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Lissy Boesen

You can find Lissy Boesen's work several places, both domestic and abroad, on squares and pedestrian streets, in schoolyards, residential areas and parks. But who is the woman behind the well known and popular play sculptures that have spread to large parts of the world?

Cat in garden

Ever since childhood, Lissy Boesen has been fascinated with shapes and design, often based on nature. Beautiful stones, exciting plants and not least the world of animals meant a lot to her growing up as a farmer's daughter in Lolland, and at school she found self-confidence through her ability for illustrations.

After a stay in Paris, where Lissy Boesen studied at the Academie La Grand Chaumiere, with private lessons from, among others Richard Mortensen, she was admitted to the Academy of Fine Arts' School of Architecture in Copenhagen in 1972, from which she graduated in 1978.

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During her career, Lissy Boesen has also worked at DR TV's puppet workshop and as a scenographer in Helsinki, before she started developing her play sculptures. With the large animal sculptures, she found a project where she could combine artistic design with a meaningful, human endeavour. In other words, an interaction between art, people and animals.


The play sculptures


The idea for Lissy Boesen's play sculptures began to take shape when she was given the task of developing a playground environment together with a group of school children. The children's play was a great inspiration, she says:

"Children love to climb and touch and use their imagination. When they come near large stones or sculptures, they almost automatically start climbing and playing. And then I thought it might be fun to make some big things they could climb on.”

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In her Copenhagen based workshop, Lissy Boesen created the design and started developing the method that was later the standard for recreating the large concrete animals. The first cat sculpture was a success, and over time it was joined by cats in other poses as well as a larger amount of other animals: a dog, a hen, a horse and a teddy bear, just to name a few.


However, the cat is still Lissy's favorite character. The cat motif has become a red thread that repeats itself in other parts of her art. And it is the cat she uses as a trademark for her company, Lissy Boesen Design.

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The cat


The large concrete sculptures are highly attributed to the joy and appreciation of one particular animal: the cat, which with its graceful movements, calm nature and wayward personality appeals to both her imagination and emotions.


"I have always had cats, both as a child and as an adult, and they have always inspired me," she says. "The cat is a beautiful and fascinating creature with a serene nature - it's almost as if it knows how to arrange its body so that it looks its absolute best."

With such an obvious 'model', it is hardly a coincidence that the very first of her play sculptures was a large, seated cat.

Laying cat

The process


Lissy Boesen's workshop is an Aladdin's cave of figures, unica art and designs, prototypes and clay sketches of known and unknown animals. Some are preliminary stages or experiments that never make it into production. Others may become the basis for a unique vase, an outdoor decoration or a new sculpture in the playground.

In the design process, Lissy Boesen finds great joy in immersion. To find the right shape for a new sculpture, she spends a lot of time studying pictures, other animal figures and live animals. Afterwards, she works at a slow, lingering pace with a smaller clay figure that will become the model for an actual full-size prototype. Every detail is cherished and the figure is sanded and polished endlessly to achieve the smooth, rounded simplicity that characterizes Lissy Boesen’s style.

When she eventually is satisfied with the clay figure, Lissy Boesen produces her full-size prototype. The large figure passes on to her collaborators, who manufacture a mold for recreating the sculptures.

A special, fully pigmented concrete is used for casting the sculptures, which does not erode and which gives a smooth and 'soft' surface that is nice to touch. It becomes almost impossible to keep your fingers off the "stroking stone”.

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Other products 


Among the play sculptures there is also a series of seating modules that can be put together as desired, with or without animal figures.

In addition to the large productions, Lissy Boesen also creates unique designs, such as vases, dishes, bowls and more. All inspired by nature with soft organic shapes.

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The shapes are often inspired by the waves of the water and beautiful vegetation - after a lifetime as a designer, Lissy Boesen still gets her ideas from nature, not least in the area around her summer workshop on Møn.


And since it is a Lissy Boesen design, you will also be able to find the hint of a cat in many of these works...

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