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!

a petroglyph photo


possibly a petroglyph on Hornby Island?
found amidst photos from another place where we’ve not seen petroglyphs
(evidence of non-existent photo filing in pre-digital days)

a moth and Nordic art



found on the floor of my studio
like another on the windowsill
and in my office window

Not really related but sometimes rather winglike, mythical and mysterious:

Eyes as Big as Plates, an ongoing collaborative venture between Riitta Ikonen (Finland) and Karoline Hjorth (Norway). I love how their photographs are set in the natural environment and seem to reference ancient Nordic folk stories. The link above goes to a blog about their photo projects and exhibitions in each of their birth countries and now developing in New York City. Their models are volunteer seniors. Here’s the first post. Enjoy!

(Many thanks to Leslee of Third House Party for sending this to me – she knows me well!)

Added March 15th: I keep going back to look at this amazing photo of a moth at Jude Hill’s Spirit Cloth. Be sure to click to view larger. The wing edges look like frayed edges of cloth, just like the pieces of worn cloth she stitches. Her work is just lovely and meditative as is her site – a place of peace and calm.

Added March 26th: Writer and poet Marly Youmans has written a marvellous post about ‘Eyes as Big as Plates’, referencing her own book The Foliate Head and Andy Goldsworthy. I was stunned to open her blog this morning and see the image of one of the “Eyes”, this time on the cover of Kiasma magazine. Kiasma is the modern art museum in Helsinki. Go look!

mirror mirror


more play with some of the printed images from the last session in my studio,
now with a mirror… not sure where this is going yet but having fun with it

2011 in review – 2

Continuing my review of some of this year’s favourite photos from the Photoworks theme, this time from the July to December posts.

July: junkyard finds 6

August: almost September

September: jute

October: autumnal shadow play

November: hand in worship

December: oh ginger

As mentioned in the previous post of images from January to June, it was an interesting exercise and at times difficult to choose from so many images. Curiously, there was only one post, ‘shadow play’, this year with images under the ‘urban’ category, whereas I think 2009 was a bumper year with lots of urban shots of London and Paris. Not surprisingly, for those who know me, the most popular categories are ‘rocks’ and ‘nature’.

So, this is the last post on the last day of 2011, a very turbulent year around the world politically and economically. Just for a while on this New Year’s Eve tonight, I wish all of you peaceful thoughts and happiness in your own little world of family and friends. Many thanks for visiting and commenting (or not) and continuing to make this blog venture such a pleasure for me even as it nears eight years.

Happy New Year 2012, may your hopes and dreams come true! Hauskaa Uutta Vuotta ja paljon Onnea! Frohes Neues Jahr! Bonne année! See you on the other side!

Related: one year ago

2011 in review – 1

Inspired by other bloggers who are doing year-end reviews, usually of books they have read, I thought this year I would try one for the first time. I have chosen a month by month review of my better photos from the Photoworks theme, choosing at least one from each sub-category.

Here are my favourites from the January to June posts. I will do the July to December ones tomorrow.

January: leaves in ice

February: round and white

March: Beaty Biodiversity Museum – 3

April: trickster?

May: Gabriola’s petroglyphs 2

June: sensuous rocks

I found this an interesting exercise and to note that this year there was only one post for the ‘Found Objects’ category – the mask in ‘trickster’ above. More observations to come tomorrow.

Related: five years ago

the beauty of pollination


A friend sent me the link to this exquisitely beautiful time lapse video.

At the end I learned that it comes from a TED talks presentation by filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg:

Pollination: it’s vital to life on Earth, but largely unseen by the human eye. Filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg shows us the intricate world of pollen and pollinators with gorgeous high-speed images from his film “Wings of Life,” inspired by the vanishing of one of nature’s primary pollinators, the honeybee.

Enjoy his short but beautiful and inspiring talk and video.

(The photo above is mine.)

hand in worship


artist’s hand with physalis, first published in qarrtsiluni

Hands have been a major preoccupation of mine as I once wrote about here. When qarrtsiluni put out a call for submissions on the theme of worship, I began to think of the meaning of that word in a somewhat less than usual religious context.

I was inspired once again by the idea of how my hands are so much a part of me as a human being and as an artist, not just for the act of creating art but also for holding, observing and treasuring special found objects. I started to explore this idea by scanning my hand as if in the act of drawing, rather like when I had photographed my hand some years ago. I continued to make a small series of scans of my hand holding certain objects that are precious to me, as if in worship of those small things that make up this world we live in. I submitted several of these to qarrtsiluni’s guest editors and was thrilled when they were all selected.

These are now up today, including the image above. I hope you enjoy the artist’s hand as well as the other marvelous entries in qarrtsiluni’s worship issue.

P.S. Editor Dave Bonta told me that this is my 16th post at qarrtsiluni. I cannot believe it and must check out the archives in the author index.

P.S.2: Here is an earlier scan of a physalis, a favourite of mine.

my architect cousin


Seppo Mykrä has designed projects such as the Hotel Oscar expansion shown in the background, where hands were even wrung.
captured from Warkauden Lehti

Very occasionally I browse the online newspaper from Varkaus, Finland, the city where I was born and where most of my father’s family came from and where many of my cousins still live. Imagine my stunned surprise last night when I was checking it out and found a photo and article about my cousin Seppo Mykrä. He has been the city’s architect for 40 years and now has an exhibition of photographs of some of his hundreds of designs in that city.

Here’s my translation of the article:
by Rauno Ylönen 4.8.2011
Architect Seppo Mykrä’s touch is strongly reflected in the city of Varkaus and its streetscape. 70-year-old Mykrä has designed hundreds of buildings for Varkaus in the past 40 years.

Some of these are on display as photographs in the Unknown Creator exhibition at the Varkaus library starting this Wednesday. The exhibition is divided into three parts: industrial buildings, residential buildings and public buildings.

Photography and exhibition design has been carried out by Seppo Mykrä’s granddaughter, Emma Luukkala, a student at the Tampere Art High School. We are still making the book of these photographs, Luukkala says.
Read more in Warkauden magazine on Thursday.

Unknown Creator – an exhibition of Seppo Mykrä’s architecture in Varkaus from 1972-2011 at the Varkaus library exhibition room August 31st.

Can you tell how proud I am of my cousin, who is my late father’s late sister’s son? I deeply wish I could be there to see this exhibition and all his lovely family and home. The last time we met was in 2002.

Now, just a few words about the curious name Varkaus or Warkaus about which we are often teased:

Oddly enough, ‘Varkaus’ translates to ‘theft’, even though it is not the reason for giving that name to the city. In old Finnish, the same word also meant strait, and this city is located in the lake district […] on straits between two parts of Lake Saimaa.

I’ve heard many different explanations for the name but this one is new to me and does make the most sense.

And, oh, I just remembered that it’s my father’s birthday today (as well as being special for a few others in our family). If he were alive he would be 91 years old, and very very proud of his nephew!

on a beach



a quintessential scene of summer made black and white becomes somehow both timeless and historical looking, like something found in old family albums

reminding me also of these images