Documentary “Moominland Tales: The Life of Tove Jansson”

Screenshot of Tove Jansson swimming in Finland from the BBC documentary Moominland Tales: The Life of Tove Jansson

Screenshot of Tove Jansson swimming from the BBC documentary “Moominland Tales: The Life of Tove Jansson”, around 1:20 mark. View the trailer here.

Until I watched the BBC documentary “Moominland Tales: The Life of Tove Jansson”, I had never really known about the artist and author Tove Jansson nor the context for her work. I’m so glad to have come across the film. She was an impressive and talented woman that lived through some devastating times. The documentary is enhanced by quite a bit of original footage, images, and quotes from her journals and other writings. It also includes interviews of her friends and family. My only criticism would be that the tilt-shift effect on some of the shots of contemporary Helsinki and the Finnish countryside felt a little heavy-handed.

The scene above was likely filmed by Tove Jansson’s partner and great love Tuulikki Pietilä, a Finnish graphic artist. Her nickname was Tooti. For nearly 30 summers, Tove and Tooti lived and worked in a cottage that they built together on a little remote island called Klovharu. It sounds like they were quite the independent adventurers, and their time on the island seemed idyllic. This moment was rather heart-wrenching.

Last summer something unforgivable happened: I started to fear the sea. The giant waves no longer signified adventure but fear. Fear and worry, for the boat and all the other boats that were sailing around in bad weather. We knew it was time to give the cottage away.

Once they had left, they never wanted to come back. They didn’t even want to talk about it. It was the end, and that was it.

A side note: Sophia Jansson’s comment reminded me of a moment in a recent episode of NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me when Peter Sagal asked Norman Lear if he had any tips “for those of us who would like to arrive at 93 as spry and as successful and happy as you are”.

What occurred to me first is two simple words, maybe as simple as any two words in the English language – over and next. We don’t pay enough attention to them. When something is over, it is over, and we are on to next.

I’m looking forward to discovering Tove Jansson’s work. I’ll probably start with the original two Moomins books, then move to The Summer Book and A Winter Book.


Visited “Nostalgia & Progress: Illustration after the Second World War”

Had the pleasure of checking out Nostalgia & Progress: Illustration after the Second World War last weekend at Leeds Uni. There was quite a range of work on display, and together it made for a very enjoyable experience.

Somewhat embarrassingly, I’m not very knowledgeable about influential illustrators. That said, I could tell there were a few big names in the exhibition. I erred on the side of caution and didn’t take any photos, regretting that now. Two pieces by Charles Keeping, There had never been such a battle and an illustration from The Highwayman, were particularly arresting, and I can’t find them anywhere online. At any rate, the image here is an example of his work.

There were some more contemporary illustrators as well, two of which I’m lucky to know. William Goldsmith and Louise Lockhart had some lovely work on display.

The exhibition is on at The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery in Leeds University Library until 28 February 2015, so perhaps I’ll head back to try and grab a few photos (after asking, of course of course!).