Open call – Kristinestad, FINLAND August 2020: art, weaving and pottery
Kristinestad Artists’ Residency is a non-profit and artist/volunteer run programme in the idyllic wooden town of Kristinestad on the Finnish West coast. We are now inviting artists for a stay between 2 and 29 August 2020. Anyone wanting to make use of our weaving and pottery facilities is particularly welcome, but the programme is open to creatives of all art and craft disciplines.
If you are into nature, silence and slow living, this setting is for you. Resources and sources of inspiration also include vernacular architecture and traditional crafts. Looms, ceramics facilities, textile dyeing and lino cutting tools are available. Collaborations with the local community are possible, especially with schools. Exhibitions, shows, workshops etc. are encouraged.
We offer a variety of simple but comfortable accommodation options – mostly in traditional wooden buildings – and workspaces with wifi connection. Before and throughout the stay, residency hosts will be available for project research, linguistic assistance, finding materials and tools as well as establishing contacts locally. The residency fee is 600 Euro.
To apply, please send us an informal letter by email and tell us why you would like to come to Kristinestad and what you would like to do during your residency. We would like to hear from you by 15 March. The selection will be announced by 22 March.
Yes, Waaw*. In other words: Waaw Centre for Art and Design, the Artists’ Residence located in Saint-Louis, Senegal. This is a very short post to share with you a recentvideothat will briefly present what Waaw does. If you are more of a reader, you can also log on to Waaw’s homepage. Enjoy!
This is the camera that I work with these days. After having shot one roll of film my impression is that I am going to use it for portrait photography and close ups. I love the feel of this in my hand and everything in it is very much straight forward, which of course suits my character as a photographer. Looks like I will be carrying it with me a lot – a welcomed alternative to using the heavy DSLR. As it happens, for the moment the nearest place in which I may be able to have my films developed is in Mbacké, a two hour’s ride from Saint-Louis.. that means slow projects to say the least. But chances are good that soon there will be a photo lab in Saint-Louis as well, fingers crossed!
Songu daan koo is a project in which I want to focus on expressions of movement. The title comes from a song by the notorious Youssou N’Dour and Akon. I have very fond memories of this particular song and I am guessing that one day, when retired, I’ll be sitting in a rocking chair smoking pipe and as soon as I hear this song I will jump up and do some moves! That is, of course, if I should be lucky enough to rock in a chair in Senegal or anywhere warm under a shady tree rather than in some boring elderly people’s home where they will force us to do water colors every Thursday morning and prohibit smoking altogether. Oh, and come to think of it, how likely is it that elderly people in such institutions get to hear Youssou N’Dour? Or any music? I don’t really know those places… And there are no rocking chairs in Senegal either! Anyway this song reminds me of the gym I used to go to in Guet Ndar on the side of the town where a very dense fishing community lives. We would do fitness exercises in synchronized moves and formations and I was quite impressed how well everybody, men and women, exercised together and everybody, not just the coaches, encouraged each other to stay on the move and keep fit.
There is also one other reason why I’m getting myself accustomed to this camera. I will be using it on our upcoming “Analog Extreme” mobile art residence in February in Mauritania. A full ten days of walking in the vast emptiness, off the radar. The semi-nomadic camel herders will be the likely candidates to end up in my photographs. It’s time to brush up some Hassanya so that I can politely ask them whether a photo would be OK – I can quite conveniently start practicing in the local grocery store Xewel where I am a regular customer. During the trek I just might, in lack of subjects, end up taking photos of our traveling companions instead, which of course would be just as good. So we will be a bunch of artists with very little gadgets to carry with us and we’ll take photos of each other and desert landscapes. I love every part of this!
Let’s admit it, there is a somewhat oxymoron twist when you talk about going analog in a blog as you do need some digital gadgets to even read what I am writing here, but for those like-minded people out there who sometimes feel tired of screens and everything digital and who would like to shift from representation back to direct experience, there is an offline publisher called Analog Sea that prints books. The Analog Sea Review – An Offline Journal (Summer 2018) discusses these matters through interviews and various contributions by artists and I can fully recommend it! In order to receive a copy of their bulletin or ask in which independent bookshops to find their titles you can – naturally – write them a letter.
During the month of June four artists Hattori Eiko, Louisa Gifford, Martina Kändler and Chris Sperandio spent their time in the AiR program discovering the white nights of the summer in Kristinestad on the West coast of Finland. Kristinestad is a charming small town with colorful and old wooden housing and narrow streets. It has a maritime past and is a member of the Città Slow network and as such makes a fantastic setting for artists to dwell in and to dwell on.
This summer Finland has had a record dry and hot weather and we were lucky to start early in June before the heat wave attacked this corner of Europe. We were all rather busy either in town or out in the woods most of the month. On top of that on the menu there were exhibitions, the annual Open Gates and Gardens event that attracts thousands of people from the region, workshops for natural dyes or how to make comics, encounters with people curious about art, amazing collaborations with local cultural actors and associations.. you name it!
Martina kept herself busy also during nights as her project had a focus on the color of the sky. What better way to study the white nights! Her other project took her to visit numerous summer houses and their interiors and this project might bring her back to Kristinestad again in 2019. Fingers crossed! To an average Finn a summer house is something rather ordinary that has a lot of rituals to go by – everyone has memories of summer houses and it was usually a sign of growing up when all of a sudden you no longer wanted to spend your summer in the bush with your parents, no matter how picturesque the place! Louisa spent a lot of her time in the print workshop. Eiko, who works with fibers and geometrical shapes and patterns, experimented with natural dyes from nettles, flowers, bark, lichen and what not. My ambitious plan was to experiment with her on local plants for anthotype photography but circumstances were a little against me and I have to postpone these experiments until later. I even had spotted some delicious poppies in one garden.. next year then!
What’s the story with the piano? If you ever wondered how to get your head around the narrative when creating graphic novels, Chris had some very interesting tools to help you with. He taught a two-day workshop for anyone interested in how to make comics – according to him anybody can do it and he should know as his experience in teaching comics extends to decades. So, why is that piano on a desert island? Start your story with such an image and work your way backwards to the every beginning – it makes sense!
Chris Sperandio workshop
Chris Sperandio workshop
Looking back at Kristinestad I am just impressed by the welcoming attitude of the locals and how they helped each and every artist in their projects… to the point where we all were at times so busy that one month was barely enough to finish what we started. We also owe a very humble thank you to the local cultural secretary for making our program so easy to run, together with the local artists association Spectra. Based on such a positive experience we may want to run a new programme on both ends of the short Finnish summer in 2019 in June and in August.
At the time of writing this my batteries are again charged to the full and I am back in hot and humid Saint-Louis. It is now time to roll up my sleeves and get busy with some of my own projects before hosting new artists. On top of my photography and writing projects I will try to be a real blogger for once in the coming two or three months and come back with more frequent updates – no promises but I’ll do my best!
Three days in the Arctic Circle in the company of Midnight sun and an international crowd of people from the Res Artis network is a guarantee of rather little amount of sleep. I put the blame on the sun that never went down! The 25th anniversary meeting of Res Artis worldwide network gathered together AiR people from all corners of the world to discuss common challenges and future perspectives in the field of artist-in-residence programs. This year’s theme put the emphasis on art and development of environmental, cultural, economic and social sustainability with a rich palette of panel discussions, workshops and visits to local art venues.
I was positively surprised especially by panel discussions on the future of art, science and technology programs. These panels gathered together residency directors, artists, scholars and natural scientists to present some of the current dialogues and practices between and among (bio) art, science and technology. There are some very interesting networks and programs out there in the field! On the other hand, I was also rather amused by one of the presentations titled “Anticipating the Other” that addressed, for example, the important fact that AiR programs need to take into account their host culture and indigenous populations in all their diversity so that exchanges between all parties concerned happen in equal terms. Very true and I could not agree more. Yet, based on our programs that we have run for six years now in Saint-Louis I couldn’t help thinking back how in our case it is the international artist who turns into The Other as soon as s/he lands in the country. One of the challenges then is to cope with that and make things happen. And artists do succeed every time and that’s what keeps us going!
One other theme popped up in the discussions here and there stating that “The world is open.” Is it really? Well, of course it is to some. While listening to panel discussions I kept wondering about the absence of the global south in this international meeting: in addition to us there was just one participant from Cameroon. Why are southern cultural actors missing out this kind of networking events? Shouldn’t these get-together meetings take place sometimes in the South as well? I was not completely alone with these thoughts and I only wish there had been just a little bit more time to those fantastic informal meetings. It is those informal encounters that facilitate more easily discussions on the realities and possibilities of cultural actors in the southern hemisphere, small volunteer based organizations such as ours included. Questions such as “what kind of strategies could be implemented to enable a better mobility for African artists” keep coming back to my mind over and over again. Or: “In what way can these global networks allow better accessibility to stakeholders in the global south so that they too can take part in creative programs funded by national and international art organizations?” As a result of one of the workshops that I attended we concluded that it really is time to sit down and create such inclusive funding systems that would share this particular goal and make the global network of art residencies truly global.
We have recently been downshifting our activity in Senegal towards more focused residencies and towards temporary summer programs in Finland. We have included in our annual program also a shorter mobile AiR program called Analog Extreme in Mauritania and these strategies seem to be the right direction for us to keep us going as a volunteer based AiR program. This summery Res Artis meeting in the Arctic Circle proved to be particularly important to us in terms of sharing and discussing the dynamics within large and small scale residency programs. As far as small residencies – or micro residencies – are concerned, there is even a specific network for such, coordinated in Japan.
In the Res Artis meeting there was also a panel discussion on “Art and culture as destinations.” To us this is actually the original engine of our entire existence in Saint-Louis of Senegal. I often wonder how the local actors in tourism businesses really take this concept into account in their policies and attempts of attracting visitors. Today’s tourist is no longer only a spectator but also someone who participates in the life of various local communities when it is possible. Art residencies promote sustainable tourism by default and this is what Waaw does per se even if we still have the impression that almost nobody has yet fully understood this on the local level. Artists practice slow tourism – imagine what it will be like in the post fossil fuel era! If people in the tourism branch ask themselves why anybody would want to stay longer than one or two nights in Saint-Louis my answer to them would be: artists are already doing it!
This summer I have traveled more than usual, the usual being a summery visit once a year to Europe. More than usual also in the sense that whenever I was able to go to Finland, I would stay in my birth town Turku, but this time I spend an entire month in Kristiinankaupunki where we run an AiR programme every summer. This picturesque town is a member of the international Città Slow network, and rightly so: the town has a lovely somnolent atmosphere with old wooden housing, long narrow streets and neat gardens. Yet it is a functional place with a couple of restaurants, a library, a cinema, and it’s by the sea which to me is a huge plus.
I actively slowed down while in Kristiinankaupunki and took part in this Città Slow pace by spending my days sitting on the steps of an old customs house built in 1680. We had an exhibition of Ethiopian church paintings and my photographs in this house as part of the International Art Week and the annual Open Gates event that attracts hundreds and hundreds of visitors into town for a weekend. We had advertised the event in the local media and as a result there were visitors also from far away neighboring towns and there were guests from even as far as Australia! As this town used to build large ships and had a lot of sailors and fishermen, many also left and never came back. Now their grandchildren or grand grand grand children would come to spend a holiday in town and walk in the footsteps of their family members.
The customs house is such a magnificent setting to show art work and as it had been closed for years and years, the locals were now very curious to have a look inside. Some of them would tell stories about who had lived in the house after its original purpose, or argue whether anybody had ever lived there in the first place. Based on these stories I gather that at least in the seventies the house would have been used by three families, and there was also a time when a friendly Roma man called “Black Jack” lived there. “Jack” was “a heavy drinker and always wore black clothes,” customary to the Finnish Roma people.
I mentioned the library.. it deserves a separate thought here. If there is one thing missing in Saint-Louis, it’s the library. Libraries in Finland are notorious for creating public spaces in which you enter and you no longer want to leave! Moreover, if there is a copy of a book in any library in Finland and you would like to borrow just that book, they will order it for you and text you once it has arrived. So I was able to get hold of Arundhati Roy’s most recent novel The Ministry of Utmost Happiness that I could dive into with all that craziness of Old Delhi and Kashmir under Roy’s pen. My reading during those quiet hours, sitting on the steps of the old customs house, was only interrupted once in a while by swallows that had ended up trapped in the attic of the customs house. I would wait until they were a little tired first, then climb up those narrow stairs and catch them and take them out.