The Environmental Arts Festival in Koli, Finland. My home for three weeks in June.
The residency takes place mainly in the national park at Koli and with that permissions to create pieces and site pieces must be given. The first five sites and ideas I went with weren't given permission due to the delicacy of the fauna near the locations I wanted to site pieces and the footfall of visitors would undermine their safety.
In the end I found nearby at Heikke's place (wood yard) The roots that I needed to create my work, three roots from Spruce that had fallen in the past month in high winds, their roots still in the ground but partially exposed, I knew I could work with these if they could be removed. Heikke got to it and the next day three roots awaited me, all I had to do was remove the earth, site the pieces and then piano wire them up.
The first one was a monster, some 5 metres by 5 metres, I removed as much of the soil as possible whilst it sat on the ground, revealing fantastic roots and tendrils.
It then had to be raised so I could remove the soil from the underside, health and safety wouldn't have been happy as I worked beneath this massive structure, but I did and the earth came away to reveal the beauty of the root structure
The root was later transported to Ukko Koli, the tourist attraction at Koli. a tractor with trailer took it the 3 kilometres from the woodyard to the site, most of the roots poking out, we drove in convoy to keep people safe! The tractor positioned the root in the only possible place so as not to inconvenience the local services and I strung it and played it.
An audience soon gathered to hear the sounds emanating from the roots of the tree, and what a great sound it was the roots did a great job in amplifying and adding a special resonance to the sound, people soon where on the floor lying down listening whilst I played.
And of course others played to, the instrument sound not to dissimilar to a local instrument called a Kantele, so many people felt at ease playing the roots.
The tree in the ground prior to lifting
The root at the woodyard being cleaned
Sited at Satama
The heart shape strings
Another root went into Koli village, sited near the visitors centre and the church, this one looked like it had slithered out of the wood and onto its site.
The roots being cleaned
I created one other piece for the festival, I found this fantastic silver birch tree symmetrically broken on a walk and was thrilled to discover it was on private land so we had no trouble with permissions.
Called Betula Kantele it needs no introduction
What I first saw
The natural split
Stringing the two branches
The tuning pegs for tightening the strings
The finished piece
My time in Finland was fantastic, the place, the people who run the residency and festival, the local community all helped to make my time thoroughly enjoyable. I was there at the same time as a Finnish artist Kimmo Peltola a truly wonderful person and sculptor, he made my time there special and the piece he created was terrific. I was also helped throughout by Teijo Karhu who looked after my every need and made sure all was possible and a truly lovely person. Chrys Allen an english artist I have worked with in Britain who told me about Koli in the first place and has a place in Koli with her partner Simon, they made sure I was stocked with Miles tea and just cared for my being in a lovely way.
The Sauna was brilliant after my initial scepticism and Kimmo again helped me through that passage so that in the end I grew to love them. Liisa and Jukka for support and their community sauna on wednesday, a traditional wood smoked sauna that is wonderful. And a huge thank you to all I came across who made me so welcome and have made me want to return.
Thank You Koli.