C is for Chapeau

C is for Chapeau

Many of Marika Maijala drawings are repeated images and one recurring subject is the hat.

The literal word ‘chapeau’ comes from the French, and it means ’hat’. Aside from meaning ‘hat’ it is also used when congratulating and giving someone respect, a short way of saying ‘hat off’ or ‘I’m so impressed, I take my hat off’. Chapeau!

Marika Maijala’s characters often wear hats. We see men, women and children wearing hats in the busy streets, parks and museums. They can be modest black hats, ridiculously tiny derby hats or gigantic brim hats, the size doesn’t matter. The hat is a symbol of dignity and it serves as a sign of intellectual cognition. When it comes to wearing a hat, maybe I should not even say man or woman, but rather gentleman and lady. The funny hats can be seen as a sign of artists’ longing for lost worlds and at the same time, awareness of social distinction.


Many of the exhibition ideas are based on conversations I’ve had with the artists or others. In early spring,  I was talking with musician Aino Venna about the French language.  According to Aino, even the most ordinary words and the most idiotically useless phrases sound fantastic and romantic in French. As an example, she used the phrase: ”Le chapeau de ma tante.” (My aunt’s hat) Actually, Aino was remembering the phrase “plume de ma tante“, attributed to elementary French language instruction and used in teaching the sounds of the French vowel. Next time we met, Aino was wearing a wide brim black hat.  I took a dramatic picture of the hat instead of Aino, who was tired and suffering spring allergies. Later that day, Marika who was in Paris, posted a picture of hats to her Instagram and I felt like I was literally seeing hats everywhere.



I don’t use hats myself, but this pink beret I found from a tourist shop near Shakespeare and Company while wandering the streets of Paris with Marika. It made me feel very Parisienne, but I haven’t had the guts to use it back in Finland.

Can you find the pink hat in this picture?

Further reading:

Sara Bowman: A Fashion For Extravagance, 1985, W.P.Dutton, New York

To see in the exhibition:

Marika Maijala: At the Museum, Wax Crayon on paper, 2019

Marika Maijala: In the Garden (Pink Hat), Wax Crayon on paper, 2019

Maria Herreros, Book cover illustration of Paris Sera Toujours Paris / Watercolor and graphite on paper, 2018