Like most Finns, I’m a bit of a Muumin fanatic. It’s no wonder, since I grew up with the characters and the TV cartoons. I also passed this love of the simultaneously wise and naive characters created by Tove Jansson onto my children.
To celebrate Tove Janssons centenary, the Ateneum Art Museum in Helsinki are stageing an exhibition of her life and works. I was alerted to this 100 year celebration of the birth of the creator of the Muumin Trolls, by my Finnish friend, one who I often refer to on this blog. As usual, she has her ear to the ground about all things arty both here in the UK but especially in Finland, and told me I absolutely have to make time during my latest working whistle- stop visit of Finland to go to the Ateneum.
My friend being the good friend she is, even got me the name and phone number of the curator, so that I could take photos of the exhibition, as ‘an important blogger’! In fact I took pictures for the Finn-Guild Horisontti magazine too – and wore my first Finn-Guild press badge proudly.
The Ateneum exhibition charts Jansson’s development as artist – painter, illustrator and writer – chronologically. It also has pieces by her painter father, and many charming self-portraits of the artist herself. There are copies of political illustrations Tove Jansson made for a satirical magazine Garm during the 2nd world war, as well as many original prints of the much beloved Muumin drawings. The most charming of the displays are paper mâché (or to give them their correct description: mixed medium) pieces of the characters and the Muumin houses. These were all in glass cases, and I tried my best to get good images of them.
When I returned to the apartment where I was staying, and looked out of the window, I saw where Tove Jansson got her inspiration for some of the Muumin landscapes. The pastel coloured houses with pointy turrets and dark slate roofs of Ullanlinna, the part of Helsinki where Jansson lived, are very similar to the blue Moomin house. And the bare trees reminded me of the dark forests of the melancholy Moomin tales.
A new biography to coincide with the exhibition, ‘Tee Työtä ja Rakasta’ by Tuula Karjalainen out for the time being in Finnish and Swedish only, is available here. If you are a Finn-Guild member, there is a copy to borrow from our library. Contact mail [at] Finn-Guild [dot] org for more information about membership and Finn-Guild library services.