Ann Mari Sjögren, artist and painter. Fairy paintings by Ann Mari Sjögren Ann Mari Sjögren at work in her studio.

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Xmas 2007

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Ann Mari Sjögren Articles from the Swedish Press

Ann Mari Article
Twenty well known fairy illustrators from all over the world participate in the english anthology “The Art of Faery”.
Oldest in the company is Ann Mari Sjögren, 85, from Helsingborg.

Ann Mari ArticleIn the land of the Fairy Queen.
For sixty years Ann Mari Sjögren has illustrated children’s books. Many of them are about fairies, and inspiration to the first one came from a dragonfly.

Headline: The pictures of the Fairy Queen are all over the world.
Ann Mari Sjögren’s drawings are in a new book about fairy illustrators.
Text: Christina Kallum
Photo: Lisbeth Westerlund

It is like ringing the door bell at the Fairy Queen’s herself.
During sixty years Ann Mari Sjögren, 85, has illustrated about twenty children’s books, many of them about fairies.
And in a recently published english anthology, “The Art of Faery” with twenty well known illustrators from all over the world, she is the grand old lady.
– One of the artists in the book had my first book as a child, she sat in the knee of her grandmother, who read it for her, says Ann Mari Sjögren with a good laugh.
Ann Mari has filled the desk in her study with clippings, illustrations and fairy books of all kinds.

Her first book, “En dag i Älvriket” came 1945. Three years later it was translated into English as ”A Day in Fairy Land”. It was published in ten different languages, but Ann Mari Sjögren’s own copy got lost and she never saw or heard much of it later on.
But it was precisely “A Day in Fairy Land” that the Englishman David Riché had seen. Now he promptly wanted this illustrator to be included in his anthology presenting the twenty best fairy illustrators of the world.
But where was the artist Ana Mae Seagren to be found?

He searched for eighteen months all over the world.
After trying his luck on the internet, at museums and libraries he finally got a Swede “on the hook” who sent an e-mail, revealing that the real name of Ana Mae Seagren is Ann Mari Sjögren, living in Helsingborg.
– Here one has lived a quiet life for all these years, says Ann Mari Sjögren, who hardly had seen the book since it was published, but who now has experienced quite a lot of excitement around her own person.
First the Englishmen came to visit. Then the press.
– Some time ago there was also a call in the middle of the night from Hongkong, a man who said he wanted to publish my book in three languages in millions of copies, she says and doesn’t know precisely what will become of it, since she has left the matter to her sister’s grandchildren.
Ann Mari Sjögren lives in a cosy attic apartment with a view over the Öresund strait. Her home is filled with art of all kinds, many of the paintings are of her own hand.

She was born in Nyhamnsläge in 1918, was educated as a commercial artist at Reklamkonstskolan in Stockholm, and later worked at Kärnan publishers in Helsingborg, at a time when they started to publish children’s books.
– At that time all books for children looked the same. A small farm, animals, idyll. Then I came with a proposition about these fairies.
– It was almost a shock, and – to be honest – also such a success, she says.
Up at lake Västersjön in northwestern Skåne [Scania] she and her husband Stig had bought a cabin. Nature and the envioronment there inspired her, and could be recognized in her fantasy landscapes.
One day Ann Mari Sjögren sat drawing on a stone, as a dragonfly passed by with its light blue, striped body.
– That was the inspiration for the illustrations in “En dag i Älvriket”, she says.
Therefore, her fairies became small girls with blue striped shirts with light small wings on their backs.
Normally fairies are depicted as fragile beings dresses in white, dancing at dawn in the dew-sprinkled grass.
Among fairy illustrations, drawings and fairy tale books on the desk ther is an old clip with an advertisment from an american paper, showing the once so famous actress Joan Crawford, reading from “A Day in Fairy Land” for her four adopted children.
The family idyll is intence in that picture. But the daughter Christina later revealed the truth in her book “Mommie dearest”, where she described the mother as a really evil whitch.

Ann Mari ArticleBut there were not only fairies in the life of Ann Mari Sjögren.
– It was a lonely work, drawing at home, she says, and therefore she worked as a art teacher from time to time.
– Then came a time of more mischief in school, so I turned to teaching adults who wanted to learn something, for example croquis or batik.
Her old books like “Lill, foundling of the animals” and “The Princess and the Pirate” she has had to borrow from her nephews, as her own copies have disappeared.
– They are very well read, and that is fun, Ann Mari Sjögren says amused, holding some well worn copies.
She is still in the Land of Fairies.

In her next book, the third one she makes together with author Lena Lindh, the fairies are more modern. They are in school age, study history and have sports lika any other small girls.
– If I keep on for a while, I guess there will also be “The pensioned fairies” she says with a laugh.

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