_MG_8503_photo©Martin Kleibl
_MG_8188_photo©Martin Kleibl
_MG_7952_photo©Martin Kleibl
_MG_7996_photo©Martin Kleibl

Surprise Laboratory International is an association founded with the aim of creating an arena

for both exchanging ideas about and developing contemporary sculptural woodwork.

We have started building this platform in south-eastern Öland as a site for regular workshops

and exhibitions. We also envision a permanentplace, a physical arena for exhibitions, studios

and workshops that facilitate laboratory work, exchanges of ideas, research, courses and workshops

 – a wood sculpture centre.


Our aim is to create a starting point, a ground base with a potential for satellites. Annual laboratory

sessions are one of many ways of realizing this vision. Our own form of workshop with specially

invited participants offers a means of networking and strengthening the position of wood sculpture

on the art scene.


The exhibitions that follow the workshops represent a further means. Our vision also includes summer

courses and short workshops. Over a three-year period, professional artists/craft practitioners from the

Nordic and Baltic rim countries are invited to an annual workshop with an accompanying seminar

and exhibition. The focus is on unique works of material-based art, with woodwork as the principal element.

This will bring woodwork as a unique art form – and its practitioners – to the attention of a wider audience.

Our goal is to bring more people into contact with public art works in wood.


In Sweden we have a unique wood culture. The material is used in industry, construction and traditional

handicraft (sloyd). We want to give wood sculpture a place on the contemporary art scene, showcasing

material-based art as a modern phenomenon. Wood as a medium may have its roots way back in time

but it is clearly a material for the future. Our aim: to make wood a natural feature in public spaces and

influence public opinion by showing that the material is an efficient and sustainable alternative for the future.


Surprise Laboratory International was launched as early as 2009. Its founding was preceded by an international workshop, Joint, that took place in Mariestad in southern Sweden in 2008. The term “surprise” is an allusion to the unique objects that were a feature of the English Park concept popular in the 18th century. People walking about in these “natural parks” would come across surprises of various kinds, such as a chinoiserie in the

 orm of a pagoda, a hermitage or quite simply unique wooden artefacts.