Gocken Jobs was a ceramic artist and textile artist. She is best known for her flower designs and will always be associated with the so-called ‘Jobstrycken’ (Jobs’ prints) with their textile design of richly blooming flowers which she and her sister Lisbet Jobs designed for Jobs Handtryck.
Gocken Jobs was born in Falun in 1914. She was the youngest child of music director Anders Jobs and his wife Elisabet Wisén-Jobs. She was given the pet-name of Gocken (a mutation of ‘dockan’ – the doll) at an early age, and this later became the name she was known by. Out of the seven children in the family all except two turned their hands toward artistic ventures. The children’s inspiration largely came from their mother who used to embroider silken and woollen flowers directly onto cloth. Gocken’s parents divorced when she was 10 years old, leading her mother to settle in Stockholm with the four youngest children.
Gocken Jobs trained at the Högre konstindustriella (advanced industrial art) school in Stockholm (later known as Tekniska skolan), as did her sister, Lisbet Jobs, who was five years her senior. While Gocken was a student she began to help Lisbet at her ceramics workshop and continued doing so after gaining her qualification as a ceramic artist in 1935.
Gocken Jobs worked alongside her sister for more than 25 years. Although they were independent artists their output is sometimes so similar – both in shape and design – that it can be difficult for the untrained eye to tell them apart. They are best known for their gorgeously true-to-life illustrated flowers, and specialised in decorated tiles as well as bowls, vases, jugs, and figurines all covered in painted flowers. Both sisters worked with the same clay from Uppsala-Ekeby, but sometimes used different glazing. Lisbet Jobs tended to work with cream-coloured transparent glazing whilst Gocken Jobs tended to use a greyish-white underglaze in order to allow the white details of her work to become more prominent. Sometimes the signatures were enough to identify which artist lay behind the work. Lisbet Jobs often signed her pieces simply with ‘Jobs’. Before 1935 this was done in capital letters followed by a fullstop, and later in cursive – sometimes in mirror-writing as she was left-handed. Gocken Jobs tended to sign off her pieces using ‘G. Jobs’ or even writing her name out in full.
Gocken Jobs – both on her own and in collaboration with her sister – created ceramic tile decor for private individuals and for public spaces. Her largest work was a 600-tile wall decoration for the HSB building at Flemminggatan 41 in Stockholm with coloured flowers on a white background. This was jointly produced by Lisbet and Gocken Jobs in 1940.
From the 1940s onwards Gocken and Lisbet Jobs also began to produce textile designs. The sisters transferred their blooming flowers onto textiles due to the limited availability of glazing during the Second World War. A 1945 display at the När skönheten kom till byn exhibition at Nordiska Kompaniet (NK) in Stockholm became their major breakthrough as textile artists. NK’s textile chamber commisioned designs for textiles to be sold by the meter and they were printed by Erik Ljungberg in Floda. Meanwhile, the sisters’ brother, Peer Jobs, was responsible for printing aprons, headscarves, and textile hangings. Their mother Elisabet Wisén-Jobs’ embroidery was also included in the exhibition, as well as woven works by another sister, Gitt Jobs-Hidle. Traditional musicians, led by the composer Lille Bror Söderlundh (Lisbet Jobs’ husband since 1939), performed at the opening of the exhibition. The invitation itself displayed Gocken Jobs’ pattern which adorns the cover of Söderlundh’s 1939 collection of ballads När skönheten kom till byn. Gocken Jobs also designed the cover for his 1944 ballad collection Prästkrage säg … och andra visor, and for Sorgmantel och andra visor published in 1946.
It was Astrid Sampe’s idea to mount this display of the artistic Jobs family. She had been the head of NK’s textile chamber since 1937 and was very interested in printed textiles. She had suggested that the sisters should transfer their flower patterns from ceramics onto textiles, thus giving their artistry a new direction. This became a permanent direction as their usual flower patterns could spread magnificently across textiles in a new manner.
These textiles were massively launched at the aforementioned 1945 NK exhibition När skönheten kom till byn at which no less than 18 ‘Jobstryck’ were exhibited for the first time. The patterns included Gocken Jobs’ Tuvorna which was printed in brown with the pattern traced in white, a familiar colour combination from ceramic art. Trollslända, also from 1945, is reminiscent of a plant poster where some rootlets remain in a manner also used in ceramics. Gocken Jobs’ other works at the NK exhibition were Midsommar, Fru Lusta, Preciosa, and Mosaik, which were all pattern designs which influenced her artistry: largescale images of plants repeated at up to 1 meter spans, figures and small-patterned cloths.
It seems that Gocken Jobs was particularly suited to pattern designing for textiles. She created a whole range of largescale plant designs in which the pattern can be endlessly rolled up with seamless breaks between spans. In addition to Trollslända this was also true for Ros och lilja, from 1946, Stugrabatt, from 1951, Granatäpplen, from 1961, Sommar, from 1964, and Rabarber, from 1968. Granatäpplen was inspired by a visit to Italy, but the rest all contain completely Swedish flora taken from the surrounding areas; either from indoor plants or outdoor bedded plants, or even from the surrounding fields. The final compositions emerged from partial design sketches on scraps of paper which would be shuffled until the desired effect was achieved. Carefully studied flowers and berries were incorporated in small-design cloths such as Krusbär, Hallon, Blåbär, Smultronblom (from the 1940s), Skogsbär and Smultron (from the 1950s), Förgätmigej and Styvmorsviol (from the 1960s) and Klöveräng (from the 1980s). The realistically depicted surroundings often included beautiful or silly items which had stuck in her mind since childhood, such as Preciosa, from 1945, Smycken, from 1946, and Gratulation from 1951. Swedish flora also appear in smallscale on a range of headscarves, runners, table cloths, and were given sweet-smelling names such as Prima vera, Bellona, Karibacka, Fäbodkrans, Gökärt and Dikesflora.
Jobs Handtryck printed the Jobs sisters’ designs using handcrafted methods, with the exception of the textile designs which were solely printed for NK. Although the term Jobstryck subsequently came to mean all prints by Jobs Handtryck regardless of who created the design, initially Jobstryck only applied to those created by Lisbet or Gocken Jobs.
Jobs Handtryck, which was established by Peer Jobs in 1944, was the main producer of textile designs by the Jobs sisters. In the beginning Peer Jobs cut linoleum and then printed on cloth according to his sisters’ models, but later he adopted a film printing method. In 1943 Lisbet and her family moved to Västanvik where the workshop in which she and her sister worked included a firing oven. Gocken Jobs and her mother Elisabet Wisén-Jobs had a house built nearby where Gocken Jobs lived until her death.
Gocken Jobs never stopped being a ceramic artist, albeit this side of her artistry was more sporadically entertained in her later years. Her latest known ceramic pieces of any note dated from 1968 when she held a solo exhibition of ceramics and textiles at Konsthantverkarna in Stockholm.
Gocken Jobs created a total of around 45 designs to be used on metred textiles. She also created numerous designs for pictures, headscarves, table cloths, handkerchiefs, tapestries, and table mats. All the surviving pieces of Gocken Jobs’ artistic output (sketches, textiles, ceramics, and archives) have been stored within the National museum’s archives since 2009.
Gocken Jobs died in Västanvik in 1995.