daily from 11 am to 6 pm.
Guided tours in English
30 June, 14 July and
1 September at 2 pm.
Adults 8 €
S Bonus Card holders 7€
Pensioners and groups 6 €
Students, unemployed persons 4 €
Free entrance for persons under 18.
In association with:
Barked! Contemporary Birch is an exhibition displaying the expressions and manifestations of birch bark in contemporary art, design and material culture while also presenting traditional uses of this material. It combines various genres of artistic expression – painting, sculpture, spatial art, applied art, and pieces stretching and commenting on the boundaries of design and art. The contemporary artists and designer of the exhibition share deep inspiration from birch bark, the presentation of its varied guises, skills of the hand and the ecological and ethical concerns of collecting and using birch bark.
Birch and bark in the art of Akseli Gallen-Kallela
Among the starting points of the exhibition, which reaches beyond chronological limits, are Akseli Gallen-Kallela's interpretations of birch and its symbolic meanings, for example, in his frescoes for the Juselius mausoleum in Pori and illustrations for the Great Kalevala project. One of his favourite motifs was the unassuming but symbolically important birch-bark cup, which was used to baptize the King of Karelia and the crofter's child alike. In the 1930s, the herder boy of Paanajärvi with his birch-bark horn painted by Gallen-Kallela was adopted as a symbol of tourism for Finland. Together with its different variations, the painting of the young herder has lived on in the national imagery of Finland.
Contemporary birch bark and tourist kitsch
The works by the contemporary artists and designers of the exhibition display ingenious new uses of a traditional material and reflect the yearning for skills of the hand and craftsmanship that are typical of the present era. Topical interpretations of environmental philosophy are closely associated with the new uses of birch bark. As a material of crafts, birch bark has suffered from a "kitsch identity" that it acquired through the national-romantic enthusiasm of the early 20th century and the culture of tourist souvenirs. The exhibition, however, shows that in the hands of present-day artists and designers birch bark is a contemporary, aesthetically fascinating, renewing material that is to be taken seriously. At the same time, birch bark has a historically central role in the material and architectural culture of the northern regions. Knowledge of birch-bark work is Finnish know-how that contemporary designers and artists are developing further. The exhibition also features metaphorical interpretations of birch and its bark stemming from the folk heritage and folk poetry.
The artists and designers of the exhibition:
Akasaka (England), Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Susanne Gottberg, Pekka Halonen, Simo Heikkilä, Outi Heiskanen, Eero Järnefelt, Kaija Kiuru, Tapani Kokko, Markku Kosonen, Greta Skogster-Lehtinen, Amélie Lundahl, Outi Pieski, Janna Syvänoja, Jenni Tieaho and Ilari Pirttilahti & Teija Tarvo & Anne Varsamäki.
An exhibition catalogue with a feel of birch to it
The exhibition catalogue presents and discusses birch bark from the perspectives of ethnology and art research. The many aspects of the theme are also addressed in interviews with artists and designers. They give a voice to those who are professionally involved with birch bark and their ideas and perceptions of working in this material. The catalogue working group was so inspired by its theme that the publication was given – in the spirit of the exhibition and World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 – a unique experimental birch-bark and wooden format.
The exhibition is part of the official programme of World Design Capital Helsinki 2012.
Photo: Markku Kosonen, Birch barked plates.