I’ve been loving all the colour of Nordic towns, set off by beautiful blue skies. These houses are in Tromsø, Norway.
This wonderful building is the village sauna. Sauna is an ancient custom in Finland and still very much an important part of the culture, and we were delighted to be given an invitation to take sauna recently. Even more so since the village sauna in Fiskars is rather special. It has been built by community members more recently than it’s appearance might suggest, but it is a very traditional type of sauna. It is a ‘smoke sauna’ which is heated by wood fires for up to six hours before use, after which no more wood is added but the sauna stays hot for many hours.
The sauna is in a beautiful location, just slightly out of the village on a small promontory that protrudes into a large lake. The lake of course being an essential element in the experience – to go from the heat of the sauna and then into the cool water of the lake. Apparently still the thing to do even in January when the lake is beginning to freeze over. I’m glad it’s June.
The sauna has three rooms. The first was a kind of dressing room, with benches around it’s sides and hooks to hang your clothes on, but it was so much more than a dressing room. There was also a table which when we arrived was laden with food being shared, and a small fireplace in the corner where people might sit for it’s warmth (though the whole room was quite cozy) or cook sausages. An iron candelabra with candles hung above the table to add to the fire’s warm glow. It was around midnight, so it was dim outside. The next room was for washing. There was a great tub of water heated by the fires, and tubs of cool water pumped from the lake. Then the third room under the peaked roof was the steam room. Quite dark, and filled with the rich aromas of wood and smoke, we gingerly clambered up the tiered benches to find an unoccupied place to sit. Someone nearest the great oven threw ladles of water onto it creating hissing bursts of steam. The whole evening was certainly one to remember and I was assured that no other sauna would be quite like this one, even in Finland.
I collected this new cone from a Norway Spruce tree (Picea abies) on the walk to Pohja, the next town. I knew it was Spruce, because Fiskars has a tree species trail with examples of all the common species of the area signed with numbers which correspond to a companion brochure, (in English, Finnish, and Swedish) so I’ve been trying to learn to recognise them all.
Sometimes the ex-botanist in me comes to the fore again, and I like to make drawings in a sciency mode – not that I have really followed the rules of proper scientific drawing, but the labels made with my new rubber stamp kit lend an air of formality. Interesting how closely the colour of the spruce cone matches the deep red of most of the timber buildings here in Fiskars, including all the houses.
This is my new home for the next month, the artist in residence house in the artist’s village of Fiskars in Finland. Yes Finland! I’ve just arrived and still feeling a little unsteady on my feet after the long flights etc, but keen to get out and explore what promises to be beautiful surroundings. In the meantime, have a look at www.onoma.org, our hosts the Artisans, Designers and Artists Cooperative of Fiskars.
What a wonderful word is Nattaginni! Just one little part of the remaining legacy of 40 000 years of culture in Australia. Unfortunately, these days the word is a largely stranded remnant of the culture the produced it, but I’m glad the word at least lives on. It lives on in the form of an alpaca farm of all things – Nattaginni Alpacas. I was commissioned to make an image of this charming building. Not the main house, but a second building on the farm, known as Nattaginni Cottage. It wasn’t just a commission though, I had my own reasons for spending the time on this image. The ‘client’ is a great mate, and I had enjoyed staying at Nattaginni on numerous occasions while he lived there in the cottage with his family. I worked from photographs he sent me for the cottage and it’s garden. I was keen to place the cottage in it’s broader environment, since it was so nice to spend time on the back verandah, watching the cows roam the green hills, flanked by Bunya peppered rainforest remnants as the tropical heat makes big white cumulus rise above the horizon. (Bunya – now there’s another good word.) Just as well I’d made some small sketches on one of those occasions, so I had that to refer to in order to create the background. I printed ‘Nattaginni Cottage’ at Megalo Print Studio on Kozo extra light paper from a commercial maple block.
It has been a while since I posted some ‘found art’. Much of what I include under this heading is possibly not really intended to be ‘art’, but then that is what I find interesting about it really. The fact that once you start looking, you will find evidence left all over the place of people’s creative acts. anonymous, spontaneous, not leading to material or financial benefits – embodying the true creative spirit. Of course sometimes you have to look a little outside the well worn places, but you don’t usually have to go far.
The substantial structure above can be found in Canberra Nature Park – a collection of small nature reserves strategically scattered within Canberra’s planned urban structure. Mostly they occupy the hills and ridges, and are crisscrossed by a dense network of tracks and trails. This structure has been built on one of the few hill tops not crossed by tracks, and only those exploring away from the paths would find it.
Megalo Print Studio + Gallery is planning an exciting exhibition titled Print Big, to be held in the (former) Kingston Fitter’s Workshop to coincide with Materiality, seventh national print symposium hosted by the National Gallery of Australia. This historically significant industrial building is currently totally empty and largely unused. Beyond this temporary exhibition (16-17th October), there are discussions underway for this building to soon be the new home for Megalo. I made a wood engraving of the fitter’s workshop, which Megalo is using on some of the promotional material for Print Big – a little tongue in cheek since this print is 5x6cm. Rest assured the prints on show in the Fitter’s Workshop will be at the other end of the spectrum at up to 4.8 meters so definitely not a show to miss if you are in Canberra in October.