When Finnish artist, Tove Jansson, first published The Moomins and the Great Flood in 1945, she began what seemed to be a lifelong journey expressed through her minimalistic and imaginative art style. Now, over 70 years later, her art may still be celebrated at events such as the Southbank exhibit, “Adventures in Moominland” as part of their yearly Winter Festival.
Whilst the first and second iterations of the Moomin chronicles were published in Swedish, the third book was released in English in 1948, and until the 1980s was marketed as the first of the series; Finn Family Moomintroll. Immediately, readers may have been immersed in a world of mysterious creatures, quirky dialogue and unique sceneries. By using her natural Finnish tongue in translation, Jansson may have characterised the Moomins as creatures from beyond this world, as the foreword of the initial book is written by Moominmama who explains the nature of the creatures and acknowledges their ‘rotten’ English.
In 1952, Jansson made the shift to developing the story as a picture book series with the release of Moomin, Mymble and Little My, which led to the establishment of the series as picture-oriented. Then, with the release of Moominland Midwinter in 1957, Jansson began to expand on the characteristics and adversity which Moomins may face, shifting the stories towards an introspective tone.
As time continued, the seemingly unique yet minimalistic Moomins attracted attention and were brought to the market in other forms such as novelty gifts, plush toys and more, as well as instalments such as theatre productions, television shows and cartoons. After her passing in 2001, Tove Jansson’s legacy may continue with the existence of the Moominworld themepark, the ongoing production and reproduction of Moomin stories and merchandise, and exhibitions such as the current display in Southbank.
Featuring interactive fixtures as well as archive materials, “Adventures in Moominland” may be the largest Moomin-oriented exhibition in the history of the United Kingdom, aided by its home in the largest arts centre in the country, the Southbank Centre. Also featured in the exhibition may be materials which have yet to appear in the United Kingdom such as artworks, 3D models of characters and personal letters from Tove to her family and friends, extending the Moomin universe into modern and historic measures.
Aiming to run through until April 2017, the exhibition may also feature stimulating experiences for the younger attendees, such as dynamic and inspirational sceneries and immersive experiences through which they may understand the process and stimulus behind Jansson’s unique world.
One thing which guests may learn in lieu of this new exhibition may be the socio-economic inspirations behind the Moomin narrative, which Jansson’s niece describes as she considers how “Tove’s work was inspired by her life experience – both on the highly personal level of her close relationships and more generally in terms of the influence of Finnish society, politics, lifestyle and landscapes,” suggesting the ways in which the Moomin world may provide refuse from the outside world as well as a developed understanding of the ways in which society and individuals may move through adversity.
Though 2014 marked the centenary year of Tove’s birth, it may be seen through events such as this how her art and narrative continues. Moomins may represent to many a set of fond childhood memories, an instigation of curiosity or perhaps days out with the family from their youth, which children of all ages may still experience today in celebrations of her unique minimalistic style.
How may minimalistic art motivate imagination in all ages?