Exhbitions-Transfer 2016-2019

The Walloons of Sweden

Digital histories from the photographic archives

L’Atelier de l’Imagier and Bois-du-Luc are organising an international exhibition on the industrial experience of Walloons in Sweden: a history which will bring the visitor from the 17th century to the present day. Held exclusively on the former mining site from the 26th of August to the 20th November 2016, it will then cross the Baltic Sea to be co-hosted by the Norrköping Labour Museum, 200 kilometres to the south of Stockholm. This original and little-known chapter of history will be retraced by means of an exceptional archival heritage using resolutely modern, technical methods blending photographs, digital projections, videos, touch screen tablets …

What’s it about? Synopsis

Today, almost a million Swedes claim Walloon heritage. The “Valloners” or “Swedish Walloons”, have been considered the fathers of the flourishing metalworking industry for 4 centuries. Their forges and the urban areas which surround them are still known today under the name “Vallonbruk” the social structure of which would have influenced the Swedish social model. The starting point for this exhibition, is the destiny of the Walloons who left to settle in Sweden in the 17th century. These Walloons brought their know-how and their master forging techniques and would go on to contribute to the renown of the Swedish metalworking industry. Behind this adventure were Guillaume de Bèche and Louis de Geer, native of Liège, who established mines, forges and factories on Swedish soil. Against the background of a Europe ravaged by wars linked to the Reformation and Counter- Reformation, these men recruited a workforce in Wallonia capable of reproducing the entire metal manufacturing process in Sweden. Almost 5,000 Walloons and their families emigrated to the North and participated in the establishment of a veritable model of the “Walloon forge” which would in turn create a distinctive form of social structure.