As the craze for all things Nordic continues at Southbank Centre, Absolutely.London celebrates the magical world of the Moomins

Words Pendle Harte

If 2016 was the year of hygge, then 2017 is set to be the year of the Moomins. The Southbank Centre has launched Nordic Matters, a year of Scandinavian-themed events, which kicks off with Adventures in Moominland, an immersive exhibition dedicated to the rounded inhabitants of Moominvalley and their Finnish creator, Tove Jansson. Other global Moomin happenings in 2017 incude the opening of a new museum in Finland, the launch of a new animated series by Wallace and Gromit’s Steve Box and an Easter Moomin festival at Kew Gardens.

The exhibition at the Festival Hall focuses heavily on Jansson’s life, featuring original illustrations and artworks as well as letters and personal items from her studio, displayed in an interactive world based on the Nordic landscape of the books. Several of the Moomin stories, such as Comet in Moominland (1946) and Moomin Midwinter (1957) were written against the backdrop of political and socio-economic change in Finland and heavily influenced by Tove’s relationships with family, friends and lovers which defined the narrative and character development. Written during a time of hardship and war, the tolerant world of Moominvalley offered a refuge from the harshness of reality. Jansson explored her art and own sexuality within the confines of this changing political landscape – and her friends, enemies, fears and hopes often found themselves manifested in the complex and emotional stories.

Accompanying the Southbank’s exhibition is a pop-up Moomin store in the Festival Hall, selling the ever-popular Moomin homewares. Finish design company Arabia started manufacturing Moomin-themed children’s ceramics, using Jansson’s original illustrations, in the late 1950s, and a second launch in the 1990s kicked off a Moomin boom that has never really gone away. The high quality ceramics with their simple, practical shapes and the high-shine glaze of the colourful Moomin motifs make the pieces highly collectible – and the limited edition ranges particularly so.

Accompanying the Southbank’s exhibition is a pop-up Moomin store in the Festival Hall, selling the ever-popular Moomin homewares. Finish design company Arabia started manufacturing Moomin-themed children’s ceramics, using Jansson’s original illustrations, in the late 1950s, and a second launch in the 1990s kicked off a Moomin boom that has never really gone away. The high quality ceramics with their simple, practical shapes and the high-shine glaze of the colourful Moomin motifs make the pieces highly collectible – and the limited edition ranges particularly so.

Accompanying the Southbank’s exhibition is a pop-up Moomin store in the Festival Hall, selling the ever-popular Moomin homewares. Finish design company Arabia started manufacturing Moomin-themed children’s ceramics, using Jansson’s original illustrations, in the late 1950s, and a second launch in the 1990s kicked off a Moomin boom that has never really gone away. The high quality ceramics with their simple, practical shapes and the high-shine glaze of the colourful Moomin motifs make the pieces highly collectible – and the limited edition ranges particularly so.

The Moomin-themed Easter extravaganza at Kew Gardens is an exciting interactive trail exploring the hidden depths of the gardens, passing vibrant displays of fritillaries, camassias and tulips, and culminating at a magical Moomin Camp in the wild woodland of the Conservation Area.

Sophia Jansson, creative director of Moomin Characters and niece of Tove Jansson, said: “All of the inhabitants of Moominvalley possess a deep love and respect for nature, from the Hemulens who spend their time collecting plants or butterflies to the adventurous Snufkin, whose music is inspired by the landscape around him.”

southbankcentre.co.uk

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