2020 celebrates the 100th birthday of the graphic artist Touko Laaksonen, better known as Tom Of Finland, who had a great impact on popular culture, for instance fashion, photography and music. The Finnish Institute are now looking for artistic and societal projects in the UK that deal with the legacy of his work.
The proposal/applicant must have a clear link to Finland but are to be realised during 2020 in Britain or Ireland.
The Finnish Institute will support selected projects up to maximum 10,000€. Existing bilateral partnerships and projects that can be realised in several locations will be considered a plus.
From the 1940s on, Tom pushed the boundaries of gay erotic art, creating a style of comics that inspired a generation of gay men to celebrate their sexuality.
“My aim is not to create an ideal but to draw beautiful men who love each other and are proud of it,” Tom, who died in 1991, noted in his book, Tom of Finland: His Life and Times.
“In those days, a gay man was made to feel nothing but shame about his feelings and his sexuality. I wanted my drawings to counteract that, to show gay men being happy and positive about who they were. Oh, I didn’t sit down to think this all out carefully. But I knew – right from the start – that my men were going to be proud and happy men!”
This year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival hosted an exhibition of work by Tom of Finland in partnership with the Kendal-based Cross Lane Projects, the Tom of Finland Foundation and the Finnish Institute, which was very well received.