Margareta Orreblad was a gallery-owner who ran Galleri Mors Mössa for more than 40 years. She took a progressive approach towards art by focusing on newly-qualified artists, whose work comprised everything from new textile and ceramic artwork from the 1960s and 1970s to contemporary paintings and sculptures. During the 1980s her gallery also held exhibitions involving art installations, performance art, and idea-based and concept art.
Margareta Orreblad was born in Gothenburg in 1934. She set up Galleri Mors Mössa in Kungälv in 1969. The name was borrowed from one of the two towers at Bohus fort which had been razed and was known locally as ‘Mors Mössa’ (mother’s cap). The surviving tower was similarly known as ‘Fars hatt’ (father’s hat). The gallery quickly gained renown for the high artistic quality of the work it exhibited. The displays were dominated by new examples of applied art, primarily textile art and ceramics. The young textile artists and ceramists whose work was on show were based in Gothenburg as well as other parts of Sweden. At this time no artist-run associations for exhibitions and sales, such as Konsthantverkshuset and Lerverk in Gothenburg, had yet been set up. Röhsska museet was one of the few places which displayed work by those who produced applied arts in Gothenburg and western Sweden. Margareta Orreblad’s gallery thus played a very important part in these artists’ options to exhibit and sell their art.
In 1973 Margareta Orreblad moved into Gothenburg, more specifically the Änggården part of town, although she retained the gallery’s original name. Initially the gallery followed the same path as it had done in Kungälv, displaying textile art, ceramics as well as other visual art. Many artists who later became well-known first displayed their work at Margareta Orreblad’s gallery, such as the sculptor and graphic artist Franco Leidi whose work could be seen at the gallery in the early 1980s, the ceramic artist Kennet Williamson who exhibited his unique ceramics, Gunilla Skyttla and Britta Erixson who showed their textile art. Rune Hagberg, an abstract artist, Channa Bankier and Helmtrud Nyström also displayed their art at the gallery. Margareta Orreblad gave Leif Elggren, known for his idea-based graphic work using performance art, a chance to hold his first display ‘Trädgårdsmästarsviten’, which took the form of a series of graphic works in copper with black objects, in 1979 already. This reflected a change in the gallery’s objectives which now also comprised the emerging alternative visual art in which performance formed an important ingredient. Leif Elggren made a return appearance in 1982 in collaboration with the artist Carl Mikael von Hausswolff. These two artists set up a joint art project at Galleri Mors Mössa in 1992 based on the alternative kingdoms of Elgaland-Vargaland. The next year, at a performance held on the site, the gallery was officially appointed consulate-general for the two kingdoms and Margareta Orreblad was named consul.
Margareta Orreblad became increasingly involved in new and experimental artistic productions. Around 1990 she moved her gallery to Husargatan in what was then the somewhat neglected Haga part of Gothenburg. Now her focus fell almost solely on new artistic forms and means of expression, such as installations, video- and idea-based visual art. In one example, in 1996, Peter Johansson built a waffle-hut at the gallery whilst Gunilla Bandolin created an installation involving a bathtub and a large pile of potatoes which covered most of the floor. Several newly-graduated artists held their first exhibitions at Galleri Mors Mössa, lending them a certain qualitative significance given the gallery’s elevated position as a Swedish art institution. The cultural authorities in Gothenburg awarded gallery funding to non-commercial galleries and other alternative exhibition spaces for art around this time and Margareta Orreblad was one of the recipients for Galleri Mors Mössa. This allowed her to continue her activities without needing to focus on sales. Her gallery became somewhat of an art hall.
Margareta Orreblad, in addition to her bold exhibitions enterprise, was also an excellent and enthusiastic art instructor. She was happy to describe the ideas behind the works on display at her gallery to visitors who sometimes found the work a bit of a mystery. She would discuss the works with great passion and their meaning, what they could convey and how they could be appreciated. Further, she discussed the necessity of art to society and to our lives.
Margareta Orreblad carried on working throughout her life. Once Galleri Mors Mössa became established on Husargatan in Gothenburg she decided that none of her exhibitors – who hailed from throughout Sweden and sometimes from further abroad – was allowed to show their work more than once. This gave a greater number of artists the opportunity to exhibit their art. What mattered most to Margareta Orreblad was total involvement.
In 2010 Margareta Orreblad received Bildkonstnärsfonden’s so-called Dynamo prize, awarded to a firebrand in the field. This prize was awarded in recognition of her role as an innovator and champion of visual art. According to Sveriges bildkonstnärsfond (the Swedish Arts Council) the stipend is given to people who use their own steam to create new opportunities for visual and performing artists to connect with the public. This prize entailed great honour and meant a lot to Margareta Orreblad. The funds she received helped her to keep her enterprise going for another couple of years. Two years later, in 2012, she received Nöjesguiden’s Göteborgspris.
Margareta Orreblad died in 2016, aged 82, shortly after opening what became her final exhibition held at Galleri Mors Mössa. This was a display by the artist Aldo Zetterman, who had trained at Konsthögskolan Valand in Gothenburg.