Tomas Håkki Eriksson, educated at the Trondheim Academy of Fine Art, lives in Ljungaverk, Sweden. In addition to t-shirt production and design Tomas also gives lectures as well as exhibiting, performing and dj-ing on the subject of rural identity.
”Håkki” is a project that uses business and art to question globalization and to preserve the cultural and local identity of a small town in northern Sweden. Ljungaverk is a town that has suffered some negative consequences of an increasingly globalized world and the majority of the people living there emigrated following the closing of a local factory plant in the late 1990s. ”Håkki” is an interesting piece of social design that utilizes a traditional business approach. But because of its insisting on preserving a local focus also serves as an original artistic and social reinvention of community identity.
In practise the project consists of three shop outlets in cities in Norway that sell t-shirts with motifs that attempts to express the identity of the small town. The garments are produced and designed in cooperation between the artist Håkki aka Tomas Eriksson of Ljungaverk and the projects initiators Björn Kowalski Hansen and Mats Mourier Stenslet. Reversely some of the profits of the outlets are reinvested into Ljungaverk and have so far bought ping pong tables for the local youth club, uniforms for the local girl football team, free hair cut days and recently helped finance a local t-shirt printing factory.
An interesting feature of the project is its use of identity as an instrument to create change. The initiative consistently keeps identity at the centre of the stage, and thus appears as a discussion of local identity versus globalisation. In this way the social, as well as the practical and economic, issues are elegantly addressed.
For the first time ever, the world’s population is bigger in urban areas than in rural areas. In Sweden this trend has lasted a long time and today 84 percent of the population live in urban areas. What remains is an aging population with high mortality and few newborns. A statistics that also applies for all of Europe.
Over the years, Tomas Eriksson has started to fight for rural identity also by performing, exhibiting, dj-ing and giving lectures.
I want people in small towns to understand that they don’t need to move unless they want to. Life in the country will do. Personally, I can not think of anything else. I meet all kinds of people; one moment I take a sauna, next I shoot with air rifles and the next moment I sit in the kitchen of an old man listening to his stories.