Am (almost) final installment about my travels around Finland. After my time in Helsinki and at Haihatus art residency featured earlier on Kuriosas, I spent the last part of my trip in Tampere, Finland’s second largest city around 100 miles north of Helsinki, visiting a Finnish artist I’d met called Leena
Despite only meeting her once at the art residency, Leena kindly offered me a place to stay with her partner and two blonde tots in a leafy suburb of Tampere, and I found myself with amazingly warm, generous, creative and like minded tour guides for a couple of days.
Upon my arrival, I was given ‘arctic circle mushroom tea’ which apparently was just a health tonic and wasn’t going to make me see elves. I loved some of the vintage Finnish ceramics on offer and enjoyed the relaxed bohemian feel to their airy apartment, with impossibly good design everywhere I looked.
I was treated to hearty porridge breakfasts with frozen berries added in – common place in Finland with it’s abundance of foraging and fruits.
We took walks in the nearby woods with her little ones and her arctic hunter dog (who at one point dragged me through bushes Frank Spencer style as it tried to hunt a squirrel)
During my time there, Leena showed me a fascinating neighbourhood on the periphery of Tampere called Pispala. I’d actually heard about Pispala back in 2007 when I spent time in Vilnius, Lithuania (picking up treats like this book cover on the way) meeting a Finnish artist Sami who was from the area and told me what a special place it was, full of artists and creative people so I was very intrigued to see this Scandinavian artsy shangri-la.
Featuring colourful wooden houses around a lake, and steep stairwells between the streets, it reminded me of somewhere like San Franscisco, and the undeniably relaxed and bohemian atmosphere added to this.
Street art, colourful houses, waves lapping on the shore and a horizontally relaxed atmosphere, it reminded me a little of other hippy enclaves like Christiana in Copenhagen or Uzupis in Vilnius, Lithuania. With factory and construction workers originally living there when Tampere became industrialised, the area is now home to a number of Finnish artists and celebrities.