Finnish independence jubilee inspires artists at the Ornamo Art and Design Sale event

Ritva-Liisa Pohjalainen, Maamme sinivalkoinen
Ritva-Liisa Pohjalainen, Maamme sinivalkoinen.

In honour of Finland’s centenary of independence, the theme for this year’s Ornamo Art and Design Sale is Finland at 100. The artists participating in the sale event have chosen to approach the theme in a number of different ways, with some drawing inspiration from Finland’s nature and others turning their focus on the future. We asked the artists to tell us in their own words how they had decided to address the topic.

Finnish stories

Ritva-Liisa Pohjalainen was inspired by the Finnish centenary year to create her blue and white glass sculptures titled Maamme sinivalkoinen (Our blue and white land) and Lumen maa (The land of snow). The artist has also chosen to highlight the contribution made by Finnish women throughout the country’s 100-year history with Laps Suomen (Child of Finland), which also borrows its colour scheme from the Finnish flag.

“In the Laps Suomen sculpture, we see the child of Finland amidst a snow-covered landscape surrounded by lakes and seas, looking towards the future, an innocent, so pure and full of hope,” Pohjalainen says.

Äidin rakkaus yli sukupolvien (Maternal love across the generations), textile artist Soile Hovila’s five-part tapestry tells the stories of Finnish mothers through the artist’s own friends and family.

“In this work, motherhood, shown across three generations, is described as a matter of will and determination; a great grandmother who would have celebrated her 100th birthday in 2017, a grandmother at 70 and a 40-year-old mother with her daughters.

Soile Hovila, Äidin rakkaus.

Inspired by Finland’s nature

Combining painted and textile elements, Mirja March’s art is inspired by her love of Finland’s nature. Marsch has also incorporated nature itself into the works, although they are not intended to be seen as landscape art.

“My works incorporate elements that, for me, are integral to the stories they tell, including Finland’s urban nature and the inhabitants of our many forests.”

Mirja Marsch, Sydän metsässä.

Ceramic artist Ville Heimala, too, draws on the natural world for his creative expression. His sculptures, titled Kuura (Frost) and Kosmos (Cosmos) depict Finland’s nature in winter, as experienced during a winter’s day and a winter’s night. Heimala is also fascinated by the myths surrounding Finnish nature.

“I continue to identify with and be fascinated by the elements that, over a hundred years ago, were used in the construction of Finland’s fledgling national identity. They serve as recollections and reminisces from a time that ultimately saw Finland gain its independence. The Finnish National Romantic style is very much present in my works,” Heimala says.

Ville Heimala, Kosmos and Kuura.

What about the next hundred years?

In Rewriting history, the artist Sanna Rintalaulaja makes use of the distinctive marble stands on which miniatures of the Finnish national flag and other flags, found in countless Finnish homes, are mounted. These objects, reflections of Finnish values and achievements and an enduring part of the aesthetic of many private homes, no longer hold the same depth of meaning for younger generations, and they are increasingly ending up in charity shops.

“In my work, I make use of the past and historic techniques but also look towards the future and towards something new. When I think about the next one hundred years of Finnish history, I hope that sustainability and the environment will be at the forefront of our achievements. I want to express my support for such a future by using recycled elements in my art,” Rintalaulaja says.

Painter Jakke Haapanen has also turned his thoughts to the next century.

Arctic home and Hyvästi jää (Farewell) reflect my concern for the Baltic Sea and the environment is general.”

Jakke Haapanen, Arctic home.

The Ornamo Art and Design Sale form part of the official Finland 100 programme in 2017.

Ornamo Art and Design Sale 2017 at Kaapelitehdas, Helsinki, 11–19 March 2017.

Text: Saara Argillander