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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Helsinki (part two)

Okay, clear of mind and fresh of skin we head out to Tove's studio. {Back to us is Festival organizer Otto Sinisalo and against the wall is cartoonist Frank Odoi from Ghana.}

I really had no idea what to expect. I've seen photos and even videos from years ago but I figured we were looking at a different place. Maybe a mansion in the nicest part of town or something?

We took the streetcar and turned down a few streets and arrived at a beige building.

Well, it's clearly marked by a Viktor Jansson (Tove's father) sculpture of a young Tove and plaque.

Turns out it's an apartment building and Tove's studio and apartment are located on the top floor. As we walk up, we all get noticeably excited. This seems impossible that we could be here.

The courtyard view from the sixth floor stairwell.

We all kind of apprehensively step across the threshold in the apartment.

A bit of history (from Sophia's introduction to the studio and living space): Tove bought or moved into the studio in 1944 after seeing it a couple of years before and knowing she wanted to live there. She then lived there for the next 57 years--the rest of her life. There is no real kitchen, just a wood burning stove for cooking and heating in the studio and heater in the entry room. Those are her actual notes on the wall.

The apartment was pretty small. Tove wrote in the front area, painted in the studio, and slept upstairs in the loft area. There were modifications over the years but the studio is largely untouched (a paint job or two and the renovation over the years was done by her girlfriend Tuulikki's brother, Reima--a famous Finnish architect) in the ten years since Tove's death. The books she read are on the shelves. Her bed, her vanity, knick-knacks on bookshelves and windowsills, sculptures.

Juhani Tolvanen tells a charming anecdote about after Tove quit smoking she loved when he visited because he usually had a cigar in his pocket and she got to smell the cigar smoke. Trust me, this guy loves cigars.

This model ship is (I believe) the same ship I opened the photo set with. Finland used to have a number of lighthouse boats to direct traffic. This model was built by Tove and her family when she was a child.

Her father's sculptures (actually plaster studies for the later bronzes) placed around the studio. (In a previous batch, this post is getting complicated.)The models are Tove and her mother but with different faces. And that painting is a very early pre-WWII self portrait by Tove. Oh, and there are here pallets.

Look at these hand lettered books. We were asked not to touch things so I actually ran back downstairs to ask Sophia if she knew what they were and she quietly said "oh, go look at them." Turns out they were strip collections assembled by Tove's mom, Signe, from the stats sent from the syndicate.

I don't know what this is but I swear it's Tove's handwriting?!?


Here is tiny alcove where Tove's bed resides.

Her vanity.

Knick-knacks and Moomin toys.

The fireplace that heats the studio. And the little stove on top is pretty much the extent of Tove's kitchen.

Sophia told us a sweet story that Tove's girlfriend, Tuulikki Pietilä, also had an apartment and studio in the building and they used to cross through the attic to visit each other. In fact, Tuulikki lived there until she died in 2009. {In the background, we see Anja Luginbuhl from Editions Moderne and Morgan Charpentier from Les Requins Marteaux.}

Oh, hello, copy of It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken just sitting there on Tove's bookshelf.

Julia! Gramps is here. {Nerd alert: Our Julia is the granddaughter of science fiction genius Frederik Pohl. Say what?}

There was a brief presentation and interview conducted by translator Kirsi Kinnunen with three Finnish cartoonists--Katia Tukiainen, Petteri Tikkanen, Marko Turunen--and then off to lunch.

Peg says this is reindeer. Could be. I just heard the words "Mixed Hunt" and said yes. Sure, it looks kinda gross but I assure you it was delicious.

After lunch while waiting for coffee, Maria leads us in a discussion on the pitfalls and triumphs in publishing. Peg and I can't help ourselves and we just take over. Because that's what we do. Translator Claire Saint-Germain looks on.

Sabine Witkowski from Carlsen. Sabine was our pal. She shared a passion not only for outsider cartooning but also Arabia china. Love her!

Morgan glares at one of my delightful publishing stories. Sam Arthur from Nobrow on the far right. Such a gentleman putting up with my occasional outbursts of "Crikey!" and prolonged Davey Jones impressions that morphed into Paul Hogan impressions.

Nuno Nieves and Susana Vilela from Serrote in Portugal. A new small publisher. They had a cute little illustrated book on Finland in English, Portugese, and Finnish. Also, they served Port at their booth at the festival. So they were great.

Latino from Rackham makes a point. There was a lot said that should not be leaked!! Good thing nobody was live tweeting. Right, Sam, RIGHT?? Off to meetings already so not pictured is Anja Luginbuhl from Editions Moderne.

Okay, there's a little more to go tomorrow and that's it. Oh, and here's another photoset from the show.


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