Leaf shapes as a recurring point of departure

The sinuous leaf motif is Linnea’s signature and has now become a wallpaper. Our visit to Linnea Andersson’s studio!

Linnea Andersson, known by many for her sinuous blue leaf motifs, is one of the artists to have designed two wallpaper patterns for Boråstapeter this spring: My Secret Garden and My Secret Garden Grand. In her Gothenburg studio, she talks about experimentation, the tension in lines and the importance of doing what you enjoy.

The Majorna neighbourhood of Gothenburg is attractively situated between the Slottskogen park and the river-waters of Göta älv. Once a classic working class neighbourhood, the district has been transformed into a hip hub of convivial restaurants and cultural hotspots.

“I like this end of Majorna precisely because it is so ugly”, says Linnea Andersson, inviting us into her studio in premises scheduled for demolition. But the sight inside belies whatever preconceptions we might have from the exterior. Inside, the light floods in through large windows. Shared by several designers and artists, they each have their own space. The interior is awesome, not in tiptop condition, but with plenty of space,” she says, giving us a tour.

We soon get that spaciousness is a good thing when we catch sight of all the large canvases featuring the familiar leaf shapes. These take up almost a whole wall in her own studio space. Linnea doesn’t talk off the cuff, but considers a while before giving a reply that exudes both calm and creativity all in one go. This spurs a curiosity about her, her way of thinking, how the patterns are created, how she feels and reasons. She explains that her works are like experiments, and demonstrate her ideas by means of oil pastels.

“I start with the line”, she says, a practised hand gliding across her sketchpad.

“Then I go with the flow. That’s the whole point for me. I think it’s the same feeling as running; you’re just doing it. If I overthink it, you can tell; it gets stilted”.

Silent, she sketches the leaf, making the most of the space on the sketchpad”. She explains that working is almost a meditative process.

“Which I think is what happens if you run a marathon. Your feet do the work, but you’re not really conscious of them. When painting, I typically find inspiration in the music I’m listening to. When I was working on these wallpaper patterns I was constantly listening to Depeche Mode’s A Broken Frame, a low-key synthpop album from 1982. It has a cool but strictly structured sound, which I recurs in my patterns”. 

Linnea tells us that it took some years before she settled into and embraced her own personal creative idiom.

“I lived in Stockholm for a while, where I did a graphic design internship. I began to feel I was pretty much done with that. But also lost somehow, as in ‘what am I going to be when I’m grown up?’”, she says, adding:

“I’m the kid sister and always worked hard, but still with a sense of lagging a step behind” I’ve never relaxed somehow.  There was a lot of making-do”.

After the internship, Linnea moved back to Gothenburg and took some time out.

“I started an art course where we got to free-style but with coaching. That was when I started experimenting, doing what I enjoyed and turning out sketches. I experimented to see if I could find anything between the lines. I soon realised that the tension between the lines is what matters to me. And that the negative whitespace is as important as the positive painted space, if not more so.

This was the train of thought that eventually resulted in the leaf motif and my confidence in that artistic idiom”. With the My Secret Garden pattern, Linnea explains that she is inviting the beholder into a more confidential part of her ‘garden’; one more concealed and close. A place of rest and recovery in the showy shade. And with My Secret Garden Grand, we are still in that garden, but now with a stronger drive to claim a place upwardly and outwardly.

“The heart of my art has always been about venturing to claim my place on a wall, in a context. Above all, I’ve sought to keep the form playful and upbeat, yet with this serpentine insinuation of an agenda”.

Linnea has painted her celebrated leaf motifs since 2017. The art of painting becomes intriguing experiments; she rarely does sketches first, letting the shapes emerge organically. She explains it as being as a form of trialling.

“For me, it’s important to keep up the experimentation. The thrill of doing the painting matters much more to me than whether the end result is good. When the penny dropped, I understood what I was going for. My art is guided by intuition, which is an important definition.”

“I reckon that not doing what we enjoy makes us bitter”.

About Linnea Andersson:

Profession: Artist

Age: 32

Education: Master of Fine Arts in Design

Challenge: To continue painting my experiments but with more oil on canvas. Working in layers is quite new to me. One thing leads to another, so we’ll have to see what happens.

Text: Jill Windahl

Photos: Lina Östling

SWEDISH DESIGNERS

Linnea’s wallpapers

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