[expositie] Tove Jansson – Invisible child

Tove Jansson

Hear more about the work “ The invisible child” Text and recording: Myrthe Kries

Theme: equality, fight social invisibility, social empathy, interpersonal skills, balance with nature 

Tove Jansson was an artist known for her free-spirit, both in her work and in her life. Jansson was born in Helsinki, Finland in 1914, and both her parents were artists. Because Jansson was part of the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland, and also because of her multiple same-sex relationships, Jansson was familiar with being outside the norm.

            In the beginning of 1940, Janssen worked for the satirical magazine Garm as the head designer, depicting both bohemian artistic life and everyday life during the war, however, what she most enjoyed was drawing political cartoons. Jansson was always true to herself in her work, which is what makes her art and writing so endearing. This especially holds true in her most well-known work, The Moomins (1945-1993), where she created a world that her readers turned to in order to learn from a more forgiving, fictional world how to face real-life troubles, and especially WWII.

            The Moomins contrasts the cute, softly-shaped Moomin family to the impressive but ominous world they inhabit. Jansson explores themes such as the wonders of childhood and harmony with nature, while simultaneously addressing much darker topics such as social isolation and climate change. Natural disaster stands parallel to Jansson’s experience of living through the second World War, and Jansson depicts the unpredictability of nature as a recurring theme. The sensation of powerlessness caused by such natural events mirrors feelings brought up by the uncontrollable tribulations of everyday life. Jansson loved and respected nature, including its rough edges, which comes through in her work.  

By using bright and contrasting colors, Jansson is truly able to capture both the frightening and beautiful sides to nature. The anthropomorphic and hyper-personalized visualization of the characters allows for readers to project themselves into the Moomin universe, allowing them to feel connected to their adventures. Jansson again and again returned to the themes of nature, relationships, the human and the non-human, until her death in Helsinki in 2001.