In the winter of our lives, we must build a sanctuary. This is well known by the Danes, who each year endure the whittling of daylight to less than seven hours a day. To cope, they retreat indoors to a ‘hygge’ way of living. Stemming from the 16th century Norwegian term ‘hugga’ meaning comfort or consolation, hygge has no direct English translation - but it is innately familiar. Hygge is a crackling fire on a stormy night, hot tea on a frosty morning and cocooning in the company of art.
Have a cold? Try “tea and hygge”, say Danish doctors.
As Australia necessarily hibernates, we ought to look to hygge. Wholesome, nourishing and meaningful, the hygge mindset sees the place we eat, sleep and perhaps now work as entwined with wellbeing. To make one’s home hygge, is to populate it with items that incite pleasure, hope and comfort, even on the darkest days.
Hygge pulls away from the mass produced and impersonal. It celebrates items which tell a story, make you feel at ease and revive a space. Because we must stay at home, hygge calls for art to bring the outdoors in. Lesbia Thorpe’s ‘Terraced Houses Royal Park’ does just this, miraculously rendering Melbourne’s stubborn winter cosy.
Warm tones are also hygge. As are works which celebrate the intimate, simple and gentle. To counter the chill of social distancing, enter Louise Tomlinson's dusky seascape.
In his work, Charles Blackman repeatedly invokes the dignity of ordinary life. A compulsive creator, he takes inspiration as much from epic themes as the stories he told his Barbara as we drifted to sleep.
In these times doing your part means staying at home. As one Sydney Doctor put it, “social isolation is not an act of fear - it's an act of love.” By curling up at home - surrounded by art - we are protecting our friends, families and neighbours.
All adversity promises a silver lining. One now is the impetus to build a sanctuary. In the absence of overseas trips, perhaps we can travel inward and cultivate that art collection we have always dreamed of.
“The hard-earned lesson of frigid Scandinavian winters is that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothes—that all you really need to get through difficult times is shelter and sustenance, kith and kin.”
Find your hygge by exploring our full collection here.