A Finnish publication has cheekily Photoshopped a depiction of a Tom of Finland leatherman into a photograph of one of Helsinki’s most famous landmarks.
The September issue of Kuukausiliite, a monthly supplement to Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, includes a photo in which the nude from the bronze statue known as Havis Amanda has been replaced by a Tom of Finland leatherman.
Detail from a depiction of the Havis Amanda statue, re-imagined with a Tom of Finland leatherman
Sculpted by Finnish artist Ville Vallgren (1855-1940) and unveiled in 1908, Havis Amanda is one of the most popular landmarks in Helsinki. Located at the city’s Market Square, it is commonly used as a meeting place for locals. Vallgren originally called the statue Merenneito (Finnish for “mermaid”), but it eventually became known as Havis Amanda (“sea nymph” in Swedish). Although the statue was originally the subject of controversy due in part to its nudity, it came to gain wider acceptance and today is considered a symbol of Helsinki.
Havis Amanda statue (1908)
This is not the first time that the Havis Amanda has been subject to affectionate modification. Every year, university students place a Finnish student cap on the statue’s head as part of Vappu celebrations for the coming of Spring. As can be seen from the full article in Kuukausiliite (in PDF form here), the Tom of Finland parody involves two additional hats: as well as the leatherman’s cap, one of the sea lions surrounding the statue is wearing a leather cap.
Finland is currently rediscovering Tom of Finland via a wave of Tom-related projects currently taking place in Finland, all accomplished with support from the Tom of Finland Foundation. The Tom of Finland postal stamp series and a coinciding exhibition of Tom’s letter correspondence, Sealed With A Secret – Correspondence of Tom of Finland, launched in Finland on September 8 to worldwide attention. The Sealed With A Secret exhibition opened as the inaugural show at Finland’s new Postal Museum. A few days earlier, on August 28, a Finnish language book of Tom’s comics, Tom of Finland: Sarja Kuvia, was released by Finnish publisher Like Publishing. The book – which includes art that had never been printed – was launched at the opening of Tom of Finland: Dirty Frames, a Helsinki exhibition of Tom’s comic art.
Widely recognised as Finland’s most famous artist, Tom’s depictions of hyper-masculine gay men attained iconic status throughout Europe, North America and further afield in the second half of the last century. Given Tom’s status, it makes sense for one Finnish artistic icon to take the place of another – even if only for one imaginary night.
“Tom of Finland: Dirty Frames” runs until September 28 at MUU Galleria, Lönnrotinkatu 33, 00180 Helsinki, Finland. Gallery hours: Tues-Fri 12-5pm, Sat-Sun 12-4pm. Map | Facebook event | Gallery phone number +358-(0)9-625 972. Information and purchase details for Tom of Finland: Sarja Kuvia are available at the book’s page on the Like Publishing website. Sealed With A Secret – Correspondence of Tom of Finland runs until March 29, 2015 at the Postal Museum at Museum Centre Vapriikki, Alaverstaanraitti 5, 33101 Tampere, Finland. Exhibition hours: Tues-Sun, 10am-6pm. Map | Museum phone number +358 (0) 3 5656 6966.