There is a saying here in Finland that the Finnish summer is short and with only little snow. Today it seems definitely so. A glimpse to the weather forecast says that it will remain so for some time. A glimpse outside the window totals to a white ground, windswept garden furniture and at least one fallen tree. Temperatures not rising above +10C, with the quiet whisper of ‘feels like +2’. Perfect day for writing.
Yesterday I was reading through the names of the Twitter lists I’ve been added to during these years I’ve been tweeting and I must say that I will most definitely go back when I’m having one of those days when nothing seems to work. For a self-taught photographer and a non-native English-speaker being included in ‘Visionary Visual Artists’ and ‘Superb Writers’ is the best encouragement I could wish for. I have been so busy for a couple of years with teaching and developing elearning that I haven’t had time to catch up on art. I feel that I have been deprived of something very important to me. This summer I seem to have extra time and I’ve enjoyed enormously the void left for creative thought. I’m most grateful for everyone who have supported me all these years.
I started my vacation with a visit to Ateneum, the mecca of Finnish Art. I have been looking forward to seeing their Tove Jansson exhibition and it really was worth the wait. She was such an amazing artist with immense talent, humor and eccentricity. The exhibition included drawings, sketches, photographs, paintings from many decades and even her father’s scuptures. I wrote about her local summer place in my post The Birds Were Here First. Since then I have learned more about her, for example that whenever there was a strong wind and they couldn’t land on her island, she didn’t hesitate to jump off the boat and swim the rest of the way. Tove’s art is versatile and full of humor. You should see the political cartoons she drew when she around the time of the war, with Hitler in diapers. There was no fear in her drawings, instead they were full of spite and ridicule towards the war-minded, and they were so captivatingly executed in style. One day Tove didn’t return to her beloved island anymore, and she has said it was because she had become afraid of the sea. The sea which she had always loved more than anything. I can’t help wondering whether that is the moment when we start dying when our loves turn into fears, which ever being the cause to the other. Tove had cancer and must have been already weak at the time they left Klovharu.
Another great culture event last week for me was a concert I decided to attend. A friend of mine plays the violin for Trio La Rue and she invited me. They played French classics like Debussy and Saint-Saëns (listen on Spotify) and and read excerpts from works of Marcel Proust in an event that was named after the novel In Search of the Lost Time. The concert was just one event in the Aino Ackté festival that is organized in Helsinki every year. Aino Ackté was a world famous soprano, one of the founders of Finnish Opera and the founder of the very popular Savonlinna Opera Festival. The music was divine, and the story perfectly completed by the thoughts of Proust. Ever since I have been immersed into his allegories about painting, writing and music. I have also been painting, not out of ambition, but merely out of curiosity, and I also find the creative processes very similar in these art forms, and also with fine art photography. First there is the need to create. Curiosity to dare to throw yourself into something that you can’t completely control or predict. Empty canvas, empty paper, no sound, no image, no story.
You pick a color or words or tunes or something to photograph and you just have to believe in what you are doing even though the color reminded you of an ultra-worn undershirt or the words random and meaningless, or the surroundings uninspiring at first glance. At some point there comes the moment when you have to do or decide something you know you can’t change afterwards, the final accent line on an otherwise finished image, the title for your piece of writing, the climax for your story, or the image your trying to capture, and with the steady hand you just have to pull it through. For a while you struggle with collecting all the lose ends, blurring the sharp edges, organizing the lost parts, trying to make everyone see what you created as a whole instead of individual details. In the end you are amazed and amused by all the roads you had to take to come where you are. The process is almost like a story in itself. Or at least one could make it to a story. Like a lifeline in a micro-scale.
The best part of my life are these timeless summers. Snow or sunshine, as long as there is time for creative thought. I hope you will have a chance to do that also. Happy creating!