Miniture sculpture by Edvin Oksman.Photo:Hannu Paju
Do It Yourself Lives
Finnish Contemporary Folk Art
On June 14, 2001, an extensive exposition of contemporary Finnish Folk Art was open to the public at the Helsinki City Art Museum’s Meilahti Galleries. Called DIY Lives, it presents works by some 50 contemporary folk artists from different parts of the country, including the Helsinki metropolitan area. The galleries and the park surrounding them are be filled with hundreds of works that are the fruit of highly original creativity, from a combine harvester bringing tidings of joy to the world’s smallest birch-bark shoes. Inside the gallery building, the folk artists are accompanied by nine top photographers who have documented the changing forms, trends and makers of Contemporary Folk Art.
There are a tremendous number of self-taught creative artists on the fringes of the established art world and outside it. Many of these painters and sculptors comment caustically on society and its public figures, others concentrate on nature and exotic animal life and some sculpt wood with exquisite craftsmanship. Materials are typically recycled, from used car tyres to iron ploughs and motorcycles to churns. The exhibition is alive with humour and incredible insight.
DIY Lives has been displayed in smaller form at Kaustinen, the Kajaani Art Museum and at the Lönnström Art Museum in Rauma. Launched and produced by the Union for Rural Education and the Folk Arts Centre, the project taps a continuous stream of new artists. This is why the exhibition in Helsinki is different from the preceding ones and comprises a larger number of works and artists. Artist Erkki Pirtola, the curator of the exhibition, has continued his expeditions around Finland to find new contributors to Helsinki DIY Lives. The photographers were selected by Veli Granö.
Abroad, Contemporary Folk Art (also known as Raw Art) has been studied and displayed in exhibitions extensively for some time, but in Finland it has not received much attention before the DIY project (ITE–itse tehty elämä in Finnish). An international conference that will look into the background of ”do-it-yourself art” will be held in conjunction with the exhibition in Helsinki. In addition, there will be many other activities and programme from workshops to meetings with artists. Numerous related events will also take place during Helsinki’s annual Night of the Arts.
The President of the Republic of Finland Ms Tarja Halonen is the exhibition’s patroness. She is depicted in many of the works shown in the exhibition.
Further information: Curator Erja Pusa, tel. +358-(0)9-310 87006, +358-(0)50-345 8541 / Educational Curator Kirsi Väkiparta tel. +358-(0)9-310 87007, +358-(0)50-336 1980 / Director for Cultural Affairs Liisa Heikkilä-Palo, Union for Rural Education, tel. +358-(0)9-751 2020 / press material: Press Secretary Karri Buchert, tel. +358-(0)9-310 87004, +358-(0)50-304 6707.