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Mamma Andersson's birthplace and childhood home of Luleå is in North Sweden near the Polar Circle. Born Karin Andersson, she drew and painted from an early age without any family members being interested in art. She studied at the Royal University College of Fine Arts and her nickname Mamma was added at that time to differentiate herself from another student with the same name. She was a mother during her time at art school and has two sons with artist Jockum Nordstrum. She started by painting landscapes because that was what she saw daily as she pushed her kids around in the pram. She worked as a guard at Moderna Museet in Stockholm and was influenced by work of Dick Bengtsson. To learn to paint she found she had to engross herself in others work and cites John E Franzen, Enno Hallek and her "greatest teacher" Dick Bengtsson.