Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Martin and Vivi-Mari at the Hanko Art Society Summer Exhibition 2010
My latest thoughts on how I'd like to develop my art is that I want to merge my photography with my collages. I will increase the use of the technology at hand and print images on the laser printer I got last spring. In order to pursue my ideas to the fullest I do however need a new scanner (the cheaper ones are nowadays absolute crap because they try and make them thin) as well as a large format ink jet printer. 

I will continue to pursue social possibly criticism and commentary. Art wise, it seems to me that collages have a tendency of being the medium for social and political commentaries, perhaps because artists often find material in newspapers and magazines, and the allusions to existing or historical political personalities can be made obvious. Recently, vintage collaging and scrap booking has become a popular craft not to be mistaken for art, as imagery is often stereotyped and lacking in any deeper meaning or purpose beyond being "pretty". See political and social collages here.

I was in surgery for the removal of a umbilical hernia last week and am not feeling to good. I'm having to postpone starting the collages I have in mind. I'm in a hurry to get going. One of them is aimed at the MOMA Wales open exhibition next summer, the theme being "movement". It's inspired by the (dreaded!) olympics but doesn't have to conform to the subject of sports. I have an idea which is meant to illustrate dysfunctional childhood... another idea I have is to illustrate what is really wrong with me in a very direct way, in the form of a piece of art. I decided that I could do that if I make sure only the right kind of audience will see it. The point is, it's not always easy for me to quickly sum up the health problems and other social challenges I've always struggled with, and it might be a good thing to just point at the artwork. 

I'm excited to be interacting with the Arts Council, as I found out through networking that there is a programme for artists who are in some way disadvantaged. It's quite ironic that I've spent my whole life trying to cover up the fact that I have so many health issues and can't function on the level of "normal" people, and now I have to unravel it all! For instance, I've heard people say that looking at my CV and the quality of my work, I seem very prolific and professional in my approach. I've had lots of exhibitions and so forth. 

What is not so obvious at first glance, is that I have been doing this for a long time (undisturbed by working life or children for the most part), and that the exhibitions started to be further apart as I got older. I pushed myself a lot when I was younger, had to literally carry my own artwork a lot of the time (as I didn't have a car nor knew anybody who had one), and only occasionally I had some help (which was usually by my mother). It just got too difficult as time went by and I was less able to whip myself into action. I've only had two grants, both of which came to me fairly easily and really due to family connections. I never had the energy to seek bigger grants, and when I did try for smaller ones a couple of times it became obvious that I didn't know quite what to ask for and how to state my case. I also felt that what I had to say was not very interesting to the authorities, who were often incredibly snotty people. Thanks to the first grant I had an exhibition in a commercial art gallery in central Helsinki, but after that I've shown in all sorts of places (libraries, cafes, culture centres) that didn't cost anything or asked for some art in return. 

I did quite well in the 1990s, as my world was appreciated by the audiences in Southern Finland. But after the turn of this Century things got more and more difficult. The reasons were that I was very preoccupied by relationship issues, that I didn't have a clear direction (I felt I had said it all, already), that I had trouble drawing and painting by hand, and that I didn't have the energy or the help to set up many meaningful exhibitions. On top of that the art market was going down. In fact I was about to give it all up when I met Martin. He has the motivation, ability to focus, and physical strength to help me. Yet I cannot rely on him alone, as he has to develop his own art and try and market it. 

Arriving in Wales was very daunting, as I was suddenly anonymous. How was I going to reinstate a career in the arts when I really don't have a lot of extra energy to spend? Luckily, I do have a track record, and hopefully things will sort themselves out gradually. In spite of feeling quite bewildered, I try and flip the coin as often as possible and see all the opportunities rather than all the competition. As a result of my relocation I've had to do lots of inner work and reinvent myself a little. You get so shaken up that elements of your inner self start floating around like debris in water, only to settle in new places. Decisions about sticking with the arts and focusing my vision have been made - now all I need to do is put it all in practice at my own pace, and hope the money and mentors comes to support my endeavours. I also have some more creative freedom thanks to digital aid (I have a colour laser printer for instance, purchased when we had a bit of money). Similar processes are going on with Martin, who seems to finally be getting somewhere. He's now having a much sharper approach to his own artistic expression, and is in the process of communicating with funders about it. It's looking up!

Some more photos from my studio:

"Archangel Michael", artwork by Finnish-Swedish artist Ester Helenius (1875-1955) in the background.

"Russian Revolutionary Art", a little booklet from way back in time in the background
This costume drawing for my grandmother by the famous Platonov is casually stuck behind this frame,
it will be properly framed one day...

No comments:

Post a Comment