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Bjorn Wiinblad, Nymolle Calendar Plaques

Bjorn Wiinblad Calendar Plaque

This story is a charming personal interpretation, from a Danish perspective, about the Bjorn Wiinblad series of calendar plaques for Nymolle. It was orignally published on the original iteration of this site “Retro Pottery Net” in 2011. It is told by Karen from Denmark, who was of great assistance to me when I first started this blog/website way back in 2009, especially with translations, and the work of Bjorn Wiinblad which she admires and collects. 

Text Copyright: Karen Andersen, Denmark. Photographs Copyright Ray Garrod.

The month plaques are a series of twelve plaques that Bjørn Wiinblad designed sometime in the nineteen- fifties or sixties. The drawings tell us about the Danish weather and traditions in the twelve months of the year, but they are also a continuous story about a couple who fall in love and have a baby. Each plaque has a title written on the back, which will give you a hint on how the story progresses. These month plaques were sold from Danish stores for a period of about thirty years, so they are not that rare, but have continued  to be popular to this day. Each plaque has its own priceless charm and beauty which I hope you will enjoy as much as I do.

When I was a child, we had around six of the plaques hanging in our kitchen, since my mother thought that twelve plaques were too much on a single wall. I quickly discovered that they were just part of a story, so whenever I visited friends who had all the plaques, I scrutinized them with great interest, as I was trying to put the whole story together.

In my teenage years I began to wonder in which age the story takes place, but they dress so differently on the plaques that it is impossible. I guess it just takes place in Bjørn Wiinbad’s enchanted romantic world, with a different dress code and better weather than in everyday Denmark.

Today I have all the month plaques plus a few extra hanging in my own kitchen, so now I am able to share the whole story.

Bjorn Wiinblad Calendar Plaque

January – Contact

This is where the couple first meet. The young man is ice skating which is quite normal at this time of year. But the young lady is in some sort of ice sled that I have never seen in my time and age. It looks like a picture from around 1900 – but surely, a romantic scene for a first encounter. A quite morbid detail however, is all the fur with stuffed animal faces – two hats, a scarf and a muff.


Bjorn Wiinblad Calendar Plaque

February – Masquerade

Our couple have dressed up in February. Masquerades are not that common, so I guess this refers to “Fastelavn”. That is a Danish tradition where mainly the children dress up and “beat the cat off the barrel” – a medieval tradition that resembles the Mexican Piñata.


 

Bjorn Wiinblad Calendar Plaque

March – Victory

Still partying indoors I guess, since there are certainly no roses outside at this time of the year. The cupids suggest that this is where our young man wins the lady’s heart – and maybe some more….so let me just say that a baby is born nine months later.


Bjorn Wiinblad Calendar Plaque

April – Conflict

This is the only plaque where it rains – should this have been a realistic story, there ought to have been rain on at least two or three other plaques. My guess is that in April she finds out she is pregnant and he gets cold feet. The rain in April is certainly realistic, but so are their clothes. Gone are the flowers in their hair and the long dresses, they look just like an everyday young couple waiting at a bus stop. They are both holding out their hands to feel if the rain stops, so I guess there is hope for the future.


Bjorn Wiinblad Calendar Plaque

May – Harmony

Back together again – and the weather is how we always dream it should be in May. So they have gotten used to the idea of being parents it seems. Notice how Wiinblad has tried to incorporate the little holes at the top of the plaques in the motives. It works on this plaque, but on the April plaque the hole is too low be at the top of the umbrella. This annoyed me quite a bit when I was a child, but now I find it rather charming.


Bjorn Wiinblad Calendar Plaque

June – Roses

It looks like the young man is proposing with a rose – and about time too. In my mind the June and July plaques should have been switched. She looks very pregnant on this plaque, and as far as I know, most roses do not blossom until later in the summer. But who am I to tell – maybe she is just wearing a loose dress, and the roses are early because of all the sun in May. I guess by the moral standards of those days they would be in a bit of hurry to get married, so this is all as it should be.


Bjorn Wiinblad Calendar Plaque

July – Nocturne

A romantic trip in a rowing boat on a sunny day. Notice how slim she is again – quite strange. I like the composition of this plaque, where the water provides some space around the figures. On many of the other plaques the poor guy has to bend his little feet to keep inside the motive, as if there was too little space to draw on.


 

Bjorn Wiinblad Calendar Plaque

August – Bye Bye

Well, the couple is still together, so it must be bye bye to the summer. They are chasing butterflies, which is something I have never ever seen anyone do in real life. But there are certainly many bugs, flies and mosquitoes to chase at this time of year, so perhaps this is a romantic paraphrase.


 

Bjorn Wiinblad Calendar Plaque

September – Season start

She’s trying on her new necklace, and then it’s off to the opera. The Aida program and her opera glasses are on the floor – don’t forget them. Opera is not a very typical Danish entertainment, though. In fact, it would be a lot more realistic if they were going to the start of the soccer season – but not half as romantic, of course.


Bjorn Wiinblad Calendar Plaque

October – Paradise

Ah yes, as long as the weather is nice, October can certainly be paradisiac with the lovely autumn colors and the ripe apples and pears. For some reason, we are back to a quite realistic dress here.  When I was a child, I was a bit sad that my birthday was in October, because I really didn’t think the lady was dressed very nicely on this plaque.


 

Bjorn Wiinblad Calendar Plaque

November – Optimism

The very pregnant lady is knitting for the baby. Now, that I can understand. In fact, November would be quite a nice month in Denmark if you could just stay indoors and knit all the time.


 

Bjorn Wiinblad Calendar Plaque

December – Miracle

So, it all turns out well in the end. A lovely little baby is born, and everyone is happy. And since it is Christmas, there are presents and Christmas stars. And look, the hole of the plaque is too low to fit into the big star at the top – isn’t that sweet?

Text Copyright: Karen Andersen, Denmark. Photographs Copyright Ray Garrod. 

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