Petra Börner is a Swedish artist and illustrator, currently based in London. Her vividly colorful work is wed to a distinct and powerful line, bringing a mythic quality to her studies of people and nature. Her client list is an impressive assemblage of fashion & publishing names & we're thrilled she took the time to offer up this remarkable reading list. In it, Petra shares her favorites & influences, with images of her books inventively made into eye-bending scanner bed art for this feature.
Petra says of her selections:
"How a book or publication ends up in my collection is as important to me as the book it self.
This journey becomes integrated with the memory of the book as well as with its visuals and content.
I’ve been collecting books since I was a young girl and the ones I’ve kept I refer to daily and I seem to always find what I am looking for there.
It all started with a passion for going to flee-markets in the early 80’s.
Most of my books are 2nd hand, catalogues, street finds or have been given to me.
I find that picking any favourites is impossible as they all come to good use at different times and bring different kind of pleasure.
I’ve just picked a random selection and here they are in no particular order."
Artists’ Prints in Colour
Introduction by Hans Platte
Barrie and Rockliff, 1961
I picked up this amazing book in a small vintage store in South Africa.
I was on the road with my mum, travelling some distance, when we decided to break for the day in a small seaside town.
I love everything about this collection of ‘contemporary’ artists (1961), the look, smell, the design and feel of the work that transports me to a time of quality and craftsman’s skills. The large format visuals are so generously placed, each page could be framed.
The Pre- Raphaelites
The Tate Gallery
Penguin Books, 1984
I picked up this book from a charity shop in Kensington Hight Street, London.
It always frustrates me as the visuals are very small, but it holds some of my favourite references of all time.
I often return to these paintings, in particular this by William Holman Hunt and those by Dante Gabriel Rosetti.
I am often attracted to paintings where the hands are featuring closely to the face.
With Noel Dyrenforth
This book belonged to my mother and it captures my childhood. In the summers we’d spend much time in our garden making arts and crafts. Dying fabrics, print making from natural ingredients and sewing these into various creations.
There weren’t many techniques my mother and her sisters couldn’t master between them. This book travelled with me from a young age, like many other books from home that I couldn’t part with.
Flowers in Art
From East and West
Paul Hulton and Lawrence Smith
British Museum Publications Ltd.
This find from a charity store is a delicious collection of floral motifs compiled by the British Museum. Inspiring in variety of techniques and motifs.
Editions Xavier Barral
This book was a gift from a dear friend, who is no longer with us.
I’ve always been fascinated (obsessed perhaps) by Rodin’s work, in particular his white marble sculptures. I try to make time to visit the Rodin Museum whenever I go to Paris. It has a strong, sensual and mysterious feel.
I feel as if Emmanuel Berry captured a dream of mine - the sculptures have escaped their vitrines and are free to roam the many rooms.
I’m drawn to these dreamy, soft curves and the chalky dry of intertwining limbs.
These are quiet, sensual photographs, as if we’re interrupting a private moment.
The Yuan Evolution
Catalogue of an exhibition presented by
The Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong, 1984
I found this book in a skip while walking in my area.
I’d just started to work with clay and ceramics at this time and I was thinking about ceramics all the time.
I found this catalogue of an exhibition of Jingdezhen ceramic wares from Hong Kong, along with a bunch of other books on clay.
To me this was a sure sign that I was meant to focus on my ceramic practice. I remember being set on creating urns in various shapes, inspired by these depicted Chrysanthemum boxes.
Niki De Saint Phalle
An Autobiography Remembering 1930 - 1949
Ever since I can remember Niki De Saint Phalle has been my inspiration and hero to me.
I must have first encountered her work when I saw her sculptures at Louisiana Museum in Denmark.
As a child, her curved shapes and bright colours spoke directly to me and I felt that they were personal to me.
Then as I grew up I understood more about being a woman and later becoming a mother, now her art feels ever more poignant to me.
When I was a teenager I had the chance to visit her sculpture garden (ll Giardino dei Tarocchi) near Grosseto (Italy) and the memory of the heat,
the sculptures amongst the vegetation left a vivid impression on me.
The experience planted the seed of love for Italy and for my dream of some day having a garden of my own and the complete artistic freedom it would bring.
My dear friend Tove gave this book to me, many years ago and it must be the one I’ve referred most frequently to.
I love photography with great contrast as I find this very helpful to draw from.
The clarity of shape is easily translated into specific lines on the page.
This inspiring publication, captioned by Maria Barnas poem ‘You and I’, was a leaving gift from StudioThomson, the two brothers’ who I shared a studio with for many years.
Her work moves me, both as individual pieces but also curated into a storyline.
Her methods inspire and the book is beautiful throughout.
A Concise History
Thames and Hudson
Flat Art Gallery
My friend Cesa, who I met whilst working in the ceramic studio, gave this book to me. She has a fantastic library of her own in her gallery, The Flat Art Gallery.
Knowing my passion for shape and sculpture she kindly donated this one to me when she realised she had duplicates.
It’s indeed a handy overview of sculpture, here featuring Mani and Greco.
The Pillow Book
An Illustrated Celebration of Eastern Erotica
Guild Publishing London
Found in a box of junk when I’d just moved into my flat in London and about to start to study fashion at Central St Martins.
The compositions are dynamic across the spreads and the eye often has to work hard to figure out how the bodies are positioned.
The sexual interaction is central, yet embellished with such grandeur and lavish decoration.