Whale Rider

I saw Whale Rider for the first time this weekend, on DVD. Though I do not intend to be a film critic on this blog, this movie is so astounding that I would like to share my excitement about it.

It is a work of art visually and it moves the heart, mind and spirit. The multiple themes running through it make for an excellent story, but uppermost is that of the culture and traditions of the New Zealand Maoris. The DVD gives excellent background information about the filming, so if you have already seen it in the theatres, it’s worth seeing it again for this reason. I plan to view it again, it’s magic, to quote the film ads!

Read an excellent review*, but be warned that it describes the story at length, so see the film first.

Update Jan.2014 *link has expired. You may like to read more about it in wikipedia.

KALEVALA and The Lord of the Rings

As a Finnish-Canadian artist, I am drawn to learning more about the very ancient roots of my family in the Old World. In writing about these discoveries on this weblog, I hope to share some of these with other expatriate Finns, artists and everyone interested in this multicultural world. Maybe even my children will learn more about their heritage. For me, it is fascinating to find the connections in our cultures and history.

The KALEVALA is Finland’s national epic. The first edition appeared in 1835, compiled and edited by Elias Lönnröt, who devoted many years travelling around Finland and Karelia collecting the ancient sung runes or poems. The Kalevala had a great impact in a growing Finnish nationalism, long suppressed by Swedish and Russian rule. It influenced many artists in Finland and abroad, such as Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha and J.R.R.Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

In the National Geographic News, we learn that a native of British Columbia, Canada, anthropologist and ethnobotanist Wade Davis traveled to a remote corner of Finland to uncover Tolkien influences among the ancient rune-singers of the Kalevala. It’s a fascinating story, worth reading!

ADDED March 4, 2004: about Elvish

and Nov.23, 2004: more about Elvish

Nexus VIII


Nexus VIII
Etching 76 x 92 cm.

Miksang and the art of perception

As a newcomer to blogging, my recent explorations have been through the immense jungle of blogs on the internet. Chandrasutra’s blog* is one of the interesting finds in this online journey. Particularly fascinating is an item about Miksang photography in the art category, Jan. 13th entry. This is a partial quote:

The inspiration for Miksang images is very different than traditional approaches to photography. You do not, for example, spend time ‘thinking’ about what you will photograph or go off into your day with a ‘plan’ about what you will photograph. You don’t “compose” the photo in anyway. It’s about looking but not looking ‘for’ but looking in. Experiencing, rather than thinking, about the world around you and being alive to all the textures, surfaces, colours. There is an avoidance of that which is narrative or relates to a generated thought. It is actually not simply a form of photography but part of a practice of contemporary Buddhist meditation. Miksang translates as “Good Eye” in Tibetan.

According to Toronto’s Society for Contemplative Photography, Miksang involves “the synchronization of eye and mind. When eye and mind are in the same place the moment by moment vividness of the visual world manifests and is appreciated fully. This manifestation is spontaneous – a flash of perception – the ordinary magic of the phenomenal world. When one connects with pure perception there is no struggle in making a heartfelt and brilliant photographic image that one can share with others […]. These moments of pure perception and appreciation happen all the time but we often ignore and devalue them. However, it is worthwhile to recognize and cultivate these moments because they recollect the inherent openness and goodness of our being.

What a lovely name for this vivid experience that all visual artists at some points have felt, not just in photography. Thanks, Chandrasutra!

*Update Dec.14, 2013: Sadly, this blog is no longer in existence.

A Europe of Tales

This is a fascinating Internet-based programme featuring five series of tales and legends from different parts of Europe. The interactive site presents 18 stories with the means of contemporary multimedia, boldly combining art and science, the mythical tales of history and modern means of presentation. The tales are aimed at an audience of children and young people as a body of educational materials, but they also offer unique adventures to individual users of the Net. A Europe of Tales has been produced in eight languages: Finnish, Swedish, English, Gaelic, French, Breton, Icelandic and Italian.

Krakow Triennial exhibition in Oldenburg, Germany

I have just received word from Krakow, Poland that some of my prints* will be in an exhibition at the Horst Janssen Museum in Oldenburg, Germany, opening March 14, 2004 until June 13, 2004.

Apart from its main programme, the Cracow 2003 Print Triennial, the organizers arrange plenty of exhibitions in Poland and abroad for the triennial’s participating artists.

Addendum April 5/04: * Some family members went to see this exhibition and were very impressed. My works selected for this show are Nexus IX and Nexus X. More about the exhibition at Oldenburg.

A photogravure exhibition: Steven Dixon

Steven Dixon, one of the three artists in our Traces exhibition in Finland, is having an exhibition of his photogravures opening at the SNAP Gallery. This is a gallery run by the Society of North Alberta Print-Artists in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

(My “Meta-Morphosis” series of prints was on exhibition at the SNAP in 1999.)

UPDATE: More of Steven’s work may be viewed at Herringer Kiss Gallery in Calgary.

Nexus/Blue V (Venus de Willendorf)


Nexus/Blue V (Venus de Willendorf)
(inkjet on 60 x 80 cm. paper)

Rock art research

In my research into the history and art of my ancestors, a wealth of information has come from Loit Joekalda of Estonia. He believes the best researcher of the rock art of the Fenno-Ugrians is Väinö Poikalainen, chair of the Estonian Society of Prehistoric Art**, of Tarto, Estonia. The society publishes papers on rock art and folklore to Folklore.

Poikalainen wrote a book review about KALLIOKUVAT KERTOVAT (Pictures on rock are telling) by Pekka Kivikäs (Atena kustannnus oy, 2000. 124 pp. In Finnish.) He writes:

The art teacher Pekka Kivikäs has become well-known for his work as an active documenter and publisher of Finnish rock paintings… the book is aimed at the wide circle of readers interested in the ancient culture of Finno-Ugric regions…Kivikäs considers rock art the silent message of man from behind the thousands of years, to perceive which one needs to relax, listen and see. When we loose the ability to do this, we also loose[sic] the possibility to perceive those near us and our environment.

Folklore has also printed an article by Kivik&#228s (PDF) on the subject.
UPDATE: March 21.05 **link no longer active


Continuing the story about our travels in conjuction with our Traces exhibition in Vaasa

Leaving Helsinki, a fast ferry ride across the Gulf of Finland took us to Tallinn, Estonia with its fascinating medieval walled old town, surrounded by a busy city rapidly catching up with the west after the Soviet collapse.

We met award-winning printmakers Virge and Loit Joekalda, who gave us a grand tour of the studios of the Association of Estonian Printmakers, and the Estonian Academy of Arts, as well as their own studio and several galleries and exhibitions.

Loit had just installed his exhibition of frottages and photos from his expeditions to sites of rock art by Fenno-Ugrians in Karelia. Seeing this work was, for me, a totally unexpected, mind-blowing and breathtaking experience! For some years I have been fascinated by this subject, and here was an artist, a kindred spirit, who had actually been to these sites! Loit is a very active member of the Estonian Society of Prehistoric Art** and the Fenno-Ugria Foundation.

Virge has exhibited and won awards in a great number of international print exhibitions, as well as travelled to many places. To see her work, visit Kunstikeskus, available for viewing for a little while. We felt extremely honoured to have met and become friends with this exciting couple!

UPDATE: March 21.05 **link is no longer working, unfortunately