Season’s Greetings


Jack Frost’s art on the skylights December 6th, 2016


Sunrise through the wreath, December 6th


the back garden on Snow Day, December 18th, 2016


O Christmas Tree…. December 2016

After a very wet October and November with long dark days, the three snow storms of December cheered us greatly with brightness and beauty, even at night with the Supermoon and Christmas lights coming up in the neighbourhood. Most of it has melted or washed away by some rain except for patches here and there. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve which we Finns and Germans traditionally celebrate with a feast and gift exchanges.

My dear readers may be as delighted as I am by this: Doe, A Deer, A Female Deer: The Spirit of Mother Christmas. Thanks to daughter Erika for passing it on.

I send my warmest wishes of the season to all my readers with a huge thank you for your friendship.

spooky halloween


Whether you call it Hallowe’en, All Hallow’s Eve, Samhain, Day of the Dead or Kekri, may it be a spine-tingling, fun and safe one. Our heavy heavy rains have finally stopped just now and it might be a dry night for the little ghosts and goblins.

If you fancy a visit through my past Hallowee’en posts to put you in the spirit, click here. As you will notice, the image above is a reworking of a favourite one used before.

Eyes as Big as Plates


Eyes as Big as Plates # Agnes II © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen


Eyes as Big as Plates # Velkkari © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen

The first time I saw Eyes as Big as Plates and its many amazing photographs of elders set in nature, wearing materials from the earth, blending with the earth, sometimes half lost in moss or pond, I was completely stunned and awed by all of it. Learning that the artists are a Finn, Riitta Ikonen and a Norwegian, Karoline Hjorth explained a lot behind my feeling of a deep connection to the images – our Nordic roots, folklore and nature.

Riitta and Karoline worked with volunteer elders in Finland, Norway, New York, France, Iceland and the Faroe Islands. (I must say the settings in Iceland are the most dramatic!) They captured a wonderful sense of beauty, wisdom, humour and love of adventure in these models in their various home places.

This body of work has stayed with me as some of the most exciting I have seen. I have followed their blog since and now learned that they will have their first comprehensive solo exhibition of Eyes as Big as Plates in Oslo, opening January 23rd. How I wish I could be there to see the work and meet the artists!

Many thanks to Riitta and Karoline for permission to use a couple of their photos. Congratulations on your stunning project and best wishes for your continuing successes! It would be wonderful if their exhibition were to come to Vancouver!

artists in conversation

Yesterday afternoon we went to see an exhibition at the Seymour Art Gallery called Odd Occurrences: Narrative in the Art of Kristin Bjornerud, Tamara Bond, Tomoyo Ihaya, and Carrie Walker.

Here is the exhibition statement:
The artists in Odd Occurrences build on centuries-old traditions of oral and visual storytelling to create images that are wildly imaginative and intriguingly strange, mysteriously disturbing or oddly funny. In days gone by people were familiar with stories told through the spoken and written word and pictures because they usually depicted events from religious life, history, and traditions or communicated prevailing myths and legends. Today, however, in our pluralistic, postmodern society, we cannot simply assume commonalities of experience-there is no single narrative. Instead, the artists in Odd Occurrences offer a rich mixture of fabricated narratives derived from personal experience, cultural origins, current events, dreams, myths, and folk-tales. Telling their tales with human figures, animals, and objects, the four artists use formats that range from symbolic descriptions of occurrences to odd juxtapositions of found and newly invented imagery. These open-ended, nonlinear narratives, often stories suggested but not fully realized, allow for multiple levels of viewer interpretation.

Beautiful, exquisitely created work by all, using various drawing and painting media.

We timed it to also take in the Conversation with Guest Curator Rachel Rosenfield Lafo and three of the artists and the audience. It centered and elaborated on the above themes and was very accessible and enjoyable for the audience and added to the appreciation of the work. I found it most interesting to learn that the curator had seen these artists’ works in separate exhibitions and had noted certain similarities between them. And as curators sometimes do, she came up with an exhibition theme and proposal, invited the artists to take part, and arranged this exhibition venue.

On a more personal note, I want to mention that Tomoyo Ihaya is a long time friend whose work I’ve written about here many times (search here if you like). I was sorry to miss the opening night when she gave a talk, for she was unable to join the others at this later date because by then she had already returned to northern India where she spends much of each year. In addition I have met Tamara, a friend and fellow art school graduate of our daughter Elisa.

The exhibition continues to October 14th, so if you are in the Vancouver area, I highly recommend a visit to see this wonderful art, in this lovely location in Deep Cove.

Regarding the images below, these are quick photos of some of the work in the gallery taken just as the chairs were being set up for the talk, and with permission and a promise not to take closeups. I hope these give a slight idea of each artist’s work and that you may be intrigued enough to visit their websites or other links.

by Kristin Bjornerud

by Tamara Bond

by Tomoyo Ihaya

by Carrie Walker

Hallowe’en time


Too busy in the studio and too tired and sore after some heavy gardening this past week, I’m taking the lazy route and reposting my spookiest image from two years ago. To put you and me in the mood for this scary season, here is a favourite past Hallowe’en post: Kekri and Samhain.

The Vancouver region features many Hallowe’en events this weekend. Some of our daughters in their young adult years often took part in the Parade of Lost Souls and the little ones loved the Stanley Park Ghost Train. Tomorrow evening the little trick-or-treaters will be roaming from door to door. Later in the evening we’ll hopefully see some wonderful fireworks in our neigbourhood. Happy Hallowe’en to all!



That day in the woods when I was looking up at the otherworldly looking fungi on a tree, I nearly stepped on this feathery mask on the ground not far from it. A child may have dropped it… was it part of a Mardi Gras costume?


Curious thoughts of a west coast forest spirit or a trickster played on my mind… and still do whenever I look at these photos.

Added a few hours later: It has been dawning on me that this reminds me of my owl-woman in my print ARKEO #4 (see the fabulous comments) and also repeated in ARKEO #7.

At the time I was making ARKEO #4, I was thinking vaguely of our Northwest Coast First Nations’ trickster, the raven, but later it dawned on me that it was also the Kalevala owl-woman Louhi. It was wonderful for me that readers saw other cultural mythic figures or tricksters in the work. Fascinating – I just love these kind of connections and exchanges.

lunar eclipse at winter solstice

Photograph by Heribert Proepper, AP

Tonight or actually in the wee hours of tomorrow morning, if you are lucky with the weather and live in the northern hemisphere, you can celebrate the Winter Solstice in grand fashion with a full lunar eclipse occurring at the same time, a most rare event. We will not be one of the lucky ones as it is cloudy here. If it had only been last night when it was clear.

I enjoyed these links about this unusual cosmic event:
-at CBC News
-at Quirks and Quarks, including this video
-at National Geographic (source of the image above)
Spacedex has information on viewing times and places, here it is for BC
– and finally, this wonderful post on Winter Solstice in Newgrange.

I wonder if wintry Stonehenge will be busy this year, especially at this unusually mystical and magical, and hopefully, auspicious time.
So, Happy Solstice and Happy Lunar Eclipse. Onward to lighter days ahead!

old Finnish jewelry


Somewhat related to my ‘textures of home’ series, but much more personal, featured here are some very old Finnish pendants and a brooch that have been passed on to me. These styles were and still are commonly worn with the Finnish national costumes.

I don’t know if these were made by Kalevala Koru but I rather think so for the company’s designs are based on replicas of ancient Iron Age jewelry discovered in Finland and Scandinavia by archaeologists. I’ve just learned a bit more about the company’s fascinating history and that it’s fully owned by women in Finland. Some of you may know the name Kalevala comes from the Finnish national epic poem.

These may not be priceless precious jewels but I love that these pieces are made of local heavy brass or bronze and are not shiny and new looking like some of my newer Kalevala Koru pieces (though I love those too). To me they feel full of history and ancient culture as well as being family heirlooms. I do wear these often particularly the dark pendant which is my favourite.

Added January 25th, 2012: Thanks to a nice surprise — an article about a 1941 Kalevala Koru catalogue at the Finnish Kansanperinne-blogi (ancient traditions blog), I’m now able to identify two of the pendants, second from the left and the far right one, as being Kalevala Koru creations, and the date! I’m so very pleased to know this.

Added December 30th, 2012: While looking for something else on my blog, I came across this photo of my mother, wearing the pendant on the right. Read the story behind it in the comments.

‘Tis the shortest day

and the longest night for us in the northern hemisphere. It’s a very dark and rainy day here in Vancouver starting strangely at an unseasonal high of 10C (50 F) and to drop down to 5C (41F) this afternoon. But we are to have sunny days and frosty nights ahead. If I can’t have a white Christmas, a sunny, crisp and green Christmas is second best. The light of sunshine or the brightness of snow, the seasonal lights, candles and fires are all a blessing against the darkness of this time of year and the looking forward to lengthening days, in a continuing ancient and universal celebration.


I always think of solstice celebration sites like Stonehenge so this year I’m tickled to be able to put here one of my own Stonehenge photos from our springtime visit there, though the light of course is not as it is this time of year.

Also curiously suitable to this day is Qarttsiluni’s publishing of my piece, Silent Messengers: Writing on Stone III. Was it planned so by the editors? Do listen to the fascinating discussion on the podcast.

Happy Solstice, dear readers and friends! Keep warm and safe, those of you in other parts of the globe who are snowed in! And my southern friends, enjoy your summer!

More from the archives:
solstice time, 2008
to light, 2007
the longest night, 2006, with Newgrange
happy winter solstice in 2005
and in 2004

Lucia and lights


How lovely, on Lucia’s Day to have our first real snowfall, light flakes slowly dancing down, the frozen ground now white and an icing-sugar-like dusting on evergreen branches. It set the right mood for finishing up the holiday letters and cards.

We were lucky to have two weeks of sunshine before these clouds came along, but the days are short, the nights long, thus our craving for light becomes a part of the season’s celebrations here in the northern lands.

St. Lucia is celebrated by the Scandinavians, even the Finns now. Expatriates might have such celebrations in the Scandinavian community centers outside their home countries. But we had a small taste of another celebration yesterday when we met friends from out of town for lunch at the beautiful VanDusen Gardens. It’s the setting for the annual Festival of Lights. It was a treat to see them come on in the darkening afternoon just before leaving but we had no time to go in for a walk for it’s a huge park. We have enjoyed those amazing light presentations there one night some years ago with these same friends and it really is a magical place. The garden volunteers spend two months putting up the lights.

On the drive home we spotted Christmas trees for sale next to a Catholic church doing a fundraiser for their school, and so it was we picked up a tree, saving a trip out today! It’s sitting inside the garage in a bucket of water, awaiting the night we bring it in and put on lights and ornaments. We usually do it on Carol Ship Night when the boats go by all lit up with lights, with the biggest one ringing out Christmas carols.

Now that the letters are done, thoughts turn to start cleaning and decorating our home. On Wednesday, our family in the UK are arriving, so there will be the merry sound of excited and happy grandchildren in the house again! Soon there will another midwinter celebration of light.