MARI SIMMULSON (1911-2000)
Mari Simmulson was born to Estonian parents in St Petersburg, Russia. At the start of the Russian revolution in 1917, Mari’s family fled back to Estonia. During the 1930s, she studied at the State Art School in Tallinn and later further developed her skills at the nearby Arabia porcelain factory in Helsinki.
Before the WWII, Mari moved to Munich to study sculpture. When the war broke out, she fled to Sweden on a fishing boat. She was forced to leave behind her family and relatives, with whom, sadly she would never be reunited.
In 1945, Mari began working at Gustavsberg Porcelain Factory, where she was worked alongside the factory’s legendary leader, Wilhelm Kåge (who was preceded by Stig Lindberg). Mari’s creative output ranged from unique sculptures to small animal figurines.
Mari left Gustavsberg in 1949, taking a pivotable position at Sweden's Upsala-Ekeby pottery house. Together with Hjördis Oldfors and Ingrid Atterberg, she completed a trifecta of talented, influential female designers who established a creative and recognizable aesthetic for UE. Mari would remain at the UE until 1972, designing a variety of serving pieces, decorative items, and figurines.
Influenced by the air paintings of Marc Chagall, Mari created an extensive body of work with images of large eyed women and birds. Her more bold and geometrically incised patterned pieces offered a clear contrast to these decorative pieces often created as wall plaques.
She is remembered as a prolific artist who held fast to her artistic integrity. At the same time, she understood that the objects she created should be successful in the marketplace as well as beautiful. Interest in Mari’s artwork is at an all-time high today, and her two daughters give frequent lectures on her life and artistry.