…over time, Jansson came to feel exhausted by the Moomins and that their success had obscured her other ambitions as an artist. In 1978, she satirized her situation in a short story titled “The Cartoonist” about a man called Stein contracted to produce a daily strip, Blubby, which has generated a Moomin-like universe of commercial paraphernalia—“Blubby curtains, Blubby jelly, Blubby clocks and Blubby socks, Blubby shirts and Blubby shorts.” “Tell me something,” another cartoonist asks Stein. “Are you one of those people who are prevented from doing Great Art because they draw comic strips?” Stein denies it, but that was precisely Jansson’s fear.
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in Jansson’s work beyond the Moomins. Much of this has focused on her novels for adults, which she began writing in the late 1960s and include short, crystalline works like The Summer Book (1972) and The True Deceiver (1982), which have been reissued in English since her death. Less attention has been paid to her range as a visual artist—something the Dulwich exhibition aims to rectify.
The Moomins may not … have been how Jansson would have chosen her work to be defined. Their pottering around their flowery valley, and hibernating through the fierce Nordic winters until a messenger brings news of spring made her famous the world over, but they have completely overshadowed the reputation as a serious painter that she yearned for all her life, and which the Dulwich exhibition will try to rescue.
“The pictures are wonderful,” said the gallery’s director, Jennifer Scott. “I’ve surprised myself at how drawn I feel to them. She fits perfectly into one of the things we do best at Dulwich, which is to take a very unfamiliar name, or a name people think they know, and show a completely different aspect of their work.”
- Tove Jansson 1914 – 2001, Dulwich Picture Gallery, 25 October 2017 – 28 January 2018
Walker Books is to launch Walker Studio, an imprint that will produce “books for book-lovers”.
The ethos behind the imprint is engaging design, high-quality illustration and superior production values. It will feature books by the company’s current authors and illustrators as well as debut artists and books in translation.
“We hope that even from across a bookstore, these titles will entice book-lovers of all ages to come close – and that in the hand, the books will offer tactile appeal, fascinating content, and beautiful images that linger with the reader. The exciting opportunity now is to bring these one-of-a-kind books together under a shared umbrella,” said Karen Lotz, m.d. of the Walker Group. “This imprint will be an expression of our love for the printed book.”
The imprint will launch this autumn with four titles: The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan (published with a foreword by Neil Gaiman), out in September, priced at £15; Animals by Ingela Arrhenius (September, £14.99); A World Of Information by James Brown and Richard Pitt (October, £14.99); and An Artist’s Message by Norman Messenger (October, £14.99).
This book published in August but officially launched just yesterday at an event and talk held at the Royal College of Art, is aimed at anyone, young or old, who fancies getting a handle on the theory and practice of art in 40 quick, accessible lessons. The audience yesterday consisted of a large number of Royal College of Art students, each of whom will be studying and practising these self-same concepts and techniques, albeit to a much deeper, more intense degree.
The book itself, produced by Wide Eye Editions to their usual high standards of production (the illustrations are by Daniel Frost), is quite wordy, so realistically is best given to children old enough to have developed reading fluency. It would certainly be very useful for KS2 primary teachers, both for helping them to become more able to teach art and design terms and techniques with increased confidence.
Although the text is written by one author, Professor Teal Triggs of the RCA (who has other books on art puvblished by Taschen), the conceit is that the 40 lessons it contains are delivered, usually jointly, by five different Professors: the professor of ideas (female); the professor of form (male); the professor of senses (male); the professor of making (female); with the fifth and last professor providing some politically correct ballast. The (male) ‘professor of the planet’ champions “ways in which art and design can improve people’s lives and protect our planet for future generations”.
“Part picture book, part nonfiction guide, this playful hybrid offers a wide-ranging and engaging introduction to core elements that go into the creation of art.” Publishers Weekly
Long ago, I endured a disastrous book tour of America (just two children and a shopper taking the weight off her feet at one venue). I had less than an hour to myself in Chicago, but I ran to the Art Institute, determined to see its famous Seurat. I only managed a few minutes in front of it because I was waylaid by Renoir’s painting of two circus girls. I’ve never admired Renoir’s salmon-pink fleshy ladies, but I loved these girls in their white-and-gold costumes, collecting oranges as a tribute to their performance. There’s such an immediacy about the painting that it was a surprise to discover it was painted in Renoir’s studio. The real girls, Francisca and Angelina, were 17 and 14, but the girls in the painting seem much younger. I looked at this painting and decided to write about a Victorian circus girl one day. And now I’ve written five books about circus star Hetty Feather.
Artist Ingela Hallberg has been reimagining Tove Jansson’s beloved children’s books, with a series of artworks called The Moomin Project. And the results are pretty striking.
Excellent, autobiographical blog post by Laurence Anholt:
One way or another, we were unbelievably fortunate to be working in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s. That was a Golden Time in children’s publishing, when the UK led the world with an astonishing range of imaginative picture books. It was possible to make a really good living by sitting in your studio, listening to Van Morrison and dreaming up weird and wonderful ideas for children’s stories. It felt like it would go on forever and barely a day went by without another Foreign Rights deal or an exciting offer from a publisher. Alongside my artist series I wrote the Seriously Silly Stories (illustrated by my good friend, Arthur Robins), Chimp and Zee and eventually more than 200 children’s titles, many illustrated by Cathy.
This is SO good! Absolutely up my street. An economically written YA novel with wryly observed characters and an original storyline that is emotionally engaging to a degree that more overblown, in-your-face writing can never reach.
I want Wes Anderson to discover it and make a movie of it.
Read the rest of the review >
It was good to see a selection of Ryan Schude‘s carefully choreographed work featured in yesterday’s Observer magazine…
Pool parties, teenage riots, trailer parks, vintage Fords and a toaster in the bath … for a decade, Ryan Schude has photographed raucous snapshots of America, making hedonistic tableaux that turn partying into a fine art
The winner, chosen by a Floris judging panel, will see their front cover on the new edition of The Hill of the Red Fox, which will be published by Floris as part of their Kelpies range of Scottish children’s novels in autumn 2015. The winner will also receive a cheque for £250.
The award will be presented at a private reception at The Creative Exchange, Leith, on 10th April, where the twelve shortlisted entries will be on display until the 17th April.
The shortlisted artists in full [scroll down to see their work]:
Freya Allan, Glasgow
Lewis Copland, Gray’s School of Art
David Lymburn, Edinburgh College
Brad Newman, Aberdeen
Keith Anderson, Edinburgh
Laura Darling, Edinburgh
Kieren McDonald, Robert Gordon University
Simon Ray, Edinburgh
Rebecca Catterson, Gray’s School of Art
Darren Gate, Glasgow
Jon Nagl, Fife
Anna Elez Rodrigo, Edinburgh College