Sacred Places: An interview

Titled “Sacred Places,” the project was done with photographer Philip Messman, who’s been a collaborator of Tekla since its early days.

‘This project has not been anything spontaneous. It all comes from an ongoing conversation for almost a year and, having worked together before, it came down very naturally’ reflects Messmann, who was involved from the ideation to the printing of the volume.

The book unfolds the photographer’s idea of capturing the dream of a sacred place. It was shot at Anholt, a small island between Sweden and Denmark and it’s inhabited only by 150 people who live there permanently.

The nature is very unique, surrounded by reefs and shoals and most of the island consists of Scandinavia’s biggest desert. A perfect place to shoot Sacred Places, places where you go when you want to escape, to feel content and it truly reflects the narrative of what Tekla is.


©2022 Philip Messmann


Philip Messmann, a photographer of Sacred Places about the process and concept behind the photobook.

How did the idea of making a photo book start?

These days, especially in digital media and photography, everything moves so fast, that we felt the importance of doing something relevant for a longer period. The appreciation for the long process of the making. I was involved in everything from planning, direction to finally printing the book (and the obstacles that it sometimes brings).

Sacred Places project was not anything spontaneous. For me and Charlie, it has been part of an ongoing conversation for nearly a year and since we’ve done many smaller projects together, it came down very naturally.


What are some of your inspirations that influenced the photography in Sacred Places?

I’ve always been inspired by the sea and its surrounding elements. The ever-changing weather by the ocean occurs to me as organic backdrops in constant movement. Nature sets and decides the mood for the image at the given moment, which I appreciate every time.

Being close to the ocean never fails to inspire me. Our location for the book is one of the most isolated islands in Denmark, therefore, it felt natural for this type of project.Where did you stay during the shooting days? How was the place?
We stayed at Anholt Fyrgård, a beautiful house 8 km to the nearest neighbour. There was no electricity, running water nor reception in the house which meant everyone was present all the time. This created energy on the team that felt very special, which I believe is normally very hard to achieve. Everyone felt connected as well as with nature and I will never forget that.


©2022 Philip Messmann


Alf Arén, part of the family who runs Anholt Fyrgård about the history of the house and life on the island.

Can you tell me a little bit about its history? Is it family-owned?

The house is located right next to the old lighthouse, at the east tip of the Island, with 8 km to the nearest neighbourhood. The house was originally owned by the lighthouse master and his family, who built it back in 1826. Later in 1968, my grandparents bought the house and it has been a second home to my family ever since.

What is your favourite memory from the project?

Just the experience of being on the Island is very special. First, you need to drive alongside the beach or through the biggest desert in Denmark, as there are no roads. You get this feeling of total isolation, find yourself surrounded by nothing more than turquoise water and dunes. You have the time to be with yourself, without the influence of the outside world.

How is the day to day life on the island?

It depends on the time of the year. There is no electricity, running water nor reception, so you need to make sure that the fire is burning, especially during cold winter months. Throughout the summer season, we love to go swimming or fishing. Being here - somewhere so beautifully remote - brings a sense of calm. It is a place to turn down the noise of modern life and go inward.