The photographic Hunting Lodges series commenced in 2009, alongside another ongoing project, Hunting Towers. As the title of the series suggests, the elements of Hunting Lodges depict various hunting lodges. The series includes photographs of different yet related facilities, spaces, surroundings and an abattoir. Many of the hunting lodges show signs of interaction, collaboration, unity: meeting rooms that smell of coffee, regional maps on tables, handwritten notes on the walls, photographs, hunting-related décor and bottles of schnapps on the tops of cupboards.
The photographs in this series of work were all taken on medium format colour slide film, and the hunting lodges I have photographed are all located in the county of Västra Götaland in the west of Sweden, where I grew up. Some hunting lodges are former cottages or sheds, others are purpose-built huts in which hunters can gather for meetings or for shelter during the hunting seasons. Some of these structures are private and owned by members of a hunting team, while others are communal, unlocked and for public use (although also used by the local hunting team).
The hunting lodge closest to where I grew up now has an abattoir in an adjacent building. Despite this, many hunters choose to bring the shot game home to skin and butcher. When I was growing up, my friend’s parents used to clean and carve wild game in their kitchen during the hunting season, and to prepare the meat and intestines for freezing. Stories of how the particular animal was tracked and eventually shot were told as hunting dogs barked madly around us in the kitchen; different cuts of meat were placed in different stainless steel bowls; the hunters drank and thanked the animal for its sacrifice and for providing the family with meat. As my own family is vegetarian, the handling of meat was otherwise unknown to me, and the practices I was witnessing were unfamiliar yet formed acutely recognisable elements of the rural culture of which I was a part.
The practice of photographing these hunting lodges – where local hunting teams meet to plan ahead for the hunting season, to socialise, to celebrate and to warm up on cold days – became part of my meetings and discussions with local hunters.