To coincide with the 100th anniversary of the birth of Tove Jansson (1914 – 2001), the ICA will host an exhibition in the Fox Reading Room presenting original unseen photographs and material relating to her life and work, illustrated books and early first editions.

Tove Jansson, an accomplished Finnish author and artist, had a life every bit as fascinating as her famous creations, The Moomins. Tove Jansson: Tales From the Archipelago draws an intimate portrait of the artist’s life on her private island in the archipelago of Finland, where she regularly spent the summer months with her female companion Tuulikki Pietilä and at her artist studio in Helsinki.

Shot over a period of 60 years by her dear friend, renowned Finnish photographer C-G Hagström (b 1940) and her brother, photographer, Per Olov Jansson (b 1920), rare family photographs reveal a story of an extraordinary life.

The exhibition will be curated by Susanna Pettersson, Director, and Animaya Grant, Head of Events at the Finnish Institute in London, with the ICA.

Tove Jansson was born on 9 August 1914 in the Katjanokka district of Helsinki and grew up in an artist family. Her father Viktor Jansson was a sculptor and her mother Signe Hammarsten-Jansson was a graphic designer and illustrator. Jansson studied art in Stockholm and Helsinki, and she also sought inspiration from Paris and Italy. In the late summer of 1944, Jansson rented an attic studio in the centre of the Helsinki at Ullanlinnankatu 1. The studio became her cherished home where she lived and worked in the autumn and winter.

Summers were spent on the tiny island of Klovharu in the Gulf of Finland. Jansson loved the sea and the archipelago, which can be seen in her multifaceted art. Back in her studio in the heart of Helsinki she created her most renowned paintings and texts. It was here that Jansson finished her first book featuring Moomintroll. The studio would serve as her cherished home, a source of power and a haven for almost 60 years.

Jansson is best known as the author of the Moomin books for children. The first such book, The Moomins and the Great Flood, appeared in 1945, though it was the next two books, Comet in Moominland and Finn Family Moomintroll, published in 1946 and 1948 respectively, that brought her fame.

Institute of Contemporary Arts

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Related images

1 & 3 Island living, Tove by Per Olov Jansson,1930, Courtesy of the Finnish Institute in London
2 Tove and her Moomins at her studio in Helsinki by C-G Hagström, 1990, Courtesy of the Finnish Institute in London