Tom of Finland Art and Culture Festival continues its world tour

The festival popped up in London last week ahead of its LA event later in the year

Tom of finland illustration
(Image credit: Tom of Finland Foundation)

The Tom of Finland Foundation brought its Art and Culture festival to London last week for the second time, ahead of its Los Angeles iteration in October at the Soho Warehouse and following a Berlin edition earlier this year.

The legacy of the queer icon Tom of Finland lived on at the two-day festival held at the Standard Hotel, which brought together erotic artists and leather aficionados. Titled Global Sexual, the festival was organised by the Tom of Finland Foundation and was curated by its creative director Richard Villani, and chief curator at Avant Arte Gemma Rolls-Bentley. 

men doing exercise

Rick Castro

(Image credit: Tom of Finland)

On the programme was a series of talks and workshops and a seductive showcase of artists working in erotica. The roster included photographers such as Matt Ford, whose glossy photography series of rubber wearers was particularly eye-catching. Photographer and filmmaker Rick Castro showcased a new book of photography depicting the street hustlers of Los Angeles between 1986 and 1999 .

Also on show was Pâme, a design studio taking their name from the French verb ‘se pâmer’, meaning to swoon. Fittingly the work on show was a series of delicate silk pocket squares featuring portraits of models in various states of climax. London-based artist James Davison brought a series of frilly and bejewelled pillows featuring his original drawings.

women exercising

Cherry Au Hon I in Crap Zine No. 2

(Image credit: Cherry Au Hon courtesy of Crap Zine)

Parc presented the latest issue of Crap Zine, featuring works from Cherry Au Hon I, Andreas Larsson and Louise Gray amongst others, all responding to the theme of ‘grey marl’ - a material with a sensual connotation for some. Photographer Oliraptor also showcased a new series of cyanotypes capturing intimate jewellery. 

A wide ranging programme of talks took place, covering such topics as the past, present and future of the leather community, pornography and writing queer erotica. Finally, Sketch Sesh - an experimental life drawing collective founded by James Davison and Simon Gray - hosted an intimate hour of croquis modelled by adult entertainer John Thomas donning custom garments by designer Max Allen.  

The Tom of Finland Foundation was founded to preserve the archive of work by the artist, whose heightened illustrations of muscle men in skin tight leather, various uniform or states of undress have firmly established its place in the visual vocabulary of generations of queer folk since first appearing in the pages of Physique Pictorial in the 1950s. 

The foundation was founded in 1984 by the artist and his friend and lover Sir Durk Dehner, who is still at the helm of the foundation today. Dehner was recently included in Wallpaper’s USA 300 list and also received a knighthood by the Chancery of the Orders of the White Rose of Finland and the Lion of Finland. 

Today its mission is to provide a platform for queer and erotic artists through residences at its headquarters in Los Angeles and exhibitions such as ‘AllTogether’, the Art and Culture Festival and much more.