Walthamstow Wetlands looks like a landscape you might see in a children’s story. The 211-hectare nature reserve is filled with reservoirs that shine like mirrored glass, and are occupied by curious little islands that hum with the sound of wildlife. Confident geese march freely on its immaculately mown grass mounds, seemingly unbothered by the thousands of visitors which pass through the Wetlands each weekend.
The space is just calling out for an outdoor art exhibition, which is why we're excited to hear today’s news that Walthamstow Wetlands has teamed up with the William Morris Gallery to produce a year-long exhibition about Finnish artist and Moomins creator Tove Jansson.
Titled ‘The Woman Who Fell in Love with an Island’, the exhibition will draw parallels between the nature of the Wetlands and the island of Klovharun in the Gulf of Finland, which Jansson visited every summer for almost 30 years, along with her partner Tuulikki Pietilä. The small exhibit of Jansson’s drawings, writings and photographs will take place inside the Wetlands’ restored engine house, but it will also spill out into nature with an outdoor art trail, and will include a downloadable recording of Jansson’s essay ‘The Island’ read by her niece Sophia Jansson as well as an audio composition from multi-instrumentalist Erland Cooper. The exhibition may coincide with the delayed UK release of ‘Tove’, a biopic on the artist by director Zaida Bergroth, which featured on the 2021 programme at BFI Flare.
The Wetlands event will be followed by a second Tove Jansson exhibition at William Morris Gallery in 2022. Both shows will mention everyone’s favourite soft, round valley creatures, but their focus will be on the author-artist’s relationship with the natural world. Alison Williams, one of the curators of ‘The Woman Who Fell in Love with an Island’, says, ‘These exhibitions will explore how island life, the weather and an ever-changing landscape informed Jansson’s work, which still captures the imaginations of children and adults alike, and share some thoughts on what we can learn from the Moomins when it comes to ecology, conservation and the climate crisis.’ Don’t let our picture mock-up above fool you, this won’t be E17’s version of Moominworld, but there will be plenty of that pithy Moomin wisdom to go around.
In the meantime, here are some art exhibitions you can visit in London right now.
Not so fussed about outdoor art? How about beer gardens?