Adventures in Moominland

 

 

I travelled a lot as a child. Books became companions: a journey within the journey, the story starting and usually ending with the flight or train ride. Only a few were ever reopened once the last page was turned. But the Moomins, oh, I devoured again and again. I came to consider them as an extended family. Something about the wit, the adventures, the fantastic creatures, the Scandinavian landscapes in the background, the dramatic suspense sometimes, the omnipresence of nature, the heart-warming community they made all together, the captivating illustrations. Moominland was my favourite fantasy world. You can imagine how thrilling it was to learn the Southbank Centre was dedicating an exhibition to them…

An immersive experience, they said. No text – a storyteller and audio, a creative space to let your imagination run free. And indeed, you will follow the Moomin’s steps… The path will take you through a tent, a cave, a jungle, on a raft, to a deserted island, through a lighthouse, a wintery forest, a cosy house. You will walk on sand, grass, wood, snow. Each room has its own scent – smoky from the chimney fire, sweet from tropical flowers. Each also is a window into a Moomin book with original sketches hidden here, wonderful opportunity to appreciate how precise whe could be with just ink and a pen.

In parallel unrolls Tove Jansson’s story. Her father being a sculptor, her mother a graphic designer, artistic inspiration definitely was on her side. By age 15, she is already published in the liberal satire magazine Garm… WWII starts, shaking Europe through and through, fading colours all around: Tove is not in the mood for pretty pictures. She publishes The Moomins and the Great Flood in 1945, which I now see in a completely different light. It’s all about families fleeing, the struggle for survival, the threat of the atomic bomb. Dark themes indeed, although always with a happy ending. The Moomin valley, discovered after hiding in a cave, comes a wonderful symbol of hope. Welcome to Moominland…

You will learn little secrets, too. Tove Jansson has a short but passionate love affair with Vivicka at a time where homosexuality was illegal in Finland. And so were born two characters: Thingumy and Bob, always together, walking hand in hand with a mysterious suitcase. Inside is a ruby, a beautiful symbol of their relationship. Moominpappa at sea reflects her own thoughts about her father but also is a wonderful reflexion on the loss of identity. You will also get to glimpse the little, isolated island on which she built a house. Dynamite had to be used on some of the rocks, making too much of a hole. But Tove could turn the slightest incident into the most beautiful things – and so her home would have a sauna!

2017 is an exciting year if your heart stayed in Moominland. Kew Gardens will launch three weeks of Moomin-related family activities this Easter, while the Dulwich Picture Gallery will present¬† the first UK retrospective of Tove Jansson’s work (murals, paintings, sketches… she had so much talent and her art covered much more than the children books we mostly know her for). Let alone a new 52-episode animated series is to be directed in 2017. If you fancy going a little bit further, try the Moomin Museum opening soon in Tampere (Finland) or the new theme park in Japan…

 

Adventures in Moominland, Southbank Centre, until April 23, 2017

 

adventures in moominland southbank centre london adventures in moominland southbank centre london

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2 Comments

  1. February 10, 2017 / 14:16

    Ca y est je vais enfin voir cette expo (le 16 fev) et passer quelques jours à Londres ! Je suis trop impaciente ^__^ !!

  2. Chocoralie
    February 17, 2017 / 15:48

    @Sironimo Tu me diras ce que tu en penses. Elle m’a enchant√©!

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