Openness and Community for the Art World

The largest grant awarded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation in 2018, totalling EUR 240,000, was given to Globe Art Point.

Globe Art Point is an association established in late 2016 for the purpose of promoting increased openness in the field of arts and culture in Finland. It supports opportunities for non-Finnish artists to collaborate with their Finnish counterparts and with local art institutions. The Globe Art Point (GAP) work space in Helsinki organises advisory services, workshops, lectures, discussions and stakeholder encounters. It can also be used by artists and teams for work and meetings.

GAP LAB & GAP INFO, Living Lab and Databank for New Finnish Art and Culture is an initiative intended to foster the diversification of the Finnish arts and culture field in line with the country’s rapid internationalisation. The initiative consists of two parts, of which the first, GAP LAB, will result in projects within performing and visual arts. The products will be shown to the public as elements of the partnering art institutions’ own programmes.

The second part, GAP INFO, is aimed at improving the openness and accessibility of the arts field for artists of non-Finnish origin.

“The goal is to enhance mutual understanding and collaboration between artists from various backgrounds, the public, and art institutions,” explains the association’s Managing Director, Tomi Purovaara.

GAP INFO will collect and disseminate information in English on operators, processes, legislation and funding related to the Finnish field of arts and culture.

“We will compile an online Artists’ Welcome Package, which will help non-Finnish artists successfully navigate their chosen career paths,” Purovaara says.

The Artists’ Welcome Program produced within GAP LAB, on the other hand, will comprise workshops, guidance and art institution visits, in order to deepen the information gained from the welcome package.

“GAP LAB is a collaborative endeavour, in which a team of curators will select projects to be implemented from proposals received through an open application system. The curator team and the artistic productions will include both non-Finnish and Finnish participants, and the curator team will also welcome representatives from various minority communities,” remarks Purovaara.

The initiative was devised by two employees of Globe Art Point together with a board consisting of seven non-Finnish artists, as well as some outside experts. The projects included in the initiative will be carried out by GAP LAB’s work teams in collaboration with staff from selected art institutions. The latter will include theatres, galleries, museums and festivals, among others.

The association is headquartered on Malminkatu in Kamppi, Helsinki, and the GAP LAB work space will be rented somewhere in the Helsinki region. Although the initiative is designed for Finland, during 2018 Globe Art Point will work on building a Nordic network of partners, with whom the outcomes and best practices of the initiative can be refined and disseminated.

“We are also planning a next phase, involving the establishment of a European network,” says Purovaara, describing the association’s ambitions.

Globe Art Point ry received a grant of EUR 240,000 for its initiative entitled GAP LAB & GAP INFO, Living Lab and Databank for New Finnish Art and Culture, in February 2018.
, Anna Bui.

Oxygen to bottom sediments

Yan Sun is studying new fascinating ways of using microalgae in the bioremediation of oil pollution.

When Yan Sun, a doctoral student in environmental sciences, is fishing at Lake Vesijärvi in Lahti during her leisure time, she prepares the catch in Chinese style.

“The internal organs, especially the swim bladder, are the most delicious part. My Finnish friends are horrified by this and claim that you cannot eat the whole fish,” Yan says.

She assures us that the water in the Lake Vesijärvi is now amazingly clean and that in some places, even drinkable. In fact, the cleanliness of water is close to her heart. In her dissertation research, Yan Sun is examining how to make the bioremediation of oil pollution in bottom sediments more effective by relying on microalgae.

Microalgae comprise a large variety of floating algae and other photosynthesising organisms, most of which are unicellular. Using them in the bioremediation of oil and other pollution has been studied for decades. However, the research method has been quite straightforward: the microalgae absorb oil and also degrade it as they grow.

In her research, Yan presents a new logic for using microalgae. Their main task is no longer to absorb oil, but to produce oxygen.

“Most microorganisms that are good at degrading oil can only survive in oxygenous environments. However, bottom sediments are often anoxic, which means that oil degrades very slowly,” Yan explains.

When microalgae are added to the bottom sediments, their main task is to be there and by being there they convert an anoxic environment into an oxygenous environment.

This creates a beneficial self-perpetuating circle: the microalgae are photosynthesising organisms, which means that they use solar energy to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar and oxygen. After this, aerobic microorganisms (microbes that base their metabolism on oxygen) absorb and degrade large amounts of oil and release carbon dioxide into the water. Microalgae will then convert this carbon dioxide back into oxygen in the photosynthesis process.

“By supporting microalgae, we will strengthen the natural oil degradation mechanism. This method is very environmentally friendly. You do not need to add chemicals to water that may be toxic to some species, or organisms that may cause chaos in the ecosystem in one way or another.”

Yan points out that microalgae-based bioremediation is also an excellent method from the perspective of the climate change.

“In photosynthesis, microalgae reduce the atmospheric release of carbon dioxide generated in oil biodegradation and they also absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow.”

Yan points out that even the best biodegrading organisms are quite slow at decomposing complex oil molecules. In an ideal situation, the oil will degrade completely into carbon dioxide. However, in most cases, the degradation will produce a slightly lighter and (usually) less toxic chemical.

Another factor hampering the use of microalgae in bottom sediments is that photosynthesis requires sunlight, which is, however, absent in the bottom mud of polluted sea areas.

In fact, as part of her dissertation research, Yan is planning new ways of improving the access of sunlight to the bottom of seas and lakes. She cannot, however, disclose the details of the mechanism, because there are plans to apply for a patent for the idea.

Yan spent some time as an exchange student at the Tampere University of Technology in 2010 as she was studying for a bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences at the Guangzhou University. Two years later, she moved to Lahti to study for a master’s degree.

“I had already calculated the results in my head, when the Finnish students were still working on the exercises with their pocket calculators.” According to Yan, in China, mathematics is studied much more intensively at the upper level of comprehensive school and at upper secondary level than in Finland.

However, at university level, the situation is the opposite. For a mathematically gifted student like Yan, taking the bachelor’s degree in China was easy. Everything took place in the classroom: students only needed to read textbooks, because they contained all the knowledge, and to do calculation exercises.

“In Finland, I had to start doing things myself. It was a shock. I had to prepare projects, find scientific articles and read them, and write lots of text. It took a long time before I got used to this system. However, in the end I did.”

Yan has particularly fond memories of the laboratory course during her master’s studies. Students collected soil, water and snow samples in a city, suburb and a rural area and compared the amount of pollutants in different locations.

“The professor in charge of the course published an article based on the research carried out by the students. In courses like this, China lags well behind Finland.”

Text: Antti Kivimäki
Photos: Pekka Hannila

Sun Yan, Master of Arts, received a grant of 24,000 euros from the Päijät-Häme Regional Fund in May. The grant is intended for a dissertation in which she will examine the use of microalgae in the bioremediation of oil in water and land environments in the Baltic region.
, Jenni Hietala.

Lincoln Kayiwa can distinguish between 50 shades of granite

Finnish soil rocks! In the hands of designers, granite is no longer bound by the limitations of architecture.

There is a brand in Finnish bedrock waiting to be exploited. It is called granite, a truly precious material. More than half of Finnish bedrock consists of different types of granite. “Finnish granite is characterised by its diversity and it is aesthetically interesting. The material has great potential,” says Lincoln Kayiwa, a Ugandan-born designer. “You must see it for yourself.”

Kayiwa is presenting granite in the showroom of Loimaan Kivi. There are fifty different types of granite. It is easy to understand why a designer has been captivated by the beauty of granite. This is a stone treasure: pitch-black Amadeus patterned in purple, the dazzlingly blue-green Ylämaa spectrolite. The range of colours and patterns is immense.

The treatments – polishing, heating, and cutting – can produce a vast range of breathtaking varieties. Polished stone glows like glass and its smoothness feels strangely soft. It is clear that the red and grey granite in staircases, building foundations and sculptures is only one way of using this material.

Kayiwa became interested in Finland in his home country Uganda as a student, when listening to a lecture on modern design given by a visiting professor.  A long slide presentation of the gems of design introduced Kayiwa to such Finnish celebrities as Eero Aarnio, Eliel and Eero Saarinen and Alvar Aalto.  When studying in London, Kayiwa applied for and received a student exchange place in Finland and, after taking a master’s degree in arts and design from Aalto University, decided to stay in the country. In Finland, he also got married and established a studio of his own.


He is currently studying the potential of granite, in cooperation with Loimaan Kivi. The partnership has already produced results in a wide range of different fields.  A designer does not give orders, but is engaged in a dialogue with the other party. The people processing the stone are thoroughly familiar with the material.

“They know how thin a piece of granite can be or how an edge should be rounded.”

Jewellery is the new trend in granite. Kayiwa shows drawings of a bracelet in which a silver or golden frame encloses a black granite ring.  He enjoys combining playful elements and minimalism, a popular style in Finland. The end result is elegant and shows an understanding of the characteristics of the materials. Kayiwa does not make mass products. The context, as well as the combination of the material, object and the content are important.

Marble is held in such a high regard everywhere that there is little interest in other natural stones.  Italians have been very good at marketing marble and the country has benefited from it in many ways. There are more than 70 companies in the natural stone sector in Finland.

In Kayiwa’s view, the Finnish stone industry should invite designers and partners from different parts of the world and give them a chance to work with granite companies.

There are already many things happening in the granite sector. The new look will be on display in the Helsinki Design Week exhibition in the autumn.

Text: Taina Saarinen
Photos: Robert Seger

Designer Lincoln Kayiwa, Master of Arts (Art and Design), received a grant of 12,000 euros from the Loimaa Enterprise Fund of the Varsinais-Suomi Regional Fund towards preparing an exhibition of design products made of Finnish granite.
, Jenni Hietala.

Time stopped in Mankby

The medieval village of Mankby was deserted in the sixteenth century. A team of researchers examined the history of the unique site in a project that spanned several years.

The story of Mankby unfolded gradually. The village turned out to have been a diverse whole, and the results of the project were surprising.

– At the very beginning, we discovered a fossilised medieval village, with most of the buildings constructed during its final stage more or less visible to the naked eye. Excavations provided us with access to its earlier stages. There are not many fossilised villages of this type in Finland, and it is already safe to say that an equally large and well-preserved medieval village can hardly be found anywhere else in Finland, says Georg Haggrén, an adjunct professor of historical archaeology, about Mankby, a village that used to be located in what is now Espoo.

Haggrén and his team have been examining Mankby since 2007. A book, Mankby – A deserted medieval village on the coast of southern Finland, was published as a result of the long process in May 2016.

The oldest buildings discovered in Mankby are from the thirteenth century. By Finnish standards, Mankby was a large village, with its eight houses and around 50 inhabitants. All of the houses were relocated in 1556, when Espoo Manor was established. Some of the buildings were transferred by peasants, while others were used by the Crown for purposes related to the manor.

– This means that there is a sense in which time stopped for Mankby 500 years ago. In some respects, land use has been practically non-existent since then, which makes Mankby a unique site, says Haggrén.

– There is very little information about medieval Finland. Archaeology provides us with better access to daily life than written sources, which focus more on administration. There is more information about the period beginning in the seventeenth century, but Mankby had already been abandoned at that point.

However, written material has been discovered about the very final stages of the village, and this material indicates the number of houses and also provides some information about farming, mostly consisting of the names of farmers.

Researcher Tarja Knuutinen was in charge of the excavations in the lower part of the village. This area covered around 100 square metres in the eastern part of the village and included sites of buildings, ancient fields and roadbed.

– I examined a building that was only slightly visible above the ground when we started. It was a building from the final stages of the village that had probably been taken down when the village was abandoned. In addition, we discovered earlier structures dating back as far as the fourteenth century.

According to Knuutinen, the building from the early sixteenth century is very similar to later smoke cottages. It is part of a building tradition that continued almost until our time. Another building examined in Mankby turned out to be a double cottage – that is, a markedly larger house. According to the researchers, it was not the home of an ordinary peasant, but the home of a member of the rälssi class, which was exempt from taxes and enjoyed many other privileges.

The development of the village and its layers can be seen in its lower part: the village was first used for cultivation and then for construction.

– The fossilised fields have now been dated to the fourteenth century, and their cultivation may have continued until the early fifteenth century. In terms of research, they constitute an interesting whole, as there are not many similar fields located in the middle of a village. In Mankby, we have gained access to a system of fields and its ditches and foundations.

The artefacts discovered in Mankby are varied and indicate an active culture of trading that provided even peasants with items from as far as Central Europe. These artefacts include fragments of glass goblets, three-legged cauldrons made of red clay and jugs made of stone clay, as well as pieces of horse accessories, such as stirrups, and jewellery and buckles and other items related to clothing.

– From the very beginning, we found an exceptionally large number of knives: sheath knives used for daily work and eating, as well as fine table knives that reached Finland along with influences of Central European culinary culture in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. These influences clearly had found their way to Mankby as well, says Elina Terävä, who was responsible for the examination of artefacts.

The varied artefacts also indicate that people living in modest homes had items that are not traditionally associated with the austerity of peasant life. This came as a surprise to the researchers as well.

– The artefacts are quite fine. We discovered a surprisingly large amount of imported goods, which is a sign of trading. Small ornamental items made of iron, for example, indicate that life was not only about necessities. The people wanted a little luxury, which was provided by items used in Central Europe, for example.

Photo: The knives attracted the researchers’ attention. With its length of more than 20 centimetres, this knife was exceptionally large, as well as being unusually ornate. The knives were decorated using bronze and bone, among other materials.

Georg Haggrén, PhD, was awarded a grant of EUR 55,000 by the Finnish Cultural Foundation in 2014 for a research project on the medieval village of Mankby in Espoo and the publication of its results.
, Jenni Heikkinen.

The taciturn Finns – is there any truth to the stereotype?

The image of the taciturn Finns is a much-repeated stereotype that is still common. At the same time, Finns are automatically subject to being compared with other nationalities.

“However, no one has actually studied the nature of this taciturnity,” says Anna Vatanen, who is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki. “In what situations are Finns reticent and compared to whom?” Vatanen decided to take on the task herself.

Vatanen looks at how people who are acquainted with each other behave in natural interaction situations. She studies how they react to moments of silence during a conversation and how they create such moments: what marks the beginning and the end of silence and what happens in between. Is the silence natural or awkward? Do the persons involved feel the need to busy themselves with something else during the silence? Vatanen bases her analysis on videotaped conversations.

Vatanen looks for pauses and repetitive patterns in the pauses. Her aim is to find any general strategies and relate them to the common suppositions about Finnish taciturnity and findings from studies in other languages.


Moments of silence

Although it is early days, Vatanen already suspects that there is something unique to the way Finns relate to silence. Earlier research has shown that pauses occur even among English-speakers. However, during these pauses, the parties typically focus on something else, like petting a dog or fetching a book. In conversations between Finns, there are moments when nothing happens at all.

“They just remain there, quite relaxed,” Vatanen explains.

“The most interesting thing is not necessarily how long the pause is, but what happens during it.”

Vatanen’s research material includes discussions while eating breakfast, driving in a car, playing board games and visiting a friend. Naturally, some pauses occur when a speaker focuses on something else, such as the next move in the game. But, as Vatanen points out, such situations do not always require everybody else to stop talking.

“Even a couple of seconds of silence may feel like a long time. If there are many such moments and they don’t seem awkward, it probably means that the people involved are alright with them.”

What is silence?

“As a matter of fact, ‘silence’ only means that nobody is speaking in a situation,” says Vatanen. “But there are other kinds of interaction, such as nods and looks, which makes silence slightly misleading.”

It is also a matter of how people manifest their connections. Words are not always required; just being there is sometimes enough.

“Maybe it’s characteristic of Finnish-speakers to refrain from saying anything at all. It may be a normal way of being together. On the other hand, even if Finns have a different attitude to silence than other nationalities, it does not mean that Finns are always, or in general, ‘taciturn’. Furthermore, you mustn’t treat ‘Finns’ as a homogeneous group with just one, common way of doing things.”

In spring, Vatanen will travel to Australia to work with her colleagues there. She is eager to learn about the Australian researchers’ views on the subject and if they see it as something strange or anomalous.

“I don’t think I will be able to establish where the notion of the taciturn Finns originates, but I hope and believe I will be able to reveal something about the reality behind the stereotype.”

In 2016, the Finnish Cultural Foundation awarded Anna Vatanen, PhD, a grant for post-doctoral research on the theme of taciturn Finns.
, Jenni Heikkinen.

Olli Mäki’s story charms director

“Artistic freedom is everything for a film-maker. Maybe it’s easier to ask for it once you have proved yourself to be trustworthy”, wonders film director Juho Kuosmanen.

His movie The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki won the prize of Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival, and great success has been predicted for the movie and its director.

The overall effect of the publicity the movie has got thanks to Cannes will only become clear later, but Kuosmanen says that at least the partners in the movie have liked the attention. According to Kuosmanen, The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki seems to be selling well overseas, and the director is also happy if other Finnish film-makers receive attention thanks to the film.

“When one film-maker from a country is noticed, it usually means that people start looking at the whole country.”


An exceptional man, an exceptional movie

The idea for The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki came in 2011. Kuosmanen tried to write a couple of scripts, but they just did not seem to progress. Taulukauppiaat (The Painting Sellers), the movie Kuosmanen directed as his graduate work, had won best student movie award at Cannes earlier.  This meant that Kuosmanen’s first full-length feature film would also be shown at the festival, putting even more pressure on the work. The Kuosmanen came across the story of boxer Olli Mäki.

“I thought that through it I could address the same feelings, i.e. pressure and success, and what it means to different people.”

The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki depicts Mäki’s preparations for his upcoming world title fight. At the same, he realises that he has fallen in love.

Kuosmanen was interested in how before the fight Mäki was built up to be a national hero, even though the boxer himself was expecting something less than heroic.

“Olli Mäki was a good boxer, but his kind nature was in conflict with the harshness of the sport.” As he was an exceptional boxer, it was necessary to make an exceptional boxing movie.


Recreation from silent movies

Now Kuosmanen is working on two scripts, and over the winter he is shooting a silent movie for the Loud Silents festival. In store is a new version of Finland’s oldest film, Salaviinanpolttajat from 1907.

Kuosmanen has previous experience of making silent movies; in 2012 he made the movie Romu-Mattila ja Kaunis Nainen. It is being shown again in Paris, at the film archive in conjunction with the premiere of  The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki.

“The periods between films are long, as are the processes, especially when you want to be involved in everything. For this reason it is good to have some shorter projects in between, so that there is still that feeling of doing things together and a bit of playfulness. Silent movies are refreshing projects and they also bring with them ideas.”

The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki is in theatres from 2 September 2016.

Juho Kuosmanen has received grants from the Finnish Cultural Foundation for artistic work and making his movies.
, Jenni Heikkinen.

Vibrant contemporary art

Between 2014 and 2015, the North Ostrobothnia Regional Fund carried out the biggest ever regional project of the Finnish Cultural Foundation. The project budget was nearly EUR 300,000 in total, of which the Cultural Foundation contributed EUR 250,500.

In the Pohjavirta project, eight works of contemporary art were produced for the region of North Ostrobothnia. The works are a gift of the Regional Fund to the municipalities involved and will remain their property. All the works are public art, and they are placed in busy locations not normally known as sites of contemporary art. The locations include a port, alongside fields and a town square. In fact “New locations for art” was used as the project’s working title.

Aki Roukala: Contemporaries, Pudasjärvi. The work consists of eight life-size portraits on glass panels placed in different locations in the centre of the small municipality.
Jouna Karsi: Spirit of the Poem, Haapavesi. The work shows a folk poet who lived in a small village and who was shunned by his community. In this work, the poet finally gets access to books, demonstrating his right to learn and express his opinions. The work also reminds us of the importance of tolerance.

The project was carefully prepared, and local actors committed to it early on. All works involved local companies as partners. Local people were also engaged; the works were about them or they took part in the implementation process.

An open idea competition was announced in early 2014. Artists were given a free hand, as the aim was to produce something entirely new. The entries were expected to be surprising, placed in untypical locations and combine different types of art. A total of 116 ideas were
received, and they included a broad range of different entries, from visual arts to dance.

Eeva-Kaisa Jakkila and Jussi Valtakari: Over the Time, Taivalkoski. This is an 18-metre-long footbridge that re-establishes the connection between the centre of the municipality and a small island in the middle of a river. The river is also part of the work.

The final selections were made by a group of curators consisting of Antti Tenetz from the North Ostrobothnia Regional Fund, Janne
Kauppinen from the Oulu Museum of Art and artist Petri Sirviö. Mike Watson, a curator from Britain, was also involved in the process.
One of the pieces was chosen by a jury, while 12 others were selected for further processing by the artists and the curators.

The curators played an important role in the project. They discussed the criteria and realisation of the entries with the artists,
encouraging them to adopt new thinking and use new materials. Even though the curator–artist partnership is now common in the Finnish arts scene, not all artists are familiar with the practice. For this reason, the aim was to introduce the artists involved to the arrangement.

Joonas Mikola: Isolation, Oulu. This is a large steel cylinder with a bare outer surface, encouraging local graffiti artists to cover it with their work.

The curators selected the remaining seven works of the project on the basis of the revised entries. In the end, only works that will remain on permanent display in public spaces were selected. In fact, a continuous and permanent physical presence was one of the selection
criteria applied by the curators. As expected, high artistic quality and local relevance were the other criteria.

The North Ostrobothnia Regional Fund needed expertise in a wide range of areas for such an extensive multi-art project. The curators and the Fund secretary were extremely busy throughout the project. The producer played an important role in issues concerning contractual practices, permit processes and funding. One of the main aims of the Fund in the project was to share the expertise that it had accumulated over the years. For this reason, an online arts acquisition package aimed at facilitating such acquisitions was produced as part of the project. This means that the project will have a lasting impact.

Minna Jatkola: Sound of the City, Raahe. Wind and steel are the main elements of this piece located in the port of Raahe. The sounds of the piece are created by the combination of wind and the immobility of the steel structures. This is a joint undertaking involving local schools, the port and long-established industrial firms. It reflects the changing character of the city.
Rita Porkka, Johanna Riepula, Niina Jortikka and Tero Mäkelä: Giants of Mankila, Siikalatva. This is a concrete visualisation of an old story about two giants that lived on opposite banks of a river. The working group and the village residents erected these five-metre-tall sculptures, which now stand in the centre of the village.

Text: Anni Saari

The first photo:
Jaakko Mattila and Jussi Ängeslevä: Pylväsvuo, Ylivieska. The work was inspired by the architectural elements of the local farmhouses, local landscape and the tools used by farmers in their daily work.



The Pohjavirta project by the North Ostrobothnia Regional Fund was the biggest ever regional project of the Finnish Cultural Foundation.
, Jenni Heikkinen.

Chinese tourists as target group

– The best way to reach Chinese tourists is to use their own social media channels, explains researcher Yu Guopeng.

Between 50,000 and 60,000 Chinese tourists visit Finland every year, and the Chinese are the biggest spenders in their travel destinations. The Chinese often pick their destinations on social media.

– For this reason, Finnish tourist companies, too, should learn how Chinese tourists use social media, says Yu.


– Social media in China is very different from Western social media because it is under strict state control. Nevertheless, Chinese tourists use it more or less in the same way as Westerners.

Facebook and Twitter, which are familiar to Finns, are banned in China, but the Chinese have their own channels, some of which are even more influential than their Western counterparts. The most popular of them is WeChat, which resembles Facebook.

– The Chinese know little about the sites used in the West, and for this reason publishing information on them is futile even if the content is excellent. For example, YouTube videos are useless because the whole channel is banned in China.

Translating company websites or Facebook updates into Chinese is therefore not practicable, and tourist companies should have a presence in the services used in China. Links to other sites rarely function, which means that they, too, are of little use.


It would better to encourage Chinese tourists to talk about Finnish destinations in their own channels than to produce updates in Chinese.

– Chinese tourists trust stories appearing on WeChat, and information spread by word of mouth is very important to them. Communication in WeChat is mainly between friends and family members, and their recommendations are trusted.

According to Yu Guopeng, tourists should be encouraged to share their experiences and those who post updates should be rewarded.

– Many people are lazy when travelling and do not post any updates afterwards even if they liked the place, while others are too shy to share their stories.

Rewards also encourage people to say more and in a more interesting manner. The rewards could be in the form of gift vouchers.

People could also be offered suggestions for updates, or they could be urged to pick the things that interested them most in the destination. The important thing is to have tempting updates.

– I have noticed in my research that the credibility of previous updates and service ratings used to be important. Creating interest is now the top issue, and the updates must also be appealing, explains Yu Guopeng.

– When consumers get interested, they ask further questions about prices, locations and so on.


Photos by Harri Tahvanainen

Yu Guopeng, a student at Åbo Akademi University, has received two grants from the Finnish Cultural Foundation totalling EUR 34,000 for a dissertation on tourism and social media applications.
, Jenni Heikkinen.

Plastic beauty

The saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is literally true in the work of Wiebke Pandikow. Pandikow turns recycled plastic bags into jewellery.

– I’ve always hated plastic. It’s horrible, it’s everywhere and it clogs up nature. Now I love plastic because it can be turned into any shape, she explains.


Video: On Art and Science: Wiebke Pandikow’s Plastic Jewellery

Pandikow’s methods are as ordinary as her material: She creates art using a clothes iron.  When shaping leaves, she also uses a soldering iron. When worked with hot tools, plastic slowly changes shape, and everyday items turn into something totally new. Depending on the temperature, it may start resembling a sensitive, translucent plant or an old bone.

Plastic is durable. Even thin, lightweight pieces are sturdy and can be treated casually. Different kinds of bags turn into slightly different pieces.


In recent years, Pandikow has been fascinated by the thin bags used for fruit. They can be made into a translucent material that reminds Pandikow of fungi.

– As our oceans are oversaturated with plastic, maybe animals will learn how to use it.

An American collector was the first customer for Pandikow’s plastic jewellery. Some of the pieces are works of art, while others come in handy as durable household items.  People are often puzzled by the unusual material.

– Many people see the pieces and ask themselves what an earth they are, says Pandikow with a laugh. A common guess is that they have been produced with a 3D printer. However, they are made entirely by hand. Making one piece can take up to 40 hours, and mastering new shapes requires a lot of practice. Pandikow has had her fair share of burns. However, as she says, a goldsmith is used to handling hot materials.

Raincoats made from plastic bags served as the inspiration for Pandikow’s “plastic bag jewellery”. About two years ago, she started trying out different uses for the bags and noticed that they can turn into lots of shapes. In her jewellery, Pandikow combines plastic with such materials as bones and pieces of wood. She once found inspiration in an old medallion that had belonged to her mother, which became part of a piece.

– I’m really happy that I could use the medallion for its original purpose. It keeps the memories alive, says Pandikow. Her other materials are also recycled items. Even though Pandikow gets through lots of plastic bags, she emphasises that she only uses bags that would be discarded anyway.

W03_9999_28 W02_9999_17 W05_9999_30

Pandikow is inspired by nature, and she often finds material for her art when strolling along the beach.

– I come from a village of 20 people, so it’s no wonder that I use natural motifs, says Pandikow, who moved to Finland from Germany nine years ago.

She is inspired by nature, and her choice of material also encourages her to use natural motifs: Plastic is made by humans and symbolises the human impact on nature.

– It’s really sad if our actions lead to our environment becoming uglier and less diverse. It’s bad for us and for our children, but it’s not so bad for nature itself. Nature can put up with all this, but we can’t.

Pandikow’s web page


Photos and video: Harri Tahvanainen

Photo of Past: Wiebke Pandikow

In 2015, designer Wiebke Pandikow received a grant of EUR 12,000 from the Finnish Cultural Foundation for her artistic work.
, Jenni Heikkinen.

Defender of the diversity of life

Professor Hanna Kokko was awarded an award for outstanding cultural achievement at Cultural Foundations Annual Gala on 27 February. The award was given to a researcher of courtship and evolution and the defender of the diversity of life.

Kokko specialises in theoretical ecology and evolutionary biology.  She took her matriculation examination in the German School in Helsinki in 1990 and graduated as a Master of Science (tech.) from the Helsinki University of Technology. She continued her studies at the University of Helsinki, writing her doctoral dissertation on the evolution of sexual choice and courtship in 1997.

Hanna Kokko is truly cosmopolitan scientist. She has worked as a post doc researcher at the University of Cambridge and at the University of Glasgow and as senior assistant at the University of Jyväskylä. In 2004 she was appointed professor of animal ecology at the University of Helsinki.  Then she was appointed as an Australian Laureate Fellow, considered to be the country’s most distinguished scientific post.  Now she has returned to Europe, taking up the post of a professor in evolutionary biology at the University of Zurich.

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Kokko has published more than 200 scientific articles, books and works that are also intended for the public at large. The book Kutistuva turska (Shrinking cod), written by Hanna Kokko and Katja Bargum in a lucid and informative style, received the State Award for Public Information in 2009.  The articles and publications of Kokko are frequently cited and she often appears as a speaker at events around the world. This is because she is able to present complex mathematical formulas in a manner that all audiences can understand.

Hanna Kokko studies the interactive relationships between individuals and groups. She is particularly interested in situations in which the good of the individual is in conflict with the good of the population, species or a community. In economics, this is called the tragedy of the commons, but it also affects nearly all interactive biological relationships at cellular level and in communities alike. In recent years, Hanna Kokko has studied phenomena such as cancer from this perspective. Hanna Kokko emphasises that we can only save our planet by preserving the diversity of species and by ensuring the existence of differences in nature.

The Finnish Cultural Foundation awards grants for outstanding cultural achievement annually. In 2016 the awards went to Hanna Kokko, professor in evolutionary ecology, rap artist Karri “Paleface” Miettinen and Jaakko Nousiainen, professor emeritus in political science.
, Jenni Heikkinen.