At coffee during the dedication ceremony

Jussi Annala was the vicar during the time when the Teuva church was being built. Annala’s daughter Eeva Niemi remembers that the architect Elsi Borg presented Tove Jansson to the building committee as the artist for creating the altarpiece.

Eeva Niemi has in her possession one photograph of Tove Jansson in Teuva. The photo is from the coffee break during the dedication ceremony. In the photo are also Borg, the vicar Annala and the archbishop who conducted the dedication, Salomies, and his wife.

Eeva Niemi remembers that Tove Jansson lived at the vicarage and ate at the family dinner table when it suited her.

”I remember that it was cold outside, the church wasn’t finished, and there was a cold draught. Tove Jansson had on a thick fur coat, for warmth, not for appearances.”

When the dedication day arrived, Jansson was pleased to see the church serving the purpose for which it had been built.
”All those swear words and ugly epithets went out those windows. The workmen hadn’t likely used any fewer profanities than they did in any other building.”

Eeva Niemi tells that the shape of the altarpiece was a shock because it was different from those to which everyone was accustomed.
”It was long and low, generally altarpieces rose upwards. It was also criticised because the figure of Jesus should have been larger and more prominent.”

Eeva Niemi has in her possession a colour painting of the altarpiece, about one meter long. Tove Jansson gave it to Selma and Jussi Annala as a gift of thanks for the hospitality of the vicarage. Father wanted Eeva to have it because she had lived at home at the time.

Eeva Niemi remembers that Tove spent long days in the church working on her painting. The townsfolk of Teuva were somewhat shocked that she smoked so much tobacco. In those days, women didn’t often smoke.
”At the time, she wasn’t yet so famous. If she had been, many more persons would certainly have come to see her.”

In 1957, Jussi Annala moved and became the vicar in Laihia.
”For me who had lived in Teuva my entire life, the loss of my childhood home and surroundings was very hard. It was a long time before I was able to return to Teuva. But I always said I was from Teuva”, Eeva Niemi tells. She later attended school in Kauhajoki and Kristinestad, studied in Helsinki and then settled in Vaasa where she lives today.