Posts Tagged ‘culture


267/2011 celebrating transformation

The title is the name for a storytelling festival taking place this week. Tonight I attended a Scandinavian storytelling contest. All the five Scandinavian languages were represented, and it was fun to try and get the story, without actually understanding many of the words. I can just about follow Swedish but Norwegian, Icelandic, and especially Danish are hard, almost impossible for me.

The venue was an old bar in town, with these multicoloured retro lamps. Good setting for the colourful, multilingual event!


231/2011 culture by the riverside

231/2011 culture by the riverside, originally uploaded by rosipaw.

Another great evening of art and culture by the riverside in our European capital of culture. Acrobatics inside glowing bubbles gliding on the water. Reminded me of the old British cult series – the Prisoner. “I am not a number, I am a free man!”


224/2011 save me!

224/2011 save me!, originally uploaded by rosipaw.

For a few weeks I’ve been spotting colourful seal statues around town. It is an environmental arts project, part of the European Capital of Culture year.

Artist Stefan Lindfors designed the fibre glass seal statue, and then they were given to 40 different artists to paint and decorate. Once completed, they were taken to different locations – in front of public buildings, in parks, in malls etc.

The purpose is to promote the protection of the Baltic Sea, where the seals have not been doing too well recently. Each seal is numbered, and has a little info board, drawing attention to what each individual could do to save the endangered sea environment. The statues will stay in place till the end of September when they will be auctioned, and the money, of course, will be donated to environmental causes.

Good idea but already some of these art pieces have been vandalised and ruined – most likely by irresponsible youngsters. So sad!

Here is my set of pictures of the different seals.


220/2011 ‘saunalab’

220/2011 ‘saunalab’, originally uploaded by rosipaw.

Quite an unusual art project – 4 tiny artsy saunas around the town, for about 4-5 people to rent at one time (you can’t fit any more in there). This yellow onion sauna stand next to the outdoor swimming where I do my water aerobics twice a week. Novel idea for the European culture capital – and very apt for Finland, the country that gave the word ‘sauna’ to the world!


050/2011 let the sunshine in

050/2011 let the sunshine in, originally uploaded by rosipaw.

Finally got to check the new LOGOMO stage of our Culture Capital, while watching the massive production of ‘Middle-Aged Hair’, with over 200 ordinary volunteer residents of our town. Looked as if many of them were taken right back to their youth by the familiar hippie tunes.

It was an interesting project, together with the Social Services and Health Care Department. They also did research into the effects of cultural activities on middle-aged people’s health, and the performers were given regular medical checks. Must have been a demanding, but wonderful adventure into self-expression!


049/2011 R.I.P. blue house

049/2011 RIP blue house, originally uploaded by rosipaw.

How becoming of the European Cultural Capital 2011. Despite protests, and plans how to save and relocate this culturally valuable ‘Blue House’ (built in 1902!) in the centre of our town – down it comes. Money talks, and before we know it, a nondescript concrete monster will be in its place. What a disgrace!


015/2011 the grand opening

015/2011 the grand opening, originally uploaded by rosipaw.

Turku has now officially opened its year of being one of the European Capitals of Culture. I’m afraid, some of my fears of what the year will have in store, materialised with the opening spectacle tonight. I’m sorry to say that it smacked of a huge media event, where all that counted was that it looked good on TV, but who could care less about the 50 000 people who turned up along the riversides, defying the biting cold of almost minus 20 degrees Celcius! Big screens were erected around the town for people to watch the live TV broadcast of a massive light, fire and sound show, by the group ‘Walk the Plank’ from England (why not domestic artists??). I had decided in advance not to even try to photograph any of the show, but to concentrate on seeing and experiencing it for real, without looking through the camera lens. In the end, I didn’t hear or see a lot, the area was simply too vast for the show make an impact on people standing further away. But the fireworks were spectacular! Just makes me wonder how many millions were shot up in the air with them, which could have been spent on improving the poor working conditions of many artists in our town.

But not to sound overly critical and negative, I did enjoy some of the ambience of the evening. Seeing thousands of people make their way along the riversides and across the ice, briskly and in a very determined manner because of the cold, was true evidence of our national charasteristic ‘sisu’ (guts, perseverance, endurance).

Hundreds of school children had been recruited to carry lanterns in processions, to bring light to the darkness, and to guide people to the spectacle area. I really enjoyed seeing them bundled up warmly, so earnest and serious, carrying out this special assignment.

But, once again, why on earth did willow branches of the frames have to be imported from England, to a country covered in forests!? I must say, though, that the lanterns did look nice in the dark night, and later on, hoisted up the masts of the old museum ship.

A special ‘River Aura symphony’ had been ‘composed’ for the occasion. It consisted of church bells in different parts of the town, and horns and sirens of boats moored along the riversides. Walking towards the opening venue, these totally unpredictable sounds and their echos on both sides of the river created quite a unique atmosphere. Experiencing this alone made it worthwhile leaving the cosy warmth of home, and freezing out there for a couple of hours.

All in all, I had quite a surreal feeling most of the evening, almost like being in a sci-fi movie. The unexpected sounds in the dark, the masses of people and bright lights of the spectacle made me expect a flying saucer to land any minute, a bit like in ‘Close Encounters’. But no aliens appeared – at least to my knowledge.

Ho hum! I’m glad I went although the very best moment of the evening was getting into the hot sauna waiting for us at home, and defrosting our fingers and toes!


004/2011 welcome to the european capital of culture 2011!

This is the talk of the town – has been most of last year (links to some articles in the international press below), and especially now as we are waiting for the official opening on the 14-15 January. Together with Tallinn in Estonia, my town Turku will have the privilege to promote itself in Europe, and globally. Since 1985, over 40 European cities have held this title, given by the Commission of the European Union. It allows the chosen capitals to develop and regenerate their cultural image, as well as make them more visible internationally, and hopefully attract tourists and investors.

I just hope that the millions of euros invested in the project won’t mostly be blown up in the air in massive firework displays and other pomp and circumstance. Personally, I am mostly looking forward to small, surprising and innovative grassroots events.

One such piece of art appeared on a pavement on New Year’s Eve, actually right in front of the office of the Cultural Capital Year.

It’s a colourful, wooden statue of a workman sharpening his axe. There is a lever with which you can move the guy’s hands plus a guestbook to sign. At first, everybody thought that this was part of the launch of the Culture Capital Year, until it was discovered that it was the tongue-in-cheek protest of a Spanish trubadour and artist, now settled in Turku. Hence the Spanish New Year’s greeting, too! He is known for expressing his opinion about culture by putting different axes on pieces of art around the country.

We may be in for an interesting year!

Turku official website in English

Article in the New York Times

Article in the Guardian

Article in the Independent

Article in the Monocle magazine


#320 incredible india

320/365 incredible india, originally uploaded by rosipaw.

India is fascinating, slightly scary, certainly challenging for me, coming from a quiet, scarcely-populated northern European country. It attacks all your senses at once – the heat, the smells, the never-ending chaos around you, the hot and spicy food, the constantly hooting cars, and screeching noises of traffic, on top of ubiquitous pounding music, and then the colours and glitter that most Scandinavians would probably find too gaudy.

I enjoyed all of the sentiments of culture shock in India, and I am more than willing to go back there for another visit any time. Yet, although I could imagine living in many strange places in the world, I don’t think I would ever want to settle in India for a longer period of time. The Thousand and one Nights fairy tale land on one hand, and utter and unimaginable poverty on the other, is just too much contrast for me.


#255 good morning!

254/365 good morning!, originally uploaded by rosipaw.

A change in routine. Rather than waiting till later in the day to think about my daily picture, I took one first thing in the morning – a rather mundane picture of my breakfast.

I’ve been planning to take this picture for 3 months, after seeing my flickr buddy @katerha’s take. It’s interesting how similar the boxes of oat flakes are. The colouring, and even the style of the pictures resemble each other – a smiling person, in old-fashioned clothing. The picture of the young, Finnish girl in a national costume is a symbol of innocence, honesty, authenticity, vitality and tradition. It has become almost a national icon. I wonder if it’s the same with the quaker guy?


November 2020

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