Iconic Nordic artist Trove Jansson’s unique folkloric world



The strange and endearing Moomin characters conceived of by Finnish author and illustrator Tove Jansson were informed as much by ancient Nordic folk tales as they were the stunning natural beauty of the islands on the archipelago of Finland, where she lived and worked. One can quite easily imagine the wild vastness of green, edged by sparkling blue waters, being the real-life home to the Water Nymph or the Snork Maiden that occupy Jansson’s fictional Moomin Valley.

This summer, to celebrate 100 years since Jansson’s birth, London’s ICA presents a retrospective of the artist’s magical work. The exhibition will feature original unseen photographs and material relating to her life and work, illustrated books and early first editions. In addition, copies of her illustrations for the London Evening News will also be displayed. Also on display will be intimate portraits of Jansson’s life on her private island the archipelago of Finland, every bit as magical as the fantastical world of the Moomin valley she dreamt up.

 Tove Jansson in her Studio, 1990s

The candid snaps were shot over a period of 60 years by her dear friend, renowned Finnish photographer C-G Hagström and her brother, photographer, Per Olov. There are also rare family photographs that capture the great natural beauty of the island on which she spent the summer months with her female companion Tuulikki Pietilä. The collection provides an unprecedented insight into Jansson’s enchanting studio in Helskini, where she worked. Snapshots include charming photographs of Jansson surrounded by large-scale models of her beloved Moomins. Bewitching audiences with her fanciful brand of creativity, Jansson's appeal spans generations and will most certainly extend years into the future.


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Images: Lead illustration image by Tove Jansson courtesy of Oy Moomin Characters Ltd. All photographs taken by Per Olov Jansson, courtesy of the ICA. 





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