Thursday, January 19, 2017

Winter sunset

For several weeks now, the weather has been mostly grey. We’ve had so little snow, most of the time none at all, it hasn’t been able to brighten things up much. But we’ve seen a few passing moments of glow. Every once in a while when the cloud cover hasn’t been that complete and there’s been some hope of a sunset worth watching we’ve driven to the sea. This is how we found the views there one afternoon when we were really lucky.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Light festival 2017

A week ago, we took a short break in Helsinki. The original idea was to attend the annual Lux Helsinki light festival we missed last January. However, as the special anniversary of a friend of mine coincided with the event I persuaded her and her husband to join us for a proper little weekend holiday in the capital. We saw some great exhibitions well worth a blog post but let’s have a look at some of the highlight of the Lux Helsinki 2017 first.

This time, the event concentrated on a rather limited area around the Cathedral. The route started at the Market Square where the façades of the neoclassical buildings facing the square and the sea were lit in delightful bright colours. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the buildings looked something like this in the evenings all through the dark and cold season! You could almost imagine you were far away in the Mediterranean.

The white marble cube of a building also facing the Market Square by the sea is the head office of the forestry products company Stora Enso. An installation with animation and sound entitled ‘Cube’ was projected onto its façade nonstop. It was designed by a Finnish three-man group calling themselves Shader (Messr Tavi, Kunnari & Yliräisänen).

Another star attraction, probably the most popular one this season, entitled ‘Flowers of Life’ was installed in the inner courtyard of the University of Helsinki Topelia buildings where spotlights were cast on delicate web fabrics with colourful symmetric geometric patterns. The magical designs by the Flowers of Life collective looked different depending on the direction you saw them from. I am not happy with my photos but you will get the idea: a path leading through a small park with 70s hippie-like patterns hanging all around. Enchanting!

After zigzagging around the Cathedral for a while the route winded up at it. This time all four sides of the church were illuminated each with its own motif and style. The installation entitled ‘Domus 360° Four Homes’ was inspired by the idea of the home and that of the structures people build their existence on, their spiritual homes. The animation was designed by Tarja Ervasti and the sound by Willie Budsko. I am sure it was very well thought of and beautifully executed but, nevertheless, not as powerful as some installations seen on this site earlier. My posts on two of them here and here.

The Senate Square in front of the Cathedral is an ideal place for interactive installations requiring some space. There were two of those there this time. Visitors made Petri Tuhkanen’s ‘People Power’ come to life by stepping on the scales controlling it. The greater the weight the brighter the lights of the installation.

The ‘Light Pipes’ by Rölli Ridanpää and Tero Laine was built of copper pipes and light bulbs. Visitors could adjust the brightness of the lamps by turning the valves on the pipes. This installation was designed to demonstrate the diverse opportunities offered when living in a city. 

Diverse, indeed, to make a difference and to attend. Even a free urban art event in the middle of the darkest and coldest winter together with half a million fellow attendees in only five evenings in a city with a metropolitan population of no more than some 1.4M! Our desire for light certainly is limitless this time of the year. This must be not only the Lux Helsinki record but a world record of its kind! How about arranging a voluntary collection for a worthy charity on the side next time? If everyone donated, say, as little as 10 cents on the average that would already sum up to €50,000. What a difference that could make.

Below: Christmas lights in the Esplanade Park.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Daisy at New Year

On Sunday, when the potential of a great sunset was slowly fading away and as hubby had already had his daily walk, I headed downstream towards the harbour end of the river for a change. There are always strollers pacing the embankment by the Forum Marinum maritime centre but for once I had the Daisy sculpture in front of the museum practically to myself. (It is the medieval Turku Castle in the distance.)

The petals of the very realistic-looking flower are made of glass fibre with iron reinforcements. Its yellow centre is carved in wood and so are the little green bracts below the flower, I believe. The 25-meter-long stem resting against the ground is composed of 12 wooden structures each measuring almost a cubic metre.

The huge Daisy was designed and built by artists Jani Rättyä and Antti Stöckell for an environmental art event held in 2011 when Turku was, together with Tallinn, the European Capital of Culture. Although originally planned to be a temporary attraction it became such a popular piece it has been bringing joy to all passers-by, especially the young ones, ever since. 

If I could draw a cartoon I would take my character from this ice formation, with the spot on the cheek and all.

As I had my camera with me, I couldn’t help stopping by the Theatre Bridge to listen to the whispering and howling one more time. The snowless, partly wet ice cover painted the colourful views rather more spectacular than in my previous post, don’t you think? Temperate winter weather does have its advantages. Nevertheless, the decorations will be dismantled in a few days and everyone is more than ready for some snow the forecasts have been telling about recently. They have loads in Lapland. It is about time some of it came our way. I would welcome snow without the freezing cold temperatures, though.