FISKEBÄCKSKIL, 50km north of Marstrand, is one of the most attractive villages along the entire length of the Bohuslän coast. Peppered with imposing old wooden houses perched high up on rocky rises, many with fancily carved porches and intricate glazed verandas, it also boasts several attractions that are well worth exploring.
Arriving by road from the south, you’ll find the remarkably stylish art café, Saltarvet just on the right where the road enters the village at Saltängen. Its galleries display constantly changing exhibitions of contemporary Swedish artists.
Carl Wilhelmson’s house
Fiskebäckskil’s most famous son is the artist Carl Wilhelmson (1866–1928), who was born near the marina. He made his name nationally with his powerful, evocative portraits and landscapes, which beautifully reflect west-coast Swedish life at the end of the nineteenth century. In 1912, he had a strikingly elegant cottage built close to his birthplace, with splendid views over the waters towards Lysekil, its double-height windows letting the famous Nordic light flood in. Reproductions of his work line the walls (the originals are mostly in Gothenburg’s Konstmuseum or the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm), the subjects often being the scenery just outside these windows. The most poignant of the prints, On The Hill, shows a scene from Wilhelmson’s childhood. Aged 9, he had stood unnoticed behind a group of old men sitting on a rock in Fiskebäckskil, while they discussed a hurricane which had wrecked twenty ships the day before, killing his father, a sea captain. When they became aware of the boy’s presence, they asked him not to say anything, and he kept the secret from his mother, who only learnt of her husband’s death from the post-boat captain a month later.
Not far from Carl Wilhelmson’s house, close to the marina, the church dates from 1772 and has an opulent yet almost domestic feel about its interior. There are chandeliers, gold-plated sconces, etched-glass mirrors with hand-carved wood frames and fresh flowers at the ends of each pew. The luxuriance of the decor is thanks to donations from Bohuslän’s richest eighteenth-century landowner, Margaretha Huitfeldt, who also paid for the wrought-iron and sheet-metal spire, crowned with a gold-plated weathercock. The wooden, barrel-vaulted ceiling is worth a glance, too: it’s covered in eighteenth-century murals, the oddest aspect of which is the scattering of angels’ heads. Outside, in the graveyard close to the main door, is Wilhelmson’s rather plain grave, his likeness carved into the granite tombstone. More unusual is the grave in the far corner, where an English officer and a German soldier, who died in the Great North Sea Battle of 1916, were buried together.