The break in writing posts is because I have been in Finland for a week. While primarily for fieldwork, the visit embraced arty things, notably an exhibition ‘Sibelius and Images of Finland’ by three masters of photography, Heikki Aho, Bjorn Soldan and Claire Aho, seen at both Helsinki airport and the Academic Bookstore in central Helsinki; and a visually striking retrospective exhibition at Espoo of the recently-late L-G Nordstrom, Finland’s outstanding Constructivist-Modernist painter.
Another large exhibition called ‘Magic of the North’ brought together at the Ateneum gallery, also in central Helsinki, leading artists of Norway and Finland who were painting either side of 1900. The whole was not exactly a celebration of joy or populous landscape; but the collective gloom illumined by trolls and scary creatures of the afforested night gave food for thought about the skill with which these painters conveyed darkness, stillness, eye-stretching forest, steely skies and water cold enough to make you shiver just by looking at their depiction of it.
View from the top of the lighthouse on Solskaer, the furthest and barest of the islands in the Helsinki archipelago on a fine but windy day (the wind was so strong that I did not dare lean out over the railing to cut the safety mesh out of the photograph). In contrast, below, is the steely grey of sea, sky and glaciated rock island near Helsinki city centre.
From my personal point of view, however, best was boating out and about the Helsinki archipelago by public ferries on July seas which always, except for the trip to Solskaer, looked almost as cold as that in the paintings. The objective was to collect material of my own, photographically and graphically, which might, just might, spark off a modest Finnish work or two which I also could try to make empty, cold and deeply meaningful.
Munch, you might say but would try not to, food for thought there too.