Tagged: Finland

Dame of the Day: Tove Jansson

Tove Jansson

Today’s Dame of the Day is Tove Jansson (August 9, 1914 – June 27, 2001). This author, illustrator, and cartoonist started writing stories at the age of 14. After World War II, Jansson developed Moomin, a classic book series celebrated across Sweden and around the world. Jansson received the Hans Christian Anderson Award for the series and her characters have their own museum.

Schoolin’ Life: Vilma Metteri

In today’s Schoolin’ Life, we chat with the other half of Finnish artist duo Tärähtäneet Ämmät, Vilma Metteri.

vilma

 

Give us a quick bio: who are you, what are you into, and how do you spend your days?

  • Vilma Metteri, 37 year old artist, living in Helsinki, Finland
  • Mother of a 12 year old son
  • Playful and kind spirit
  • Urge to observe and analyze the world around
  • Working every day with my best friend and colleague, Katriina

When you were in your 20s…

What expectations did you have for yourself over the coming decade?

When I was 20, I was studying to be an artist doing many transboundary art projects, and I expected to keep on painting at night and living my life as it came. I guess I didn’t make any long-term plans for the future; neither did I have many dreams. Life was happening to me, and I believed the best way to enjoy it was to react to possibilities that arose.

In what ways did society shape your expectations of yourself?

Looking people in the eye was something I learned at a young age. I found my way through social environments by being smart, easy-going and adaptable; I stood tall and was not afraid of facing challenges. It was always easy for me to see the reasons behind an individual’s behavior, to stay calm and not get irritated. That gave me a certain feeling of being in control in situations without having to do much. One might say it’s a form of laziness. After collaborating with Katriina, I learned the power of setting up goals and working to get there. I believe that you can get anywhere by stealing and combining the best parts from different socio-economical groups’ approaches and their inner norms and standards.

What was your first job like?

I always loved children and got paid for taking care of them. At the time, I was also drawing birthday cards for relatives.

Did you experience any big life changes?

I went through many longer phases in life with different energy levels, but also experienced more sudden life-changing happenings. Becoming a mother was one of the most influential moments. Sharing the responsibility of caring for sick loved ones totally changed the way I thought about life. I learned to appreciate the present moment, to always try to be kind, to show my love and to enjoy life now.

In what ways did your friendships change?

Being best friends with Katriina provides a state of mind where I feel total trust and support. It is a great feeling to know that someone sees you as you are, with your strengths and weaknesses, and still wants to share the world with you. Laughing and finding the bright side of life with a friend is the best there can be.

What did you learn through your romantic relationships?

I have learned to respect surrendering to love, being patient and vulnerable and not holding back. I have also learned to discover my own needs and wills and communicate them.

How did your relationships with your family change?

As the oldest child, I learned to take care of others and show my love through baking and cleaning.  I still like to pamper my family members, but I have learned that I can also be present by just doing nothing.

How do you feel you changed emotionally?

I try to be more honest with myself and teach that skill to my son. If I ever get angry, I celebrate that aloud!

How did you change intellectually?

My view of the world has been quite much the same for a long time, but reading and having conversations every day taught me to combine different levels of the world into a vivid fusion of understanding humanity.

How did your worldview change over the course of the decade?

I started to believe in dreaming! I also started to think more collectively.

What was the most embarrassing moment?

Can’t remember anything.

What was your biggest disappointment and how did that affect you later?

I am trying constantly to develop my weaknesses, and it seems I can’t totally beat them. I have learned to be more accepting of myself.

Who was your biggest influence and why?

I enjoy learning in every moment from my friends and colleagues. Specifically, I am learning better, more efficient ways of thinking and acting politically and understanding the world more clear and critical way. There is a massive need to interpret and influence what is happening around us!

Do you have any regrets? Are there things you wish you’d done, hadn’t done, or done differently?

I only wish I would have more concentration to be at my very best! I wish this for both my work and my personal life.

Is there a story that you feel best sums up the decade?

“Elämän paskalaari” / “The Trash Bin of Life” It means you will walk to the supermarket with a few coins in your pocket. Suddenly, life offers you surprises in the discount section: maybe some food just about to get old and you buy what is there. You can feel happy about the cheap price of the food, the feeling of surprise, and the idea of saving food from being dumped; you can view this whole action as part of the game in which we live.

 

Schoolin’ Life: Katriina Haikala

For today’s edition of Schoolin’ Life, we check in with one half of Finnish artist duo Tärähtäneet Ämmät, Katriina Haikala.

Katriina

Give us a quick bio: who are you, what are you into, and how do you spend your days?

37-years-old artist Katriina Haikala from Helsinki, Finland; mother of two teenage boys; loves dancing and bad jokes; spends her days thinking about reason of everything and always comes to the same conclusion: “Love is the answer”; collaborating with artist Vilma Metteri since 2007.

When you were in your 20s…

What expectations did you have for yourself over the coming decade?

When I was 12 years old, I had already decided to be an artist when I grew up. After having my children, my dreams changed for a moment – I started to strive for a steady 8 to 4 job. After 10 years, I realized that the decisions I made during those years were in total contradiction with my goal to have stability. I’m a full-time artist now and, as one might know, being an artist is anything but predictable.

In what ways did society shape your expectations of yourself?

I’m really lucky that I was raised in a family that never put any expectations on me because of my gender. My father taught me the same things as my brother and always trusted my skills. My mom is the most open-minded person I know. She has been nothing but supportive with the decisions I have made in my life. It was when I became a mother that I woke up to the expectations of society. Everybody had an opinion about “the good mother” and how mothers are expected to behave. I felt that I could not fit into the box they put me in. Actually, at that time, I met Vilma – my best friend and colleague – and she had the same notions about the society’s expectations. That’s the origin of our collaboration.

What was your first job like?

I babysat my cousins for a summer. During that summer, I learned that love is the ultimate weapon. When the two-year old had some difficulties in finishing his lunch and I told him to finish his plate, he threatened me: “Katriina I will not love you anymore if I need to eat this!”

Did you experience any big life changes?

Here’s a list:

  • becoming a mom
  • death of my father (and several others too)
  • getting divorced
  • and getting divorced again

What did you learn through your romantic relationships?

I learned that the truth lies in emotions. First comes emotion and then the reasoning follows. Love can be destructive or coherent, but it’s the only emotion that can be born as surprisingly as it can also die. I’ve been married twice and divorced twice and never regretted anything.

How do you feel society viewed you?

I feel that I’ve been viewed in many ways depending of the context. I’ve been categorized by my looks and gender both in negative and positive ways, but I think that that’s the case with everybody. For the past few years, I have been getting so much support from the audience, people around me and Vilma; others are getting inspired by us. It is really wonderful to see that our work and our methods of working are giving positive energy to people!

How do you feel you changed emotionally?

I’m really direct and sensitive at the same time – but the sensitivity is something that has come more dominant throughout the years.

How did you change intellectually?

Never underestimate the experience of life.

In what ways do you feel your identity changed?

From a cheeky young adult to cheeky middle-aged woman.

How did your worldview change over the course of the decade?

I have realized that people are really simple in their needs. All you need in order to be content is someone who loves you (in its wide meaning; I’m not talking only about the romantic way of loving), someone to whom you can give love and something to do that gives you pleasure.

What was the most embarrassing moment?

Farting while sleeping at a rush hour train and talking to a mass of people with my fly open.

What was your biggest disappointment and how did that affect you later?

Life seems to be a row of small disappointments and successes. They keep me going.

Who was your biggest influence and why?

The worst teachers at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki were the most inspiring. I will never become like them. I swear.

Do you have any regrets? Are there things you wish you’d done, hadn’t done, or done differently?

Regret doesn’t play a role in my life, but learning from my mistakes does.

Is there a story that you feel best sums up the decade?

Story of the last decade (and I hope for the decade to come): starting something from somewhere and ending somewhere that is just another starting point.

Schoolin’ Life: Aurora Reinhard

For today’s Schoolin’ Life, we check in with the inventive artist Aurora Reinhard.  If you haven’t seen her photographs and video, now is the time.

aurora reinhard

 

What expectations did you have for yourself over the coming decade?

I must say I don’t remember… to survive as a full-time visual artist?

 

In what ways did society shape your expectations of yourself?

I don’t remember.

 

What was your first job like?

After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki, Finland, I landed a summer job as a photographer at the national women’s magazine. Without any editorial experience, it was a hard summer but I learned a lot.

 

What was your first apartment like?

I consider my first apartment the studio I bought last year. I fully renovated it according to my dreams (the affordable ones, anyway). It’s a cozy 5th floor apartment in a lively suburb; I’m a 15 minute train ride from the city center of Helsinki. It has a balcony and a bath tub, which were both musts for me. Ever since I was very young, I dreamed of buying my own place.

 

Did you experience any big life changes?

Things just seem to be slowly morphing, and suddenly you realize you’ve traveled a quite long way from that young girl who started studying in 1995. I thought that when I graduated, I would be doing my art and living off social benefits; yet it happened that I supported myself ever since graduation, which is amazing to think about. (It might be hard to understand for a U.S citizen but this is, or used to be, a social democratic society)

 

In what ways did your friendships change?

I value them more, since I realized that true friendships can not be taken for granted.

 

What did you learn through your romantic relationships?

I learned so much; another person can be a window to another reality.

 

What was your biggest disappointment and how did that affect you later?

When I understood my limitations as an artist, that was a huge disappointment. But I’ve grown to accept myself for who I am. I’m trying to take advantage of the strengths in my character and compensate for the weaknesses.

 

Who was your biggest influence and why?

I guess there were many artists that impacted my work. But in the beginning of my studies, I learned about the Finnish artist Teemu Mäki and I must say that he was a big influence. I felt really strongly when I saw his work and I realized that that’s how it should be. I realized I wanted to create works that create a strong emotion, not just a lame “nice”.

 

Is there any one experience that you feel defined the decade? Or one historical moment that changed you?

It was the moment when you realize that all you got is your bare hands and you have to settle with them, make your own life and forget about your past, childhood traumas, etc. You cannot blame anyone else for your own mistakes.

 

Do you have any regrets? Are there things you wish you’d done, hadn’t done, or done differently?

I think one cannot regret anything. If something wasn’t a triumph, I try to think what I learned from it.