Koli: Lost and Regained

I was delighted to receive invitation to be involved with the Art Oxygen 2015. Art Oxygen 2015 Exhibition offers an opportunity to exhibit my most recent drawings alongside artworks by selected Finnish and Russian artists.  As artists we share a profound interest in the environment: As individuals we have explored the notion of environment according to our own unique sensibilities. 

Walking and exploring the landscape is essential to my art practice; these elements have become inseparable through being in and connecting with the environment.Walking is akin to drawing; it is a physical and mental experience of 'wandering': Both are a means of searching.

The artwork selected for Art Oxygen 2015 includes drawings from (ongoing) Walking Drawings inspired by the landscape of North Karelia.

A Sense of Walking" is a series of drawings which captures the uneven yet gentle movement through the landscape, providing brief glimpses of ever changing views. These are not drawings from the highest or furthest point of a trail but are suggestions of a landscape as it reveals itself when walking. 

“Koli : Lost and Regained” is a grid of drawings exploring the Koli hillside as if lost. There is a sense that the sections have been recorded, recollected and pieced together. Involving (and unfolding) maps is an essential ritual in of the art and experience of walking. The memories and retraced routes are mapped with care and seeming accuracy. There is an attempt to be methodical but some details maybe forgotten, other details obsessively mapped, leaving space for some invention.

 "Walk in Progress: Bedrock" is a video drawing meandering through the ancient, captivating landscape of Koli National Park. “Bedrock “is one of a series of 'Walks in Progress' inspired by Koli. The first of the drawings being awarded the winning prize at the Derwent Art Prize 2013, the second (Walk in Progress: Winter) was exhibited at Ukko Koli 2014. “Bedrock” is the latest in the series, the original drawing of 'Walk in Progress: Bedrock' was awarded the installation prize the UK National Open Art 2014.  It is entirely appropriate that the video version is being shown in North Karelia. The beautifully simpatico soundscape created by Petri Karttunen to accompany the video enhances the sense of moving through the elements; it's elegance and sense of space is in keeping with the qualities of the drawing. Petri Karttunen also lives and works in North Karelia.

A big thank-you to the exhibition team and fellow exhibitors for putting on such a beautifully curated exhibition.  A special thank you to Tiina Hallakorpi and Rick Hall for your help and patience hanging all 69 squares. Skid also showed commendable patience.

Kulkijan Mietteet (walkers words)

'Kulkijan Mietteet' has now been installed into the metsagallaria in Koli National Park with thanks to the help and cheerful company of Liisa Tommila

'Kulkijan Mietteet' (walkers words) is a map incorporating the words and thoughts of those who live, work and walk in Koli; their words meet and cross paths with those of others. In this map ideas and daydreams follow lanes, paths, streams and ski routes: Stories and imagination become part of the landscape as their words meander through the Koli National Park, village and neighbouring land. The words know no boundaries; they simply go as far as the thoughts take them.

During the summer of 2015 contributions of over 150 sentences were received and incorporated in to the map. A massive thank-you to all.

'Kulkijan Mietteet' follows the series of drawings and mappings titled  “You are Here “ and “Lost Maps” which were created for the Koli Environmental Festival 2014: (Ympäristötaidefestivaalilla); Viewers were encouraged to consider staying a while, allowing themselves to be lost in the moment and alone with their thoughts. And now those who find themselves looking for direction will have the delight of staying to read and take guidance from the musings and meanderings of 'Kulkijan Mietteet' .

KOLI Ympäristötaidefestivaalilla 2015 has been a deserved success. It has been a privilege to be involved and work in such generous company and beautiful environment. Kiitos.

Derwent Pulse. Touring Exhibition.

It was with massive pride and joy I went to see the Derwent Pulse (legacy) exhibition at the Level Centre, Rowsley, Derbyshire this week. A brilliant venue to start off the Derwent Pulse Touring Exhibition. The Level Centre deserves huge credit and thank you for its welcome. The Level Centre has an approach to creativity and inclusivity that artists and art communities aspire to. It was a privilege to have joined their team to work there during the Derwent Pulse project and a delight to return, such a shame I had just missed the morning session.

The programme of workshops associated with Derwent Pulse began a year ago. I had the good fortune of working with communities along Derwent River Valley as they produced maps, images, poems and songs that celebrated the River Derwent. Charting the Future is culmination of that work; it is an installation, map, meeting place, collaboration, celebration, legacy… all this and more. There will be further opportunities to see Charting the Future exhibited along with the film, photos and screen at venues in Derbyshire including over the coming months. More of the maps will be added. Derwent Pulse was a fantastically rewarding project to be involved with. Well done Charles Monkhouse who led the project, well done team, and a massive well done to the communities involved.   

Derwent Pulse wove together past, present and future histories of the river, its culture and its people. Its pulsating light flow beat out the historical pulse of the mills as it travelled from the river’s source on Bleaklow to its mouth on the Trent.

More information about Derwent Pulse is available here

"The Forest of Dreams" at Koli Ympäristötaidefestivaali

As part of Koli Environmental Art Festival ‘The Forest of Dreams” was created with Kolin School. It was a perfect project to work with during their final week of term before heading off for the summer. An inspiring mix of imagination and observation. The children shared a love of maps and enjoyed the opportunity to create a map of Koli of their own. 

There is a very special delight and sense of adventure embodied in maps and the stories they tell. Ancient maps would include routes and landmarks but also incorporate elements that might enhance the narrative; adding islands, hills and creatures; information on what ‘could’ be there, and with no proof otherwise, why not?

In the self same spirit of adventure and discovery, “Unelmien metsä” shows that

whilst the roads of Koli remain, what lies between them in the forest and lakes is in the hearts, imagination and dreams of school children. Koli is no stranger to story telling and myths. It is part of its heritage. 

As in days of old when explorers would be accompanied by artists and scientists (whose role it was to record observed ‘species’ of special interest), the school children have also observed the native ’species’ of Koli; their research has incorporated everything from wild flowers to man made machinery. This research is evidenced in the border.

Unelmien metsä  tells tales of kings, monsters, and fast food. Who know what lies beyond the hiking trails and what the future might bring.

The map has now been installed in the Koli forest in what appears to be a standard national forest information board. It is placed at the edge of the metsa gallaria and should serve to help you find your way, after all you would not want to become lost with all those monsters in the forest.

Unelmien metsä

As part of Koli Environmental Art Festival "The Forest of Dreams” was created with Kolin School. It was a perfect project to work with during their final week of term before heading off for the summer. An inspiring mix of imagination and observation. The children shared a love of maps and enjoyed the opportunity to create a map of Koli of their own. 

There is a very special delight and sense of adventure embodied in maps and the stories they tell. Ancient maps would include routes and landmarks but also incorporate elements that might enhance the narrative; adding islands, hills and creatures; information on what ‘could’ be there, and with no proof otherwise, why not?

In the self same spirit of adventure and discovery, “Unelmien metsä” shows that whilst the roads of Koli remain, what lies between them in the forest and lakes is in the hearts, imagination and dreams of school children.  Koli is no stranger to story telling and myths. It is part of its heritage. 

As in days of old when explorers would be accompanied by artists and scientists (whose role it was to record observed ‘species’ of special interest), the school children have also observed the native ’species’ of Koli; their research has incorporated everything from wild flowers to man made machinery. This research is evidenced in the border.

Unelmien metsä  tells tales of kings, monsters, and fast food . Who know what lies beyond the hiking trails and what the future might bring.

The map has now been installed in the Koli forest in what appears to be a standard national forest information board. It is placed at the edge of the metsa gallaria and should serve a to help you find your way, afterall you would not want to become lost with all those monsters in the forest.

Möhkönvirta 2015

Today was the official opening of Möhkönvirta 2015. A group exhibition across neighbouring museums near Ilomantsi. Am delighted to say my work is in good company. At Parppeinvaara Walk in Progress; Bedrock (Video) is housed in its own log house/gallery alongside other log houses showing artwork by Finnish artists; artwork that is both beautiful and powerful.

The wonderfully evocative soundscape ( by Petri Kartunen) to Walk in Progress; Bedrock can be heard at the doorway by way of gentle introduction. To have the work on show in such a beautiful setting is a privilege, an inspiration of its own.  I have works on paper being shown at another of the sites. Thank you Toivo Jaskenen and the Möhkönvirta team for making this show happen... and while we are on thank you's, thank you Simon for helping get the work there and Michael Fairfax who took a break from his Koli Arts Festival sculpting to come along. 

And for those who cannot make it to the exhibition, Walk in Progress: Bedrock can now been seen here.


Walking and working (late into the evening)

A busy week in a beautifully quiet Koli. Blissful silence and glorious light and been the backdrop to a week of working and walking. The Forest of Dreams; a map created with the involvement of children from the Koli school is almost complete. The old hiking trails remain evident but the forest of dreams is full of imagined inhabitants. The children are also the first to contribute to the walkers words map, this next map will involve gathering the notes , quotes and wise words from those who live work and visit Koli. Though busy , no day is complete without a walk, preferably at sunset (11pm).

Lost in maps

In preparation for the Koli Environmental Arts Festival I have surrounded my self with mappings and meanderings. I will be with the Koli School children next week while they create their map of a 'Unien metsä ' ('Forest of Dreams'). Following on from this will be a map of 'Walkers Words' involving the Koli community and then my own Lost Map. The team of organisers have put together a great programme of events associated with the Festival, it rolls out this week and will continue through the summer. 

And not so very far away in Ilomantsi will be the Möhkönvirta 2015 exhibition. Opening 5th June. I am delighted to say that my video of Walk in Progress: Bedrock has been selected to be shown alongside artworks by Russian and Finnish Artists as part of the Möhkö museum's summer exhibition. And then, back in Koli, opening 1st July will be Kolmengalleria (The Gallery of Three) , an exhibition I am very much looking forward to. 




Back to life

An article written in the Guardian on the importance of drawing reminded me of why I return to life drawing and why I consider it vital. Life drawing is so much about being alive. It is impossible to explain without becoming too wordy, you simply have to be there. In the moment. A life drawing holds everything you have ever studied and a tiny glimpse of what you hope for… and this is done while trying to capture the newness of that very moment.

ChrysAllen_backtolife

Old maps and a forest of dreams

I am delighted to have received confirmation that my proposal for the Koli Environmental Arts festival has been accepted. I will of course continue with my 'Lost Map' series of drawing but what is specific to the festival is working with the school to create a new map of Koli, involving old maps and young dreams; a forest of dreams. "Unien metsä". I will also be encouraging the community of Koli residents and Koli visitors to contribute to a (2nd) map: A map of thoughts, notes, quotes and walkers words. Meanwhile I am researching online and on foot. I will resist the temptation to use metaphors relating hills and forests to describe the difficulties and brief moments of joy on this journey. I will instead happily thank those who have helped along the way. A big thank you to Tiina Hakkarainen and Tarja Teppo (Metsähallitus) Jukka Hokkanen (Joensuun maakunta-arkisto), the festival team, Leena Jarva and the online maanmittauslaitos. 
I'm sure there will be many more to thank as the project progresses. I continue looking for old maps and their high resolution digital versions.