Anna-Lisa Thomson for Upsala Ekeby
One of the first female designers for Swedish ceramic firm Upsala-Ekeby, Anna-Lisa Thomson produced an impressive range of domestic and decorative ceramic items still of signifigance today. Her early efforts to modernise and promote the craft of Swedish ceramics saw her achieve international recognition whilst promoting women in the workplace of a still male dominated workforce.
Finishing in 1928 at the Stockholm technical school Thomson proceeded to work for the ceramic factory St. Erik lervarufabrik in Upsala where after two years, she became the factory's artistic director. Moving to Upsala-Ekeby in 1933, the company was directed from a shift in ceramic stove tiles and brick production to the growing consumer market of tableware and decorative art.
Receiving awards at the Paris 1937 'International Exposition of Art and Technology in Modern Life' and the 1939 'New York World's Fair' Thomson and colleague Vicke Lindtsrand (who himself would become head art director for Upsala-Ekeby between 1943-1950) helped strengthen the international reputation of Swedens craft and ceramics industry. With further employment of ceramicists and designers Upsala-Ekeby eventually grew to at one point acquiring Rörstrand, Reijmyre Glassworks and Kosta Boda.
Anna-Lisa Thomson is probably most well known for her 'Paprika' vase. A series based on the combination of dark textured earthenware with contrasting white glazed leaf motif, designed in 1949 and in production through to the early 60s. Though my personal favourite is still the 'Spectra' series. An aquatic or marine life motif of embossed glazed fish, coral, sea urchins and seaweed against a matte, textured background. This colourful series etched across vases, bowls and plaques represents a tactile reminder of the early role between artists and manufacturers to bring art to the masses.