Tove Jansson’s exhibition: Tales From the Nordic Archipelago, depicting island life in the archipelago of Finland, is recently on show in Huddersfield Art Gallery, Huddersfield from 26 September, 2015 until 6 January, 2016. In connection to the exhibition, visual artist and teacher Elina Rantasuo organises a workshop on artist’s books on 26 - 27 November. The exhibition, curated by the Finnish Institute in London together with the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), is a part of ICA’s Reading Room -tour, which has toured three museums in the UK from 2014.
Jansson’s photography exhibition received a great deal of press and media attention during its launch in summer 2014 including Financial Times Critics' Choice and coverage in Harper's Bazaar, Monocle and BBC World to mention a few. The exhibition was co-curated by The Finnish Institute in London and ICA.
Elina Rantasuo is a visual artist and teacher, who works with printmaking and animation. We interviewed Elina about artists’ books, bookbinding and island thematics.
What are artists’ books and what is their meaning to you?
Artists’ books are works of art in a form of a book, but they can also have quite a free format. They are often unique or made in small quantities. I have made both painting-like pop-up books and foldable books using my graphic prints. I bind most of my sketch books myself, and I can’t always tell the difference between those and artists’ books. Sketching and drawing as well as writing notes have always been important tools for me.
What is bookbinding and what kind of principles apply to it? Do you have professional secrets regarding bookbinding or making artists’ books?
Bookbinding can be traditional, experimental or something in between. Skilfully bound books are magnificent and they have their place and use. When I’m making my own sketch or artists’ books, I usually don’t follow any rules. Instead I try new ways of binding. Rules are made to be broken!
How is the workshop related to the Tove Jansson’s exhibition or to its theme island?
At the beginning of the workshop we will look into the places important to Tove Jansson. After this everyone can think about the places that are important for them. We will make sketch-like ink paintings of these places and create pop-up books out of them.
What is your own relationship to Jansson’s art or her as a well known artist and character?
Ever since I was I child I’ve always loved Tove’s tales. As I’ve grown with Tove’s stories and pictures, it would be false to blame that those haven’t influenced my artistic work. Forces of nature are often an inspiration to my work and I often use them as a metaphor. A certain kind of ominous or melancholic feel is often present in my works, just like it was in Tove’s stories of waiting for the winter, a storm or a comet. When I’m working with animation and drawing, I’m always balancing between storytelling and creating a stagnant or slowly transforming scenery.
What do you expect from the workshop?
I hope that the participants will get inspired by the theme and will work on their ideas with an open-mind. I hope that we’ll have the chance to show our finished works to the public!
The workshop is held at Huddersfield Art Gallery in Huddersfield 26 and 27 November