Barbro Bäckström was an artist and a sculptor, particularly known for her reliefs, constructed of fine wire mesh, which depicted female nudes.
Barbro Bäckström grew up on Vindö in the Stockholm archipelago. Her parents encouraged her interest in imagery and shapes which she revealed from an early age. Between 1960 and 1964 she trained as what was then known as a drawing instructor at Konstfackskolan (University College of Arts, Crafts and Design) in Stockholm. Upon completion of her studies she and her husband, the artist Holger Bäckström, moved to Lund. She held her first solo exhibition there in 1965 at the student gallery called Galleri Atheneum.
Barbro Bäckström soon took on commissions to create art for public spaces. Her bronze sculptures, which are reminiscent of large pieces of cloth on which human bodies have left their life-sized imprints, are often found in outdoor spaces. The reliefs she created in iron using the same themes are more often displayed indoors – at schools and hospitals. She repeatedly returned to human bodies as a theme, usually female bodies. The figures tend to be lacking lower legs, feet, heads, and faces. In an interview Barbro Bäckström said: “I want to create a shape that is alive, that feels close at hand, and which is accessible to all of us”, and then continued, “it is not necessary to describe the entire body. One bit at a time will do.”
Human bodies also recurred as a theme in Barbro Bäckström’s work as a graphic technician, as well as in her multiples – simply produced, small-scale works of art intended to be sold at low prices. During the 1970s the art world was influenced by politically radical discussions and Barbro Bäckström was one of many artists who was interested in creating art which reached beyond the wealthy patrons of art galleries. She created reliefs in moulded white plastic which appear to be an imprint of a single breast or buttock – these were works in simple materials at reasonable prices.
Barbro Bäckström’s untimely death in 1990 due to cancer instigated a series of retrospective solo exhibitions of her work. Following the death of her husband, Holger Bäckström, in 1997 about 300 of her artworks were donated to Malmö Art Museum along with a financial donation. The interest generated off the latter has been used to fund a stipend awarded to young artists since 1999.
Barbro Bäckström is buried in her family grave at the Norra cemetery in Lund.