Stensjö By – an analogous village discovered analogously on Kodak Portra 160
We are occasionally in the area of Oskarshamn, especially for the departure to Gotland or visiting friends. It was also they who drew our attention to Stensjö By near Figeholm in Småland. Reason enough to drive here with our Bulli and in Stensjö By the Kodak Portra 160 in the Leica M insert and take pictures.
Barely turned off the main road from Figeholm to Oskarshamn, we slow down, slow down internally and approach a time we mourn just as much as analog photography. With our analogue Leica M we will immerse ourselves in a small Swedish world, as it did not only here in Stensjö By about 100 years ago. But this little window into the past, in the village of Stensjö By, has a future because it has remained exactly as it was. Even though Stensjö By is now a museum village, it is alive, inhabited and managed organically. And even if analogue photography is antiquated for most today, it still captivates professional photographers with its modern films such as the Kodak Portra 160 itself.
Stensjö By was once home to up to 176 people, mainly from agriculture. But that changed with the advent of industrialization at the beginning of the 19th century. People were looking for their fortune in the cities and many Swedes emigrated to the USA. Agricultural workers were no longer needed to the same extent. Småland impoverished. The inhabitants of Stensjö saw no future in their home. This was not just Stensjö By, but unlike the other villages in a similar situation, Stensjö By did not completely decay.
Stensjö By – History of a farming village
Today it is as if the time has stopped: on Stensjö By the fields are ordered, the cows and horses find their food in the pastures. The houses shine in their red Sweden colors as at best times. On both sides of the unpaved roads the pastures are lined with swedish fences, cars do not drive here. Today is ecologically, so traditionally operated agriculture. The employed farmer lives with his family in this enchanting Stensjö By.
A single family remained in Stensjö By, for seven generations, until 1960. Originally there was a hoof here, a yard. But the generational change to the children led to the development of three hooves whose owners were siblingly related. Stensjö was a real family village. Erik, born in 1891, also comes from this family. He took the surname Stensjö, Erik Stensjö. It was he who passionately campaigned for the preservation of the village.
The last two farms were abandoned in 1945 and 1951. The last yard belonged to Erik Stensjo’s brother. Immediately, Erik began his efforts to preserve the village. He was able to persuade the Royal Academy of Literature, History and Antiquities to take over and receive Stensjö By in 1963.
Today Stensö By is far more than a museum or a mere cultural monument. Here is lived and this is also true for endangered old farm animal breeds.
Stensjö By has an ecological future
Today Stensjö By is home to about 30 buildings, mostly from the 19th century. Since it never came here to land consolidation, the houses are arranged quite randomly. This appearance once again underlines the original charm of Stensjö By. All but one of the six farms from around 1870 are preserved. The red color of the building did not arrive until the 19th century. Previously, the buildings had weathered gray facades. In this phase, the draughty log cabins were previously clad with boards. The storage buildings are still in their original condition. In the kitchens, the cast-iron stoves did not arrive until the end of the 19th century. The rural population lived largely independently at the time, but could hardly afford anything beyond that.
A conscious visit to Stensjö By shows how little it takes to be happy. During our visit, he lays over the village. We listen to the frugal animals on the rocky and barren ground, which can not be disturbed by anything. Again and again we walk through this little jewel of Sweden, again and again we stay, devout. Then I take my analog M and hold this moment firmly on the Kodak Ektar, whose deductions take us home again and again in this contemplative, not always simple, but often contented world.
As relaxed as it is with the analogue Leica is to take one or the other picture, so relaxed it is here to enjoy a picnic with friends, to take a relaxed walk with the family and to visit one of the buildings from the inside. Only a few examples, to stop inside and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. At least for a moment – an unforgettable moment.