Anderdalen National Park, on the island of Senja, Norway.
This is the second of the wood engravings I have made in Fiskars, Finland. A group of nearby lakes forms the shape of an eye on the map, and is my favourite area to go walking. On my first visit there I was entranced by the light shinning behind this little tree filled islet. Placing the image in the centre of this elliptical block of apple wood, the whole image has become rather eye-like.
I also posted a photo of this little island a while back on Four Feet, our blog about the Fiskars Residency.
After some initial trouble getting hold of some suitable ink, I’ve finally been getting into some printmaking. First off I edditioned this small engraving I did on some apple wood left by the previous artist in residence. By traditional criteria, the apple turned out not to be ideal for engraving. While it is reasonably hard, the grain is certainly not uniform, with rings of softer wood containing minute pits. Perhaps this is the rapid spring growth. The end result though, is quite pleasing. The pits are just big enough to show up as lighter rings in the print, but not so much as to overly distract from the image, and I had made sure that the focal point of the image was at the centre f the growth rings so the two patterns would be working together rather than against each other.
Of course seeing how those growth rings show up, I also did some printing of other pieces that had been sanded smooth, but not yet engraved. I felt like turning these into something more than the simple cross section, even though that is nice, and they became a little text piece.
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 found this wallpaper while browsing in op shops in Karja. It’s got a nice old fashioned feel that seemed to fit Karja. I thought I was going to use the back for drawing on, but as you can see I’ve used the patterned side for this charcoal drawing of a small island in one of the lakes. After walking through the forest for some time to get there, I was surprised to see this small island was host to three or four summer houses (in the usual red and white colour scheme). It looked very idyllic indeed. I hope the drawing on wallpaper suggests the idea of cosy homeliness nestled into the landscape.