Svante Lähdes worked as Tove's assistant

Svante Lähdes (1893–1975) was involved in the building of the Teuva church from the beginning to the end, working first in the employ of the contractor Kosti Holmén and after his death for the master Paavo Räihä. He was a cement mason by trade but, when needed, he also did other cement and supporting work.

Svante Lähdes was designated to be Tove Jansson’s assistant for making different types of base and colour mixes. He liked the artist a great deal and got on very well with her. Often he would talk of how the work was light because he got to make such small amounts of mixes. He told of Jansson’s smoking and mentioned how she would often say: ”Well then Svante, let’s go have us a good fanny smoke!” This meant that they would sit down for a smoke, and the saying might have originated from Svante. Svante liked Jansson as someone who was warm, friendly and one of the common folk. They probably shared the same tobacco brand: Klubi 22. Tove had to teach her helpmate how to say her name: ”Not toveri [tow-very] but tuuve [two-vay].”

Tove Jansson once visited the Lähdes home on Pohjoiskuja for coffee. Tove came walking down the lane with a big handbag or briefcase. That night, a vodka bottle appeared on the top of the chest of drawers.

Svante Lähdes came home from work in the evenings about 7 or 8, so it is likely that Tove had also worked a long day. Svante had, of course, also worked overtime on the mosaic decorations of the benches on the edges of the church. The window benches were poured and on the surface of the moist concrete were placed different colours of stones and mosaics which were then sanded to a shiny finish.

Source: Svante Lähdes’ son Tapani Lähdes.