They came out of their separate burrows. The fox came first, then later, much later actually, came the badger. The fox, who was very sure of who she was, moved quickly among the dry leaves. The badger, who had only recently found herself, moved much slower and heavier with her nose to the ground. Their meeting was the beginning of a long adventure.

This is the story of two women artists – Lilian Togelius and Rosemarie Holmström – but it is also a story about the skillful fox and the heavy-footed badger.
“When I was a child, everyone told me I looked like a fox, and I always drew foxes,” says Togelius. “I think I identified with the fox early on.”
Holmström, on the other hand, hesitated for years. She had no idea what animal she was.
“Then I was looking through some old photos from the 1950’s, and I began to see myself as a badger,” she says.
Togelius and Holmström met in high school in the city of Kalmar and hit it off right away. Almost as soon as they met, they began engaging in a game of “animalistic behavior”.
Explains Togelius:
“We’d say things like ‘Don’t turn around just now, but there’s a hysterical peacock standing right behind you.”
“Yes,” Holmström chimes in, “or ‘Shrimp! Shrimp!’ We’d both know exactly what that meant.”
Though they went their separate ways after school, the two women didn’t lose touch, and their animal games continued. Togelius attended art school in Malmö and also studied art at Academia Belle Arti in Rome, while Holmström became a painter, poet, and playwright. They have both had solo shows, but they’ve done many projects together – “Out of the Burrows”, the exhibition currently on view at Svenska Kyrkan, is their 7th joint project. Earlier exhibitions include “Play it again, Freud” – an installation featuring texts and visual arts pertaining to the works of Sigmund Freud, an aquarium installation (“where one thing goes on on top of the surface and something entirely different goes on underneath”), and another project about a doll’s house.
“But a Norén sort of doll’s house, a more realistic doll’s house, not the kind you usually see, where everything is perfect,” says Holmström.
But let’s go back to the “Burrows” and the fox and the badger. We see them disguised as Pope Innocent X (the original was painted by Velázquez in 1650), we see them dancing can-can in Paris (in a homage to Toulouse-Lautrec), we meet them sharing the stillness of Richard Bergh’s famous painting “Nordic Summer Evening” (from 1889-1900). “Out of the Burrows” is Togelius and Holmström’s biographies intertwined; it features oil and acrylic paintings (by Togelius) and collages and paintings on print (by Holmström) and it was first exhibited under the title “Leva som djur” at Galleri Svea in Stockholm a year ago, to great success.
“We work very well together,” Togelius explains. “We talk, we sketch, we paint. We exchange mind maps, I guess.”
“We pollinate each other,” jokes Holmström.
The subconscious, dreams and fears are constants in Togelius art, as is psychoanalysis. Her favorite artist is Francis Bacon. Holmström, on the other hand, calls Elsa Beskow, Seamus Heaney, and John Donne her sources of inspiration. The two women are clearly each other’s polar opposites.
“She is ‘yes’, whereas I am ‘no’,” says Holmström.
“I’m the one who says ‘Oh, let’s just go’,” says Togelius.
In between other jobs, husbands and children, they make time to get together and work.
“We work in fits and starts,” Holmström concludes. “But it works out well, we always enjoy being together.”
The fun and whimsical “Out of the Burrows” can be seen throughout March.
For more information:
Svenska Kyrkan New York
Lilian Togelius
Rosemarie Holmström