Surprise Laboratory International is a project in which we aim to create an international arena for collaboration and skills-sharing within the field of wood media material-based art and sculptural woodwork. It is simultaneously our objective to create an opportunity for unique wood-based sculptural work as an art form and the artists in this field to connect to both new and repeat audiences. The project stretches over several years.

Annually, a group of professional artists and crafts persons from the Nordic and Baltic countries will be invited to take part in a workshop event with an adjoining seminar and exhibition. Focus will be on unique works of material-based art in wood media and craft methodology. The project relates to a Nordic tradition of ceremonial wood sculpture, but with focus on contemporary expression and the materials inherent qualities.

The project will be based in the southern part of the island of Öland and is organized by Surprise Laboratory International ek. för.

JoINT 2008 was an international cultural collaboration which took place in Mariestad, Sweden. Per Brandstedt initiated and organized the project. The JoINT project exceeded the expectations of everyone involved and we concluded that an excellent opportunity to further develop our endeavour existed. The experience gained pushed us to found the non-profit organisation Surprise Laboratory International. We commenced planning a future program which would stretch over several years. We are now at a point of realization and the southern part of Öland is a location which suits our purposes very well.

Öland annually offers a rich and diverse number of cultural events and large numbers of artists are drawn to the island. This will facilitate the creation of a new center for wood sculpture. Potential partners already exist locally; JAGS Museum in the village of Segerstad with its unique collection of wood sculptures, Capellagården School of Crafts with an internationally renowned wood crafts program, Öland´s Folkhögskola with a number of arts focused programs. Mörbylånga township, Kalmar County and Kalmar Art Museum have all expressed ambitions in promoting the arts. The Nordic countries as well as the other countries surrounding the Baltic Sea have a rich history of wood art and rich cultural treasures in sculptural wooden objects dating back to medieval times. The rediscovery and salvation of the 1700th century warship Kronan is a world unique archaeological treasure.

Material-based art as a fenomena is currently widely acclaimed. Wood media has profound links to our history as well as being a material for the future. Surprise Laboratory International aims at contributing to the art-forms future development, as well as promoting utilization of the material wood in public spaces. By establishing a wood sculpture center, we call for public opinion in favour of this remarkable and sustainable natural resource. Also, in this respect Öland is outstanding considering the regions plentiful supply of locally grown suitable timbers.

Our specific plans include organizing the first new workshop in 2022. The artists that we aim to include in the first Öland workshop will be invited during the autumn of 2021. Prior to the workshop the artists will have the opportunity to research and pursue ideas and designs for the project and a local contact network for the artists will be in place. The theme will be monumental, ceremonial wood sculpture for public spaces.

Our vision is the evolution of an art/craft laboratory, in which the artists will research the material connecting to practical/technical, aesthetic, and sustainability issues and qualities. In conjunction to the workshops, seminars will be held on the theme of wood media art in public spaces and exhibitions of the outcome from the project will be organized.