Tapestry technique is my key to self-expression, sensitivity of colour shades and richness of textile materials.
It was about 20 years since I learned tapestry weaving. I studied then in the Textile art department at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki. It was only a short course, because there aren´t any larger teaching tradition of tapestry weaving in Finland.
I was really fortunate to start as a tapestry weaver, because Finnish tapestry artist Inka Kivalo gave me two metres wide high-warp loom as a gift and I could purchase thin yarns from my school also without any payment. I had made silk paintings since 1989, when I change this quick and intensive technique to slow weaving. Maybe weaving was then more respected than silkpainting. Now I´m really happy that I chose technique which prevents me to make new items to our world too quickly.
The most fascinating part of weaving images is making colours by combining different kind of thin yarns and make transition from dark to light colour or from one color to another. I use undyed linen warp, because I prefer natural hues. Weaving goes by taking the weft over one warp and under the next, then going the opposite on the return trip. I let the warp be visible under wefts, even if mostly tapestry weavers think that it should be fully covered by the weft. I want to work one line in time and from backside and often also from lateral direction of the picture. This way I use more my intuition.
My artworks are derived from my own small-size sketches. The sketch is small, because I want to make decisions in textile material. Because I weave from the backside, a cartoon of right size, where are the outlines of the shapes, is important. I draw it at first from the right side and then from the opposite side.
I start design with photos of my own or from internet photos. I have worked with the theme of forests and rays of light lately.
My works have been mostly aesthetic, but I have taken a new challenge with my new serie of World of Contrasts. I want to speak out with my works, but I want to drape the message with beauty and calmness.
The World of Contrasts I is about population density and privacy. Contrasts II is about richness. There are three pines with beautiful evening sunshine over the normal house. As contrast there is the Cathedral of San Marco from Venice with gold and glorious paintings and sculptures, which offer pleasure for tourists and holy experience for religious persons.
World of Contrasts III is about importance of biodiversity. We are missing rich, old primeval forests in north and south, because of huge palm oil plantation or forestry of only one kind of trees. I also make viewers to think how privileged it is to enjoy the snowy landscape and clean sea.
Trees play a central role in the composition of the series. The first part has an uninhabited shrub and the second one overlooks the handsome pines of my neighbour´s yard. In the third part, I equate the northern prime forest and the southern rain forest with commercial forest and palm oil plantations. In the fourth part, the dried landscape is surrounded by a large oak, the Kalevala (Finnish national epic) world tree , which has be felled. In the fifth part, mangrove, which is an important carbon binder and storm and erosion inbitor, plays a central role as the tree of life.
I have created this series of five tapestries with the support of the Arts Promotion Centre Finland, Finnish Cultural Foundation and Greta and William Lehtinen Foundation.
My newest goal was to weave a tapestry of monumental size. Ataraxia is about 11 square meters and took three years. Making a monumental work means for me joining the global and historical chain of tapestry artists.
Its theme is inner peace and the experience of calming. With my work and the process of producing it, I convey the message of the culture of slowness: the importance of stopping and being present. For example now when the pandemic situation isolates, we had to stop and face ourselves in silence.
More my thoughts about making tapestries in English: