Interview
Clay Stories

FreddeLanka

Meet the Swedish ceramicist converting experiences and emotions into art

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Ceramic artist and illustrator Fredrik Andersson is translating vulnerability and vitality into creative vision with his unmistakeable, handcrafted vessels. Since graduating from Camberwell College of Arts, the Swedish native has been using his craft as a means of archiving his experiences, immersed in the LGBTQ+ scenes of both Stockholm and his adopted city, London. As his characterful clay work lands exclusively in-store at Liberty London, we visited Fred at his South East London home to dive deeper into the FreddeLanka psyche.

What inspired your move to London?I wish I could say that it was because I so longed to study here, but that came second as a plus. It was actually a breakup that spurred me on to come here long term. My ex had his opinions about travelling and seeing the world, opinions that had bothered me for a long time, so when it ended I decided that I needed to leave, just to prove a point.

How long have you lived here?I moved here in September four years ago to start my studies at Camberwell College of Arts. Best decision I have made in my life to be honest.

FreddeLanka
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And how long have you lived in this flat?Since October last year, I was living in a bigger house before. But when I graduated from school and lost my beloved studio and all of the great facilities that the college offered I decided early on that I needed to compromise in order to keep my creative momentum up. So I moved to a smaller and cheaper room, just for the sake of affording a studio.

Are you influenced by your environment?Heavily, when it comes to working spaces especially. I can get really stressed out when things are not organised in a certain way - I need to know where my tools and materials are at all times. This makes it really hard for me to work in someone else's studio space. But when it comes to my living space I can be quite messy as I let my organising take a more fluid shape, so my working and private spaces are quite different. Some people tell me it is my Gemini duality that is haunting me - but I think that it is just the difference of trying to focus on a task or having a space where I can feel at home and relax.

Have you always been a creator?When I was a child my mother was a stay at home kindergarten teacher. Despite the hassle of always having a house full of children the big plus was the fact that we had loads and loads of art supplies in the house. So we were always drawing and painting (some stains can still be seen in the ceiling in my old house). But I think it took me a long long time to start seeing myself as one. Only in recent years did I find strength in my own ideas and creations, a late bloomer of sorts. So the answer is probably yes, I just didn't realise it.

How did you hone your techniques?Most of my youth was spent on trying to draw and make things like other people that I admired, like Mike Mignola’s Hellboy comics or the anime Naruto. So I have constantly pushed myself into trying out things that I have seen, and I guess in many ways the artist that I am today is some form of mix of all of these influences. But my biggest breakthrough came sometime in the second year of Camberwell. For years I had tried to copy fine ink drawings from my favourite artists, but I actually suffer from a rather shaky hand, so I never got it completely right. For some reason I picked up a brush and started to paint with ink, I painted fast without hesitation and all of a sudden things started falling into place. After that discovery I finally started to find my own way of doing things.

FreddeLanka
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Your pieces are unique, how do you conjure ideas?Various ways, but most of them start with some attempt at processing an event in my personal life. I think for me all of my pieces are some form of art therapy, at least when I make my personal work.

Can you tell us about your creative process?When I make ceramics it is a mix of looking at sketches or simply just sitting down and letting things happen. It all depends on what mood I am in on that particular day. I feel being able to experiment and compromise on the spot is equally important to proper planning. I think both ways of working help keep my mind on edge as I can be structured but open for new possibilities at the same time.

When it comes to my illustration practice it is the same, I might arrive to my studio with a sketch I have done the day before or I can simply sit down with a weird feeling in my gut. I put on a song that I feel matches the mood and let it happen (mostly cheesy pop songs about love and breakups). Pop music is one of my biggest sources of inspiration.

Where did your obsession with drawing naked people come from?A wise queen once said ”We’re all born naked and the rest is drag”. I feel that today people are too self-aware and insecure about their bodies, me included. But as I have come to terms with my own physical form I feel others should too. Being naked is fun, naked bodies are amazing since we all come in different shapes and sizes. I want people to not take nudity too seriously and learn to enjoy their naked selves. Or maybe I am just some form of sexual deviant, who knows…

And hairy men?Besides it being incredibly fun to draw all of those tiny specks of hair? When I hit puberty I started growing hair all over my body - and lots of it. I was often teased about the way I looked and it left very deep scars, but now my weakness has become my pride and I find strength in my hairy self. And of course, vanity has a part to play as well. I am not perfect.

Of the pieces you have at Liberty London, do you have a favourite?Hmm, that’s a hard one. But if I have to pick I would say my large head vase. It is a design that I made in college and it symbolises the start of my career in ceramics, so it will always have a special place amongst the other pots I've made so far.

What stories do your pieces tell?They remind you that when you look back at some things that made you sad and sometimes angry, things might not have been as bad as you first thought. It might have been more colourful and maybe even a bit funny. I think it is important to do this in life, as it helps you come to terms with yourself and the actions of others.

FreddeLanka
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Why is it important for you to promote queer and LGBTQ issues through your work? I am a part of that community, so I will always do my best to try to inform and educate people about the issues that we have to face everyday. It is my duty as an artist as I have a broader reach than most.

Aside from ceramics, do you have any other creative outlets?Yes, many. So drawing and illustration is probably the biggest outlet that I have, but I also write. Writing is something I discovered at the end of my studies, and It has really helped me in finding structure. I released a short book about my siblings last year and now I am working on a slightly longer project based on my sexual discoveries and mishaps from when I was a child up until now. As most of my work is autobiographical my research is my writing - it helps solidify my ideas for drawing and ceramics.

What do you hope people feel when they look at your work?At first glance I want them to be happy, maybe even get a giggle in there. But when they really look at my pieces and ask themselves what they mean I hope my pieces will help them reflect upon themselves.

Where do you like to spend your time whilst in London?I think the place I feel the happiest is at a club with enough arm space for my bad attempts at voguing with my friends around me, maybe with the possibility of ABBA being played, who knows? One can only dream.

Do you have a Liberty London memory? Yes, the first time I walked into the store where I was a bit overcome by the building itself, it’s unlike any shop I have ever seen - incredibly beautiful.

FreddeLanka
Shop Fredrik’s Edit
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