Am (almost) final installment about my travels around Finland. After my time in Helsinki and at the Haihatus art residency I featured in my earlier posts, 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
On a mission to find the Perala museum full of Finnish product design in my recent post, I accidentally but happily stumbled upon the 1952 ‘summer cottage’ of seminal Finnish architect Alvar Aalto called the Experimental House, on the sleepy island of Muuratsalo nestled in forest next to the epic and dreamy Lake Päijänne, the second biggest lake in Finland.
Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) was an architect and designer raised in nearby Jyvaskyla creating furniture, textiles and glassware along with painting and sculpture which he considered to be “branches of the tree whose trunk is architecture.”
His career spanned many architectural styles from the 1920’s through to the 1970’s and consistent throughout his career was an attention to Gesamtkunstwerk – a total work of art – where the whole building would be considered with special consideration to interiors, furniture, lamps, textiles and glassware.
The Experimental house was Alvar and his partner Elissa’s Aalto’s self-designed studio and summer abode. It was here that Aalto undertook various experiments with different materials and techniques
Walking through the woods I decided to take a further look and was amazed at the red brick building peeping out, which looked more like a British school or community centre in it’s style yet was nestled in a sleepy Finnish forest.
Formed around a central courtyard which accommodated stunning views out to the lake, the summer residence acted as an incubator of sorts to Alato he “could carry out experiments that are not yet sufficiently well developed to be tried out in practice and where the proximity of nature may offer inspiration for both form and structure”
There were all kinds of intriguing brick patterns around the courtyard – apparently he used fifty types of brick, getting to simultaneously test the aesthetics of a variety of patterns as well as how durable they would be in an exposed climate
During my time in Finland, scouring charity shops or ‘kirpiis’ I was hoping to find some odd publications to blog about so was thrilled to come across this beautiful children’s book ‘Kurnau ja Kamaluu.’ Typing that into a translation tool expecting to find a gentle children’s title I was alarmed / tickled to find it means ‘Crouching and Screaming.’ Sounds like a lovely soothing tale for bedtime. Anyway, something was surely lost in translation there as the illustrations contained within it are so sweet and charmingly psychedelic.
Printed in 1978 by Sanoma Osakeythio, Helsinki and written by Jaana Lappo, I love the work of it’s illustrator Outi Markkanen (b.1951).
Eye catching retro colour palettes, with bright pinks and yellows – this far out image below is my favourite
I was really bewitched by some of these scenes, especially the friendship with the giant cat which reminded me a bit of the seminal and wonderful Studio Ghibli film My Neighbour Totoro (1988) where a huge rabbit spirit creature befriends a small girl – I am still fixated on a Totoro type creature coming to see me in my dreams one day.
After over two weeks cooped up at our creative hideout in rural Finland we were itching for a daytrip before we headed back to Helsinki. The one feasible daytrip, beyond the miles of forest and lakes that engulfed us, was the unpronounceable city of Jyväskylä. Finnish travel can be super expensive and on a shoestring artist budget, we decided this was the one trip we would do, and could justify it right at the end of our stay. Well timed as by then our cabin fever levels in our tiny town had reached feverish heights.
The day before we planned to go, I happened to glance in the recycling box at our arts residency – and saw a particularly beguiling woman half obscured in a newspaper supplement. Pulling it out I was even more intrigued by this individual, perched by a lake in a dazzling get-up.
A little post about my time in the Finnish wilderness. After Helsinki in my last post, my companion, artist Rachael Macarthur and I set off for an arts residency Haihatus based in the remote lakeland region of Finland in a small town surrounded by forest called Joutsa.
I came across a super exhibition of nuts early 20th century surreal postcards when I was in Helsinki, at the brilliant Finnish Museum of Photography.
Some of the cards below are from as early as 1905 so pre-dated the Surrealist era of the 1920’s – so interesting to see how people were receptive to oddball and obscure humour long before we imagine it was part of popular culture.
My favourites were the oldest ones that I thought were also the most out there. The lemon is also possibly one of the best things I’ve ever seen
The curators did a great job to locate so many beautiful and odd examples from all over the world. I liked these April Fool’s ones
Women and small animals metamorphosing also seemed to be a theme
A few snapshots from Helsinki here, which I sailed into from Tallinn. I was given a ‘traditional’ Estonian send off which meant I was rolled onto the ferry at 7am, after no sleep and surrounded by a curious scent of vodka so proceeded to snore through the entire glorious morning cruise through the Baltic. When I stumbled off the boat at 10am with Scandinavian summertime rays already beating down, in a haze of trying to wake up and work out where I was I found scenes like this greeting me:
Posted in DESIGN, FASHION & TEXTILES, FILM & ANIMATION, ILLUSTRATION, STREET PORTRAITS, TRAVEL, Uncategorized
Tagged design, finland, helsinki, illustration, markets, vintage