance of such humble historians who work so modestly and diligently to try and capture places which otherwise would have been forgotten. A moment in time, a fading image about to disappear in a small town.