Thursday, March 29, 2018

Feeding your inspiration

Kokkola allows one to get completely immersed in their work because it is just so peaceful and comforting here! I have found it really easy to get lost in my drawing, painting, and writing. There were some moments where I actually had to force myself to take a break. Those times have been really precious for me as it allowed me to get out of my bubble, meet some people who live here and to participate in some local activities.

One day I found myself in front of Martta so I walked in and asked them what courses they have to offer. I enrolled myself in a cooking course with five other lovely ladies. We made numerous delicious dishes together using local fish and produce. Making a five course meal was easier than I expected :).

Meri Linna, Nordic Art School's Director, was very kind to have invited me to join Katri Aalto's three day Hatha yoga workshop. With this workshop I could recharge from the week and make space for more goodness to be let in. Balance was gratefully restored.

As one thing led to another, when I told Lauri Skantsi that I would like to meet some teachers to make Dear You with, he put me in touch with Auli Palosaari.  She is a classroom and art teacher at Mäntykankaan Ala-aste.  We hit it off immediately and hope to create an exchange together in the future!  Auli also has a love for handmade paper as it is a great form to recycle and reuse materials in a practical way.  Here she is teaching me how to make paper.

It wouldn't be a complete trip without avanto aka ice swimming. As coincidence has it, Auli's son and his girlfriend were going to the local ice hole at Palma. It was an extra special Saturday night as it Earth Hour. The nice people of Avantouintiseura Kuutit lined the snow covered path with candles and made a really beautiful environment for you to withstand the freezing cold wind on your naked body. Crazy, but so good. So good.

I didn't get a chance to see Revontuli on this trip, but I should save something for when I return! My projects are well underway thanks to the creative setting and group in Kokkola.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Arlene in translation

It is about half way into my three week residency in Kokkola and every day has been full of surprises. Surprises in the sense that, I discover something totally new or something has been reawakened inside of me. Maybe it is Spring doing its job, but there hasn't been a dull moment thus far. Despite the peaceful surroundings of white, wood, and frozen water, there are many things happening in this quaint town. If you take the time to look under a snow pebble you will find many things awaiting you!

I came here with the intention to work on Let it Out, the next phase of Translation is Dialogue, which will be made in collaboration with Prison Outside. That has been going very well as I have had time every day in the studio to plan and think of different approaches on how to make art exchanges between young people living in juvenile detention centers in Finland with youngsters in a similar situation in Russia. Our aim is to open dialogue between the participants and to create space for their stories to be heard. Through letter writing and talking on the phone, I have been able to share and develop these ideas with Anastasia Artemeva, the creator of Prison Outside.

Painting, letter writing, and reading always get me in the mood to create.

Another surprise was when Let it Out got a last minute invitation to speak at the conference, New challenges in the sphere of deviant (destructive) behaviour of minors. I made a presentation focusing on 'How art exchange can open dialogue between different groups of people'. Projects such as Prison Outside, Translation is Dialogue and Dear You were shared as examples.

My lovely new home turned into a living room for the psychologists in Russia to sit around my kitchen table virtually.

Seeing that my projects often involve making art with children and young adults, I asked Stina Kangasvieri about who I could contact about collaborating with local schools. She directed me to Lauri Skantsi, K.H. Renlund Museum's curator. He just so happened to be giving school workshops that week, which I was able to join. This workshop series was called 'Kaupunkikuva Muutoksessa'. It was wonderful to see the different ways the students could think about the past, present, and future of Kokkola. The students could write, draw, and/or build their ideas using blocks, which allowed the participants to find a medium that best fits their form of self-expression. The workshop was in conjunction with the current photograph exhibition, which created a beautiful bridge for the students to be inspired by the artworks and be active in the space.

Keeping on with the surprises- I had no idea Kokkola had an outsider's art museum called ITE-museo! I had the good fortune to see the current exhibition titled 'Pienoiskoossa Miniatyrformat'. The best part was I got a special tour of the exhibition with Elina Vuorimies and got to hear first hand from Mauri Rönni, one of the participating artists who came for the opening.

Rikhard Koivisto 

Johannes Ivakko, Kuljetuslaiva Rahtisaima, 1955-85. Meri Westlin, Käspaikat, 2011-18.

Tapani Kokko, Ihanat naiset laudalla, 2018.

Timo Vattulainen
From the warm woolly socks Stina presented to me upon arrival to now, I have felt very welcome and extra creative here at Drake Arts Centre. Thank you! Isoja kiitoksia!