Hard to believe that this is my last posting from KulttuuriKauppila – I leave on Wednesday 28 April and travel to Imatra to give a talk at Saimia and then onto Helsinki for the 1st May weekend celebrations which I’m told are a big thing in Finland – hey a bit of city excitement…! After that on 4 May I give a talk at Verkatehdas in Hameenlinna then the following day I leave Finland – a country I have come to know and love but of course I will be back to visit. It has been a remarkable four months and I will miss everyone at KulttuuriKauppila. Their kindness has made the residency very special and given me a sense of home, here in Ii. All that’s left to say is a BIG thank you to KulttuuriKauppila and to everyone who has supported me including all your comments and emails.
Sunday 25 April 2010
Meidan Talo extended to 10.5.2010
The last two or three weeks have been very busy with putting the show up, showing groups around (including The Head of Finnish Arts Council, Esa Rantanen who was attending Suomen Residenssien Tapaaminen, Osallistujalista – Arts Residency Forum reported by YLE radio). Also had the local newspaper Rantapohja’ come and interview me. Plus a long interview wiith the magazine Meidan Talo. The exhibition has now been extended to coincide with the May edition of Meidan Talo coming out. For me this feature in Meidan Talo completes the art piece Meidan Talo, as it is where the work began. ‘Full circle’ as a friend Fiona observed. The exhibition opening was great with lots of fizz, flowers, cards and presents – I was very touched. It has all been fantastic and I am very pleased with how it’s gone.
The other big event was the 360 seminar Kuvataidepaivat Oulussa about Art and Architecture at Lasaretti Hotelli for Oulu Museum of Art where I gave a talk to a conference of two hundred people. The title of my presentation was ‘Sites of Well Being’ and it was the story of CARAVAN (a previous artwork - see website) and the development of Meidan Talo. The outline of the talk is on the ‘Talks & Courses’ page of this blog.
Wednesday 7 April 2010
Meidan Talo 17-29.4.2010 at KulttuuriKauppila, Kauppilantie 15, Ii
Opening 16.4 at 18.00
Meidan Talo is an exhibition by artist in residence Veronica Slater who lives and works on the Isle of Mull in Scotland. The title of the exhibition is taken from a popular home making magazine in Finland called Meidan Talo (Our House) that features a range of topics such as interior design, DIY, house sales and prefabricated homes. It is from this magazine that Slater has montaged houses and household goods onto tar and paint fragments which she has formed in the studio.
The tar has enormous significance to the area of Ii and Oulu as it is a natural resource extracted from the trees in surrounding forests. It was used in the construction of wooden ships from the 16th century and exported to all over Europe and beyond. It created wealth and built the grand houses of Oulu whilst creating the municipalities of this part of Finland.
Slater has sealed these tar and paint fragments against enamel surfaces that have spray painted patterns from the lace that adorns many Finnish windows. Through this domestic decorative the viewer enters the great vistas of a strange wilderness that the tar and paint create. Within these ‘fairytale’ islands sit houses that inhabit their own worlds providing a homely refuge from the fears of the unknown.
In Finland ‘Home’ is at the heart of everything in the long dark winter and has a very particular place in the Finnish psyche. Slater’s four month residency witnessed the coldest winter and the most snow for years. In observing the surrounding houses within this frozen wilderness, the artist realised her own restless quest for a state of mind called home that is Meidan Talo.
The artist would like to thank Hanne and all the children who bought her lace, exquisite Finnish wallpaper and a stock of Meidan Talos that all contributed to being part of the work plus to everyone at Kulttuurikauppila for their hard work and kindness in making her residency such a special experience.
The snow is thawing as I write this post and unlike other occasions when I’ve thought spring is not far away and then it snows for three days, I really believe the season is changing now.
I walked with friends; Vanessa and Laura who were visiting, through the old village and melting snow produced a cacophony of sound that accompanied the eerie spectacle of black shovelled mountains on every street corner. For the last few days there has been a white fog that has hung in the air and it is much warmer and damper which perversely feels colder….anyway I’m glad its not sunny as I spend my last week in the studio before the exhibition opens Friday week.
The work has a momentum of its own now as I realise what its about and where its going. It seems so glaringly obvious but hindsight is a great thing and often you can’t grasp what is so immediate in the present. Meidan Talo encapsulates an intense frozen moment of a need for ‘home’ a constant place where I am safe. When I was growing up home was never calm or predictable and perhaps this is the truth of the matter; I had to make a home in my head. I took refuge through absorbing myself in worlds created in drawings and paintings - this is what I still do years on. Meidan Talo (Our House) has perhaps materialised a realisation, as my friend Lee so astutely observed when seeing the work, that home is a state of mind.
Arranging and re-arranging Meidan Talo combinations will pre-occupy me for the next few days as I work out which pieces fit together. The wallpaper, household objects, lace, tar and paint all connect in their various forms and its like a puzzle that never has any one outcome.
It seems to me that sentimentality and nostalgia are a currency of the domestic decorative which provides a fantasy of a familial condition we can’t let go of. Maybe this is why so much household detritus feeds through my current work. The wallpapered CARAVAN was a transient space that absorbed paint and ornaments. It created another world that I could inhabit and in the last shot of its home movie is the open door with ‘home’ scrawled across it. Why I should be so surprised at these crystal clear connections is perhaps an indication of what is often staring you in the face, is the reality you can’t see. This may seem a terrible admission for an artist to make but I think Daniel Richter’s quote "Beauty through confusion and truth through collision" describes the haphazard state of discovery.