Niina Niskanen | content by

Niina Niskanen

Me and the Moomins

When you live in Finland, growing up without having heard of the Moomins isn’t a possibility.

I grew up in the 90s, when the Moomin animated series had just started. Now I think it’s on Finnish television almost every year. I loved all the Moomin characters immediately. Mamma reminded me of my own grandma, Pappa was very adventurous, Little My very funny, Moomintroll always so exited about new things, and I wanted to be like Snuffkin and travel around the world.

Tove Jansson was a Swedish-Finnish artist and author. I think she is Finland’s most popular children’s author. She came from very artistic family–her mother was an illustrator and her father a sculptor. She also had two brothers, who both became artists later on. In the Moomin books, you can find many similarities to Tove Jansson’s childhood. Her family loved sailing, and Tove and her brothers liked to play in caves—even Tove’s childhood house looks a bit like the blue house the Moomins live in.

Later on I read Tove Jansson’s biography and some of the comics she and her brother Lars drew for English newspapers. If you haven’t read these comics I highly recommend them. They’re so incredibly funny–and very different than the animation series.

Moomin philosophy is very rich, and it’s all about enjoying life. There isn’t any money in Moominvalley, and kids don’t go to school–I’ve read that Tove Jansson never really liked going to school. As I learned to read, the Moomin books were really great with their rich language and ink illustrations—they were so mystical and filled with details. My favorites are Moominsummer Madness and Moomin and the Magic Hat.

Now comes my own Moomin project: I’ve always enjoyed drawing and crafting; now I’m study in art school to become an artisan, and Tove Jansson has had a big influence on my art.

In 2007, I saw some really beautiful dollhouses on the internet, and I wanted to build my own Moominhouse! Now I’m proud to have it finished. The Moomins I’ve sculpted mostly from cernit and fimo and baked them in the oven. Then I just build the Moominhouse little by little. Next, I’m planning the witch and Alice. I know Tove Jansson didn’t create these two characters herself. But I’ve always thought of them part of Moomin world, so I think I’m going to sculpt them too.

I’ve also visited the Moominvalley in Tampere a few times. That was a great place to get ideas for my Moominhouse. All the little scenes there were built by Tove and her partner Tuulikki Pietilä (who also was a great graphic artist).

Moomins have changed a lot during the years. First Moomins had black skin, very long snouts and they were always bit sad or angry. Now they’re nicely round, white and furry in winter. And they’re loved not just by the Finns but also Japanese, Americans, British, Swedish, even Hungarians . . . the list goes on and on. I’ve been lucky enough to meet many other Moomin fans from all over the world thanks to the internet – especially the Moomin livejournal community!


Moominweek Index

Series: Moominweek

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